Christian Doctrine: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine – Now available!
This catechism can be considered as a valid and effective catechetical tool for the work of the evangelization, a work which has to be realized with a new missionary zeal towards those who don’t know the Catholic faith and as well towards those who know it defectively and insufficiently.
May those who will read this catechism and those who will use it in the noble and meritorious work of teaching Christian doctrine, may be equipped with the sure and sacred doctrine of the Catholic faith, in order to stand, having their loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, they shall take the shield of faith, wherewith they shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (cf. Eph 6: 14-16). In this way they will be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks them the reason of their hope, with meekness and fear (cf. 1 Peter 3: 15-16).
-Bishop Athanasius Schneider
From the Foreword
For the first time, St. Robert Bellarmine’s long Catechism, written in the form of a dialogue, has been made available in the English Language.
Click here for the Kindle, $9.99!
This Catechism was composed by St. Robert Bellarmine in 1598 and received Papal approbation from several Popes, most notably Pope Clement VIII and one of the greatest theologians to ever sit on the throne of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XIV. It was translated into Latin for use throughout the Church and has run through a number of editions throughout the centuries. Being written as a dialogue, it goes beyond the rote memorization of other catechisms (including that of Baltimore) by giving a deep explanation of the teachings of the faith with comparisons and parables.
What is wholesome about this Catechism is not only the soundness of its doctrine, but the warmth that a great theologian that was accustomed to dealing with complicated matters of theology descends to lovingly explain the basic truths of faith in a manner that average laity can easily understand. It is not for nothing that St. Robert was made the Patron of all Catechists! Order today!
Student. Now that we have covered that, I am eager to know how the Mass is a compendium of the whole life of Christ; is it because I am so moved to devotion and attention when it happens that I am present there?
Teacher. I will say it briefly. The Introit of the Mass signifies the desire which the Holy Fathers had for the coming of Christ. The Kyrie eleison signifies the words of these Patriarchs and Prophets who sought from God the desired coming of the Messiah at such a time. The Gloria in excelsis means the Lord’s Birth. The subsequent Oratio or Collect signifies His presentation and offering in the Temple. The Epistle, customarily said at the left side of the altar (right to us) signifies the preaching of St. John the Baptist, inviting men to Christ. The Gradual, or response to the Epistle, signifies the life arising from the preaching of St. John. The Gospel, customarily read at the right side of the altar (our left), signifies the preaching of Our Lord whereby we move from the left to the right, i.e. from temporal things to eternal ones, and from sin to grace, where the lights are carried and the incense is enkindled and the Holy Gospel illumines the whole world, and it was filled with the sweet odor of Divine glory. The Creed signifies the conversion of the Holy Apostles and of the other disciples of Christ. The Secret, which immediately follows the Creed, signifies the secret plots of the Jews against Christ. The Preface, sung in a high voice, customarily ends with the Hosanna in excelsis, and it signifies the solemn entry of Christ into Jerusalem which He made on Palm Sunday. The Canon which comes after the Preface, represents the Passion of our Lord. The Elevation of the host teaches that Christ was lifted up on the Cross. The Pater noster, the prayer of Christ hanging on the cross. The fraction of the Host shows the wound that was made upon Him by the lance. The Angus Dei signifies the weeping of Mary when Christ was taken down from the cross. The Communion of the priest signifies the burial of Christ. The chant which follows with great joy shows the Lord’s Resurrection. The Ite Missa est, signifies the Ascension. The Final Blessing of the priest relates the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Last Gospel that is read at the end of Mass, signifies the preaching of the Holy Apostles when, filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to preach the Gospel through the whole world, and began the conversion of the nations.
S. I would like to know whether the honor that we show to saints and their relics and images is opposed to this Divine Commandment, because it seems that we worship all these things, seeing that we genuflect before them and pray to them just as in the presence of God?
T. The Church is the spouse of God and the Holy Ghost her teacher; for that reason there is no danger that she would deceive or would do anything or teach that something must be done that is opposed to the Commandments of God. Moreover, that I might respond to you in this particular matter, we honor and invoke the saints as friends of God who can be an assistance to us by their prayers and merits; still, we do not hold them as Gods, nor do we adore them as Gods. It is also not against this commandment that we genuflect in their presence, because that worship is not proper to God alone, but even to creatures, especially if it is offered to loftier ones, such as to the Supreme Pontiff and to kings. In fact, it is in common use in many places for religious to genuflect in the presence of their superiors; for this reason, it is no wonder if we show such worship to the saints reigning with Christ in Heaven, such as we show to certain men abiding here on earth.
S. Therefore, why do we say, in regard to the relics of the saints, that even though they exert no influence, nevertheless we pray and genuflect to them?
T. By no means do we direct prayers to relics, which we rightly know are without sense; rather, we honor them because they were the instruments of those holy souls by which they sent forth both excellent works of virtues and merits of life, and the living and glorious bodies existed in their own times, but now are a precious pledge of the love which they bear toward us even now. Consequently, we pour forth prayers before the relics of the saints, praying to those very saints so that through those very sweet pledges, which we hold, we might remember to call to our minds as we show that we have called to mind the honor expended to them.
S. Can the same be shown about images?
T. It is like this: because we in no way hold the images of our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin and the saints as Gods, for that reason they cannot be called idols like those of the Gentiles, for they are merely images which call to our mind Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints and to the extent that they are in place of books for those who do not read, because from these many Mysteries of the Catholic Faith are learned, as well as the life and death of many saints. Nor do we do them honor because the images are merely made from paper, or some metal, or however skillfully they are made, rather because they represent Christ, the Blessed Virgin or other saints. And because we know these images lack all life and sense, since they were made by human hands, we ask nothing from them. Still, while praying before them, we implore the help of those whom they depict, namely, the help of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and other Saints.
 Ephesians 5:23.
 Augustine, Contra Faustum, c. 12.
 Ambrose, de vid. Hieron. cont. Vigil.
 Council of Nicaea, 11.
 St. Gregory I, ep. ad Serenum.