A Refresher on the Sacrament of Refreshment

Like some of you, I grew up learning the basics of my Catholic Faith from the Baltimore Catechism, and I really do thank God and my parents for it.

While it’s widely considered outré these days to promote rote memorization in religion (a.k.a. CCD) classes for kids, I think it’s a bad idea to discourage pedagogy that involves at least some memorization component. In fact, personally, I’d say the more memorization the better. The more effort that’s put into learning the truths of the Catholic Faith by heart the more likely the child will be to remain firmly anchored to the Church as he grows up and navigates through the often spiritually treacherous waters of this world.

Similar to memorizing the times tables in the 2nd or 3rd grade, there is a lot to be said for how we used to memorize the answers to the questions posed in the Catechism, back in the olden days.

Just as I could never forget that 3 x 5 = 15 and (like most people who were taught arithmetic in the 1960s) can mentally calculate multiplication equations instantly and with hardly a thought, I am fortunate to have been taught the Faith in a way that enables me to call up instantly from memory certain theological truths, as well as facts, like the ten commandments, books of the New Testament, etc. That’s how permanently engraved in the mind religious knowledge can be when it’s duly memorized and often recalled from memory. And the beauty part about it is that practically anyone can do it. It just takes some effort and determination.

In any case, all of that is simply an editorial gloss on the section of the Baltimore Catechism on the meaning, purpose, and effects of Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. 

We can all do with a refresher, now and then, on such an august subject, don’t you think?

Q. 895. Why did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?

A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist:

1. To unite us to Himself and to nourish our soul with His divine life.
2. To increase sanctifying grace and all virtues in our soul.
3. To lessen our evil inclinations.
4. To be a pledge of everlasting life.
5. To fit our bodies for a glorious resurrection.
6. To continue the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.

Q. 896. Has the Holy Eucharist any other effect?

A. The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation.

Q. 897. How are we united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist?

A. We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy Communion.

Q. 898. What is Holy Communion?

A. Holy Communion is the receiving of the body and blood of Christ.

Q. 899. Is it not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food?

A. It is not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food any more than it was beneath His dignity to enter the body of His Blessed Mother and remain there as an ordinary child for nine months. Christ’s dignity, being infinite, can never be diminished by any act on His own or on our part.

(continue reading . . . )


  1. Tim

    I’ve bought the Baltimore Catechism to use with my son. At 5 months old, he is a bit young, but he’ll grow into it.

  2. Patrick Madrid

    True, 5 months is a bit young, but by 1 year, he should be in full swing.

  3. Adoro te Devote

    Thanks for bringing this up. I have a professor who pointed out that all the people speaking against memorization can STILL quote the answers from the Baltimore Catechism. As my prof said, “Well, at least you have that!” He, and the rest of us growing up at the same time DIDN’T have such an opportunity. All we learned was how to spell “Jesus” in pieces of wood and glue symbols on felt banners. I’m all for memorization. While it doesn’t go far enough, there’s nothing wrong with it as a technique and a tool in conjunction with things that help what’s in the head get to the heart and effect change in the soul (through God’s grace, of course!)

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