|Bust of St. Peter Canisius|
in Munich, Germany
Photo by Dominik Hundhammer
Peter Canisius was a great Jesuit priest and teacher. People listened to him and respected him because he was always so kind and loving. In the 1550, there was a terrible split in Christianity. Some people broke away from the Catholic Church and started their own churches, and they worked very hard to get other people to leave the Catholic Church, too. Sometimes they did this by making people confused about what the Catholic Church taught. The Church needed a way to help people understand the Catholic faith better, so they wouldn’t get confused. So, Peter helped write the first Catechism of the Catholic Church – a book that explained our beliefs clearly, with Bible verses to support it. It was a huge success, so he wrote two more shorter Catechisms, one for young teenagers (we would call them “tweens” today) to help them develop virtues, and one for small children to help them learn how to pray.
Since St. Peter Canisius died, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has been updated several times. Today, there is even a free online version of the Catechism in several different languages. There is also the Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is set up as a question-and-answer book with easier language. This is especially helpful for families. And for teens, the YouCat is written to tackle the issues they are most concerned about. Today, look up a question in the Compendium (in your own copy or online) and read the answer out loud as a family. (Consider buying copies of the YouCat or the Compendium or the Catechism as Christmas gifts this year, too!)