The Parish Catechism, Lesson 01: Religion

Hand of God giving life to Adam“Religiousness shall keep and justify the heart: it shall give joy and gladness.” (Ecclesiasticus 1:18)

1. Why did God make man?

God made man to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy forever with Him in the next world. “The Lord hath made all things for himself.” (Proverbs 16:4)

2. How can you know, love, and serve God?

You can know, love and serve God only by studying and practicing the truths of religion as given to us by Christ Himself.

3. What is religion?

Religion is the virtue by which you give to God the honor and service you owe Him.

You owe God honor and service because He is your Creator, Master, and Lord. “He made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 99:3)

“All things were created by him and in him.” (Colossians 1:16)

4. To practice religion, what is necessary?

To practice religion it is necessary to know and accept the truths that God has revealed and to live according to these truths.

Every reasonable man sees the necessity of learning about God and man. He needs to know about grace, sin, heaven, hell, purgatory, the ways of obtaining God’s grace, and the Commandments God wants us to obey. Therefore it is necessary for you to come to instructions and to study the catechism well.

“Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28)

5. What reward will God give to those who learn and follow His teachings?

God Himself guarantees heaven to those who learn and follow His teachings.

“That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard : neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

6. What punishment does God give to those who neglect either the study or the practice of religion?

Those who neglect to know, love, and serve their God in this world will hear the condemnation of Christ, the Just Judge, on judgment day: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)

Therefore, no man can say he is too busy either to study religion or to live a good life.

7. Can we see the result of this lack of religion in the world today?

Lack of knowledge or failure to practice religion is perhaps the root cause for most of the unhappiness in the world today.

It is because men either do not know or do not practice their duties towards God and towards their fellowman that we have all sorts of unhappiness as evidenced by the many broken hearts, broken homes, divorces, unfaithful husbands, juvenile delinquents in the world today.

8. Can it be said that a good life is its own reward?

Yes, it can be said that a good life is its own reward. From the practice of religion a man gains:

Peace of heart and soul which comes from leading a good life.

The answers to the big questions in life – Who am I? Where am I going? How can I gain happiness? How can I have a happy married life? How can I help my children lead good lives? Etc.

Parents sometimes have the mistaken notion that the Catholic school has a magic formula for making children good. This is nonsense! The goodness you see in Catholic school children is due to their religion. The Catholic school, however, is no substitute for religious parents. Parents must understand and practice the teachings of God if they expect their children to be good.

– from The Parish Catechism, by Father Farrell, 1954