You'll find that teaching the Catholic answers for First Communion and Confirmation preparation is easy once you have an edition that can be used and remembered throughout a lifetime.
This page is for those who want to know and to teach the catechism answers that will always be true. Versions?
Yes, the Baltimore Catechism, No. 2 has been the standard elementary Catholic catechism in the United States of America most of years since 1885, but there have been versions and revisions ever since.
Several answers are different amongst the various Catholic catechism versions and they each have an Imprimatur. Which answers are true?
If you are new to the Catholic faith, or are teaching young children, and are looking for the best version to use; you'll like seeing the comparisons below. They can spare you trouble in the future.
You'll be able to see which versions ask which questions in popular Communion catechisms.
Our Saint Anne's Helper downloads use the 1959/1885 version of the Baltimore Catechism to both start young children with truths they can understand and to satisfy the minds of older students and adults.
The most Catholic answers are in the old catechisms.
The old Baltimore Catechism (BC) from the 1880s was designed to be "from" the Catechism of the Council of Trent, yet in a more memorizable question and answer format. The Catechism of Trent was called The Roman Catechism. In the 1880s there was not an English translation that could be used in schools, so the United States bishops published their own catechism for diocesan use.
There are many BC reprints and many "revisions. I have an 18" stack of little catechisms that have several versions of the BC answers.
Another trouble finding a good version is that few publishers marked their revisions and editions.
Even the versions that are under the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine, (CCD) - even as early as the 1930s - have some differences, especially in the inclusions that were added in the prose between the actual Baltimore questions and answers.
In general, the BC parallels the Penny Catechism in England. Yet again, beware of some Penny editions that were published, especially after 1971 as the answers are not the same as they had been.
The same holds true for new reprints of the St. John Newmann catechism. I own a reprint that reads like a new catechism with watered down answers and omissions. I have not yet seen an original.
The old DeHarbe's Catechism was first translated from an old German edition has excellent Catholic answers. Fr. Deharbe in his German communities needed a catechism before the Trent or the Baltimore were available. It is a very good version with good Catholic answers. No Wite Out necessary.
This rest of this page explains differences in some currently available, in print, and popular BC versions. It also documents the several sources to our Communion audio and worksheets downloads.
You can also see the main difficulties with new Baltimore Chatechisms.
For those new to the Catholic Faith or to teaching the Faith, the notes on this page can spare you buying compromised books for Communion and Confirmation preparation.
Most old catechism questions answer with very Catholic answers. They agree with very little difference in the wording of questions and answers throughout the years.
Simply put, true Catholic answers are precise and concise. That's how you can trust them.
The problem during the last century is that bishops, publishers, and authors have given both the Imprimatur and the Nihil obstat to different answers to the very same questions in many catechisms even in the same series!
How? Hm.... Let's read Pope Saint Pius X's warning.
Pope St. Pius X warned of this danger in his encyclical Pascendi, in paragraph 51 as he quoted and commented on what Pope Leo XIII said:
Note: Pascendi was written just after the time that Pope Leo XIII accused the bishops of Baltimore of Americanism (Kenrick brothers?).
Further, amongst various Catholic catechisms in the United States of America, the copyright dates often do not show the new dates of publication and do not indicate that there are minor revisions or omissions.
They are not required by US law to note changes and omissions (which makes practical sense with most books). It is still amazing to see the revisions and omissions in Catholic books that have all the same copyright information in the front pages, even as early as the 1930s and 1940s.
We own several versions of a very popular children's Communion book, The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism, where the tabernacle and Crucifix were gradually removed from beautiful pictures, as with white-out or cut-outs. This covers a period of time throughout forty or more years, meaning that new purchases might have more revisions (even as recent as 2012 where Catholic Book Publishing Company finally published the new date, although the edits are not noted in this edition).
Higher levels of this New Saint Joseph series have more difficulties with the Resurrection and Ascension. Beware to teach the right answers if you use the NSJ series (Jesus rose from the dead by His own omnipotent power). When in doubt compare to the Catechism of the Council of Trent. It is very helpful and it is also a wonderful book to read.
The next section, section 4, of this page explains some current differences amongst the popular First Communion catechism publications. You'll find where the precise Catholic answers originate.
The following Q&A numbers correspond to our St. Anne's Helper Audio Catechism
Short cut: If you're looking for a wonderful book, you'll love Jesus Comes.
This answer can be found in both Jesus Comes as sold by the old Neumann Press, newly by St. Augustine Academy Press, and in other Baltimore Catechism copies. Jesus Comes is my favorite Communion book for its Catholic answers. (Edit: September 2013 The owner of Neumann Press has died and the family is not continuing in the publishing business. May God rest his soul, comfort his family, and provide for the best arrangements. 2015: TAN Books bought the company.)
It has been mentioned that the question, "Who made the world?" leaves a path open to elements of evolution and removes the directly personal effect of creation from the child's experience.
If taught as the 1885 Baltimore Catechism teaches and as the Catechism of the Council of Trent (CCT) teaches, it must also be explicitly explained that the word "world" in this instance means that God created everything visible and invisible which is answered directly with "God made all things." The meaning should be taught to express the same idea. See this explanation in The CCT as found in older TAN Books (Translated by McHugh and Callan).
Answering "God made us." doesn't explicitly teach the truth that God personally creates each human soul, as compared to answering "God made me."
Be sure to explain that God made each individual one of us, meaning each human being that is being born today and in the future. This is an awesome truth to know about Creation in light of abortion issues that are so prevalent today.
At the moment a child realizes that "God made me." he realizes that it is a comfort and an honor to know that God personally made him. God loves him the way God made him. The little child asks "Oh, wow! He made ME?" It is a joy to be able to respond "Yes, and He loves you just the way He made you!" This is one of my most treasured moments with our own little children.
Adults who were not taught this Catholic answer find the same consolation at this revelation. The most important time to be certain of it is during one's last hours. "Yes, He loves me, and He made me the way He loves me."
This answer is the personal and objective answer necessary when one is trying to weigh the argument of "Thou shalt not kill." against the errors of the pro-"choice" enemies of life.
Well, of course He is.
Instead of using the term "Supreme Being" as some catechisms do, a comparison with Our Holy Faith series book 2, Jesus Comes, finds that He is the "Creator of Heaven and Earth and of all things" which concurs with
"God is the Supreme Being" is a true answer, yet it is not as indicative as the answer that "God is the Creator".
Yes, God is the Supreme Being, yet this can be inferred from the answer that teaches that God created Heaven and earth and all things. The inverse is not true. Older books for higher levels use the more accurate term Absolute Being which answers "What is God?"
Teaching the answer "God is the Creator, etc." anchors the child's faith that God the Father created all things from nothing and this inclusion explicitly teaches this truth.
It may not explain all that God "IS" (neither does the term Supreme Being), but it certainly does indicate Who He is. He is the One Who did the Creating. Some books omit this question. Yet look at what truths have been removed from one of the most basic Catholic answers: Creator and Heaven!
In further support, I think it is important to know that the book The Church Teaches at Amazon (old TAN Books) says on page 141:
"Further, the true concept of creation excludes every form of emanationism and pantheism, while it emphasizes the liberality, power, wisdom and goodness of God, manifested by his free creation of the world in time. These truths are the cornerstones on which men can build lives of Christian optimism and personal responsibility. For that reason the Church has always insisted on them as basic to the revealed religion entrusted to it by God."
How powerful! It is so important to be able to be certain that these basics are true. They should be taught for First Communion, especially since so many children do not receive further catechetical instruction later.
In very high level books I have seen the term Absolute Being. A different term "Architect of the Universe" (Sheed and Ward) is nearly a Masonic term and "Supreme Being" was used by Robespierre (To Quell The Terror, excellent Carmelite book at Amazon) during the Reign of Terror when he sought something "more" than the goddess of reason.
The oldest catechism book that I have found that uses the term Supreme Being was one that was "revised" in 1921 and at least it does not use the term in a misleading way.
Certainly God is the Supreme Being, yet Catholic answers are precise and definitive, especially for a beginner's catechism and for purpose of identification. It is an error to expand a term away from the simple truth.
See the forward in The Church Teaches. These terms began to be used by publishers Sheed and Ward, the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine (CCD), and other Catholic book publishing companies during the 1930s and 1940s.
Teach that God is the Creator so as to make the distinction that He is not merely a special being, a more special being, or the most special being.
He is Being.
He is the One who created all the other beings. There is no gradation, development, or evolution in being that leads to one supreme being.
Adjectives have the positive, comparative, and superlative cases. A being can be described as good, better, best; or big, bigger, biggest.
But where do the adjectives end? Supreme, ultimate, penultimate? Some children understand this right away and may bring it to class.
A comparison of texts shows that this version (Our Holy Faith Vol. 2, Jesus Comes, and many others) is a complete Catholic answer without the grandiose verbiage that does not add any meaning as found in other versions of the Baltimore Catechism: "God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in Heaven."
This second version also removes God's personal contact with the singular "me", the effect of which is explained for question number one above.
Some older books combine question number 3 and 4 "God made me to know, love, and serve Him in this world." to good purpose. It is certainly more precise. Be sure to teach answer number 4 of St. Anne's Helper's Communion Catechism (1959) with number 3 if you are not using all of the questions and answers in your catechism class.
We have heard sermons that defend both ways in that the one answer is in the order of intention and the other is realized in the order of activity. Neither opposes truth.
Our Holy Faith has the phrase "to do" added to the Ten Commandments tells and forbids questions. For over eighteen years St. Anne's has seen children who stumble in answering "to do to adore God".
Because Baltimore Catechism answers usually use a main phrase or clause from the question, kids get the habit of trying to repeat the question in the answer.
By omitting "to do" in the question seems to make the child's response easier without changing the meaning of the Catholic answers. This is the one liberty taken in the St. Anne's Helper First Communion text.
Some versions of this question and others did not have Our Lord's name. Since a main error in vogue today (2011) is to speak of a christ without him being Jesus Christ, St. Anne's Audio Catechism has used the imprimatured answer found in Deharbe's Small Catechism (Christian Book Club of America), which specified the name Jesus. It seems to introduce Him well or to further specify Jesus as "the" Christ.
This answer in St. Anne's has been taught by many good priests and sisters who made a point of this being the more Catholic answer both in sermon and in class.
See Deharbe's Small Catechism available through Christian Book Club of America for this inclusion of Jesus' name, Imprimatur and Nihil obstat as well.
If you are not required to use the Baltimore, check out the old version of DeHarbe's Catechism at Amazon. The Small Catechism is for Communion preparation and The Large Catechism is for the rest of us. No Wite-Out necessary. :-)
Here, St. Anne's chose the version that names Original Sin and what benefits Baptism gains for us as found in the 1885 Baltimore Catechism.
The very purpose of Baptism (washing away Original Sin) is sometimes omitted in other Catholic answers or definitions.
At other times the question is reworded in a manner that can suggest that the Catholic answer is a subjective one: "What does Baptism do for YOU?"
Imagine the subjective answers that could be had for this question: Aunts and Uncles, parties, gifts! In past times it might not have been necessary to mention "washing away Original Sin", yet today's environment that denies the Fall requires a more certain answer as provided in the BC.
Again, Catholic answers are precise and concise.
Some catechisms omit teaching the consequences of Mortal sin. Fortunately this Catholic answer is found in the New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism.
This answer teaches the idea of Hell, avoiding which is the whole reason for doing all these other works and I included it at Saint Anne's Helper because it is such an important truth.
It is a solemn moment when a child realizes that many people are burning in Hell. Add this omission to the omissions sited above and find Creation, Heaven, Original Sin, and now Hell omitted.
These important truths are all maintained in our catechism downloads. I am edified that The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism included this question and answer, although this version does have considerations to beware that are related to the dogma of the Resurrection.
On the issue of Hell and punishment, our favorite recommendation for a child or adult catechism is The Catechism in Pictures as printed in India as it was first printed (the second version has many differences and several excisions as with the condemnation of Freemasons). Even with many typos the version available prior to 2010 teaches the Faith better than any book I have seen.
There's no mistaking Hell or sin in this catechism. The pictures alone teach the Catholic answers for preparing to receive Holy Communion. Again, please note that there are many changes in the new printings (2010 and subsequent).
The images teach the Faith well, so it is an excellent flip book or coffee table book for teaching the Faith to children.
The Catholic answers used at St. Anne's Helper involving mortal sin and venial sin are the Baltimore Catechism answers for children that are commonly used for younger students.
They will stand for a life time of good Confessions, whereas it is possible that little ones would not understand or make use of a longer version. It is the answer that our own priests and sisters required of our children while remaining valid for adults.
This version; "to have them forgiven" (Jesus Comes) is a more plain, active, and certain Catholic answer than "to obtain forgiveness" as found in some versions. It also teaches the purpose of going to confession, to have your sins forgiven.
Again, this version can be found in Jesus Comes, as well as several other Baltimore Catechisms. It uses the singular number in its answers which is a great defense against the "corporate conscience" type errors of this last century. Catholic confession is a singular event.
"We" in the plural don't have "a" single conscience.
Some questions can be answered well in the possessive plural although this is one Catholic answer that should not, especially for children who are preparing for their first Confession. Good parish priests warn parents to teach their children not to confess the sins of others. Every year.
One reason for the possessive plural is that this is the way that bishops and many religious orders spoke "about themselves". When the priests and nuns of the 40s and 50s changed the confession answers to the singular, it was probably due to the difficulty in teaching children to confess only their own sins.
The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism is the most popular in the NSJ series, as it has wonderful pictures and is a small pamphlet easy for children to carry and easy for parents and catechists to buy. You will want to know that it has tricky places to beware.
At the bottom of page 33 and page 49 it would seem that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead! Without a contorted explanation that every time one of the Blessed Trinity acts, all three act in unison; it does not teach explicitly that Jesus Christ rose from the dead by His own omnipotent power. This truth is certainly omitted.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent (CCT) and The Catechism in Pictures, teach explicitly (in so many words) that Jesus, Himself, reunited his Body and Soul by His own omnipotent power.
Seton Home Study School's re-written Kindergarten Catechism for Young Catholics, which is a version of the NSJFCC, removes the vague wording in the NSJ and many other tricky places. Thank you Seton! In other aspects it is very close to the New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism and is a very helpful book for Communion Preparation. I do recommend it. Again, it looks like a case of the people who have had to use the booklet having access to publishing the better terms.
The CCT says, "By the word Resurrection, however, we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead, which happened to many others, but that He rose by His own power and virtue a singular prerogative peculiar to Him alone.... We sometimes, it is true, read in Scripture that He was raised by the Father; but this refers to Him as man, just as those passages on the other hand, which say that He rose by His own power relate to Him as God."
The NSJ Baltimore Catechism No. 2 and No. 3 repeat this dangerous line and the No. 3 expands the thought to include the Ascension! A careless reading of these, and/or not explicitly teaching precisely what the Apostles' Creed teaches "the third day He arose again from the dead", might leave out what the Catholic Church calls the pivotal proof of our Faith: that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by His own power proves that He is God.
We own three publications of the NSJ First Communion Catechism. How do you tell the differences? They each have beautiful artwork progressively removed from pages 48, 54-59, and who knows what else has been removed by now. Not one iota is changed on the inside front cover warning about any changes! By this omission one would be lead to believe that these several printings would give the same Catholic answers, but they do not.
In 2016 I posted the differences in the New Saint Joseph catechism in a three part article.
The reason that our family started Saint Anne's Helper was to help others to have an easy way to learn the best answers. See our audio catechism story here.
Once you have compared several older books, you can see that Saint Anne's Helper downloads will help you teach the
Our Audio CDs, worksheets and coloring pages are a God-send. Catechists and parents like that the Communion and Confirmation memory work is much easier for their kids.
Why use the Baltimore Catechism?
See the opinion of the USCCB that many catechisms do not hand on the Faith.
Seton Home Study School has a wonderful article that defends the Catholic answers in the Baltimore Catechism.
Most Catholic homeschool curriculum providers recommend the BC in some form or another:
It is important to find and teach the Catholic Ten Commandments since they are easily taught very early in a good Catholic catechism and are half the foundation of any catechism alongside the Apostles' Creed. The Commandments are the back bone to morality and law.
The Catholic Ten Commandments are also the standard by which to recognize other good Catholic books and to reject those books that should be discarded. Writings which violate the Ten Commandments are to be rejected.
It is important to use the best Catholic answers because it is by comparing against answers that reflect the truth that we base morality. There are many moral decisions in every day life. Good Catholic answers help us to know and to do the Will of God so as to attain Heaven. If we do not know the Truth, we cannot choose it or will it.
The reason that we publish these particular questions and answers is that they are the questions and answers that the good priests and nuns required for our own children (see our story here) as they prepared for the sacraments.
As parents, we learned much more about the Catholic Faith while teaching these answers than we had previously been taught, precisely because these were such good Catholic answers. We appreciate books that teach by the straight and certain route without the searching that is so popular today or, on the other hand, necessary today. We think that you will too.
We also wanted to help many souls find these Catholic answers because the more good Catholics that are formed by the basic Catholic beliefs, the easier it will be for all of us to be good Catholics and thereby go to Heaven.
We do not claim to endorse all versions of books mentioned on this page or the complete series of books mentioned here, especially in their many reproductions over time. It would be impossible to keep up with the variations and revisions, yet hopefully this page has given you some issues to beware.
In general the old TAN Books (Neumann Press), Baronius, St. Augustine Academy Press, and Refuge of Sinners Publishing (Mother of Our Savior Company), have made a grand effort to print excellent Roman Catholic books. May God preserve them, guide them, and reward them well.
Saint Anne's Audio Catechism uses the best Catholic answers available. Each comes from an old book that has an Imprimatur at minimum. So that you may see and make comparisons we added the actual text used in the Communion and Confirmation CDs to this site so that you may see which questions and answers are taught.
I defer to the constant teaching of the Catholic Church in all things, especially the Catholic answers. I defer to the authority and teaching of Holy Mother Church in all judgments.
The books that I have recommended have proven to be the clearest in teaching the basic Catholic beliefs without the need for revisions. These downloads have had the approval of several priests, one of whom is a monk and Prior at his Monastery. I have confidence that these resources will be of help to you.
St. Anne's Helper First Communion and Confirmation Audio CDs and downloads were formed in our efforts to do our duty of state well as religious instructors in a parish, and as parents teaching the faith to our own children for nearly 20 years. They are your short cut to the basics and work like a tutor for you - always patient, always the correct answers.
These CDs and downloads were created in response to the number of friends who sought help teaching these Catholic answers to their children. I am also confident that these will help religious, teachers, parents and other catechists in the performance of their duties of state to teach the Catholic answers to those students in their care.
Pope Saint Pius X urged Catholics to use the technologies available to help spread and keep the Faith. These Audio CDs, Downloads, and reproducible Copybooks are my effort to do so.
I hope this comparison of the texts of these Catholic answers gives you confidence that our Audio CDs and Downloads publish a faithful representation of the Baltimore Catechism.
Pastors and teachers have compared texts and taught the catechism well. So did priests and nuns for scores of years. Now you can too.
Pope Pius XI says "...The believer has an inalienable right to profess his faith and to revive it as it needs to be revived. Laws which stifle or make difficult the profession and the practice of this faith are in contradiction with natural law." (Encyclical "Mit brennender Sorge" March 14, 1937.)
Most of this page has been about the all-important First Communion catechism. What about Confirmation?
You will be relieved to know that he Catholic answers in older Confirmation books have fewer differences than those for Communion. You can see the Catholic Confirmation answers here.
Thank you for reading. :-)
May God bless you and yours.
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Get Catholic catechesis resources for your Roman Catholic catechism class, Faith formation, Catholic homeschool, religious education, or Sunday school lessons. ~Mary Fifer
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You may want to have each of these for your Baltimore Catechism Communion students: audio, ebooklet, and digital worksheets for kids and adults. Verbatim text in all formats.