Joe (of ‘Catholic Commentary’ – and to whom a slightly belated ‘Happy Birthday’ for yesterday) made a comment on my recent post about The Penny Catechism.
What he said was ‘Surely the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the contemporary equivalent of the "penny catechism"....Question and answer format, and able to be memorised.’
Now he’s quite right that the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was intended to be just that; and it certainly uses the traditional catechetical format.
The drawback is that it is still far too complex.
It has more than 200 more questions; and the answers are in general a great deal longer. I’m prepared to believe that it might be possible to memorize it; but I certainly couldn’t, and I’d be interested to hear from anyone who ever has : whereas I think if I offered a small prize to anyone who has memorized The Penny Catechism I would be significantly out of pocket !
I think the problem with the Compendium, as with so much modern catechetical material, is that the idea seems to be not so much to condense the essentials of the Faith into the smallest size commensurate with completeness and accuracy, but rather to include everything that might be desirable . . . and my personal belief is that this creates a sort of mental muzziness in many people, particularly many children. Something that is small enough to remember in detail can provide immediate answers; something which is too large to remember except in outline tends, ultimately, to provide more questions than answers . . .