The e-Catechism of the Catholic Church

When Lindsay Rigby hears her phone beep in the wee hours of the morning, she knows it isn’t a work e-mail or a friend messaging her about going out for lunch. The little beep indicates that the rich tradition of the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church is being delivered to her iPhone.

Rigby, 30, is participating in an online initiative that invites Catholics to “Read the Catechism in a Year” through e-mails. The initiative was started by Flocknote, a Texas-based web site designed to make communication in Catholic parishes simple and effective.

The web site has divided the catechism up over a year and e-mails a section to participants each day. Signing up is free and so far more than 75,000 people from around the world are participating, including Ottawa’s Rigby.

Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged all Catholics to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the Year of Faith, which began on Oct. 11. The focus of the year is evangelization and the Holy Father has explained that in order to pass on the faith to others, we have to know and understand it ourselves.

“In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool,” he wrote in the apostolic letter Porta Fidei.

But Rigby finds the catechism can often seem intimidating. The online initiative makes it more manageable by serving it to you in “bite-size pieces,” she said. This encourages her to reflect on and soak in the truths of the faith, instead of speeding through them.

Receiving bits of the catechism each day has also given Rigby an opportunity to see the Holy Spirit at work in her life. On one occasion, someone asked her, “Why do I have to go to church?” The corresponding catechism reading for that day had just the answer she needed: “No one can have God as Father without having the Church as Mother.”

The catechism initiative is just one way social media is being used as a tool for spreading the Good News.

Social media is often blamed for perpetuating secular society values and being fundamentally harmful. St. John Cantius parish in Chicago issued a statement in its Sunday bulletin saying, “(Facebook) is exactly the opposite of the Christian culture,” according to the Chicago Tribune. However, more and more we are seeing new media being used for good.

Fr. Robert Barron, for example, is an American priest who uses YouTube to explain Catholic doctrine. He believes new media is an essential tool for evangelization. In one of his videos he urges Catholics to “get onto the cutting edge of where the new media has taken us.”

Flocknote has encouraged participants to use Twitter to tweet about things that stand out to them through the catechism-a-day experience using the hashtag #Catechism. This helps build community among participants because, as the Flocknote creator Matthew Warner says in his introductory e-mail, “We’re in this thing together!”

In encouraging all Catholics to read the catechism this year, the Holy Father illuminated the true heart and purpose of the catechism, saying, “On page after page,” or in Flocknote’s case, e-mail after e-mail, “we find that what is presented here is no theory, but an encounter with a person who lives within the Church.”

As for Rigby, she speaks with enthusiasm of her experience so far.

“I love the catechism. It combines Scripture and teachings from early Church Fathers… along with quotes from saints. It’s really good spiritual food.”

To sign up to “Read the Catechism in a Year,” visit flocknote.com/catechism


 

 

 

 

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