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Is there such a thing? Yes, there is an adult Baltimore Catechism. Oh, how I wish I would have known this when I was young and trying to learn more about the Catholic Faith!
So many books!
So little time?
Do you need to read all of them?
I think you can read just one. As time goes, I'm sure you'll want to read many more.
For now, reading any one of the books on this page is the easiest way for you to learn the most about the Catholic Faith all in one book. That's what a catechism is, a catalog of the main Catholic beliefs.
In general a catechism has two formats. If these are what you seek, choose between these two books.
Both books are old books, early 1900s, republished by TAN Books and Publishers.
They each have their own information, so you could read both; yet reading one of them will be as much as you will probably ever need in life.
Jump to these sections below for more ideas:
If you're dare not slog through many books looking for definitive statements of the Catholic Faith, you'll find that the best adult Baltimore Catechism is The Catechism Explained, by Rev. Frs. Spirago and Clark.
The Catechism Explained teaches the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church with the academic depth necessary for both high school students and adults.
It explains the questions and answers in the Baltimore Catechism which originally taught the truths that the Council of Trent found necessary.
In a way there are many publications for adults that are based on the Baltimore, yet if you have the Catechism Explained, a sort of Baltimore Catechism No. 4, you won't need to buy the other three Baltimore Catechisms.
The Baltimore was called the "authoritative" catechism of the Council of Trent and fills a more encyclopedic role, too. It is a super well indexed reference book for this time period and includes Bible and saint references.
Here is how the Baltimore books are divided. There are actually only two books with one being subdivided into booklets:
Originally the Baltimore was written to teach the truths of the Catechism of the Council of Trent (CCT) in question and answer format. Why?
The Catechism of the Council of Trent has easy text that makes good reading. Be sure to get the McHugh and Callan edition as shown in the photo below.
In order of time this book comes long before the Baltimore. Its foreword has an excellent history of its publication that is an education in itself and explains the reasons why the Baltimore was published - especially the reason that the CCT wasn't yet available to very many people in English.
The Tan Books version has an excellent picture of the Chair of St. Peter that we did not see in other reprints. So far, we've seen three that seem to have no difference in their content other than this image of St. Peter's Chair.
You can use the CCT in high school. It makes an excellent high school or adult catechism. Use it in a class room or read it in private study.
It is an excellent introduction to the Catholic Faith for one who is new to the faith and it can replace an adult Baltimore Catechism if you do not need a rigorous formula of questions and answers for memorization or reference.
On top of that, it is very easy to read and has great stories to explain concepts. Your younger children can understand most of it if you're reading it together as a family.
I have used this book with four of our high school children and we are all glad that we have had this great opportunity. It was in large part compiled by St. Charles Borromeo and approved or promoted by Pope Saint Pius V. These two saints had a large part of the responsibility for this book which is reassuring to me. Think of it: A catechism written by saints! I love it.
Most of the versions seem to be verbatim to each other. The only difference I could tell between several versions is that there is a wonderful image of the chair of St. Peter in the TAN version that is not in other versions of the CCT. In a way it is the "original" adult Baltimore Catechism and can be bought at Amazon.
I share more about using the CCT in high school here.
A third recommendation you'll love and is like an adult Baltimore Catechism is The Catechism in Pictures (buy it at Amazon). It brings the Bible and saints to life while simply answering the catechism questions with beautiful paintings.
It is a beautiful presentation of the Catholic Faith with the most interesting and artful full page plates that each explain the article of Faith being taught on the opposite page of text. At a glance you'll find its a real short cut to understanding the Faith.
This is an awesome book to share with children and teaches the faith well enough for adult catechumens (those learning the truths of the faith for the first time).
If you're learning the truths of the Faith with your children, they'll love it when you share this book with them snuggled up on the couch. The pictures alone teach the Catholic Faith better than most Catholic books!
I know families whose copies are quite ragged with use because the details in the pictures are so interesting. It's a great book to leave on the coffee table as your children will pick it up to look at it.
Since many of us are learning the Faith right along with our children, this is a most excellent book to have on hand. Do see if you can find an old version though as newer versions have many changes and omissions. (Where have we heard that story before?)
To save space the publisher left off the questions in the English translation which we think is a very good idea since the text is large enough to be easily legible yet is the right size to fit next to the appropriate picture. It is in a very concise format and is a brief summary of the same information in an adult Baltimore Catechism, Cliffs Notes style.
The 2012-2013 publication has many differences from the previous edition, yet it is still an excellent picture book. It has a shiny blue cover with gold edges. You'll want to know these differences:
The Catechism In Pictures (69 Large Full Color Classic Pictures - see the preview photos) even more precise especially when teaching children! The pictures alone teach the Faith better than most catechisms.
For children though, the pictures alone teach the Catholic Faith better than most catechisms. Leave this book for the children to study, and give them time to marvel at the explanations of the pictures which is usually one-fourth to one-half the lesson.
There are 69 lessons that will teach the whole family the basics about the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, the sacraments, and the virtues. The pictures make this a wonderful book for children and adults!
You can sometimes buy The Catechism In Pictures at Amazon as they only publish it in small batches, which also means that there might also be constantly different editions.
We now own three different versions. Get the oldest version you can find.
These CDs are like Cliff notes to the Baltimore Catechism.
If you're looking for a short cut to learning the basic adult Baltimore Catechism answers you'll find them on our St. Anne's Audio Catechism CDs with each question and its answer on its own track. This makes it easy to find a particular track, for example: memorizing the Catholic Ten Commandments, Catholic Holy Days of Obligation, and the Catholic Our Father prayer and the Prayers of the Rosary like The Apostle's Creed.
Preparing to be Baptized and receive the Holy Eucharist?
Volume One teaches the basics necessary for one's first reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. This volume gives an introduction to the first three Catholic sacraments that Catholics usually receive: Baptism, Penance, and Holy Eucharist.
Preparing for Confirmation?
Volume Two teaches the basics necessary for a preparation for Confirmation. This volume gives the basics necessary for all seven sacraments with an emphasis on Catholic Confirmation and the truths of the Blessed Trinity.
Both use the Baltimore question and answer format with the exact wording from the Baltimore Catechism No. 2.
In conclusion, an adult Baltimore Catechism, or any catechism for that matter, by definition, IS a question and answer book that teaches the basic Catholic beliefs.
It is also a very handy format for being able to look up an answer after the catechumenate days of study are finished.
A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture combines the Bible and the catechism. I wish all books were this good.
Use these printables in your Roman Catholic catechism class, Faith formation, or Sunday school lesson. ~Mary Fifer
If you use the Baltimore Catechism, you'll love SaintAnnesHelper.com!