Monday, July 2, 2012
Indulgences for Teaching and Learning Christian Doctrine

A "Solemn Obligation" Given by the Church

As stated by Holy Mother Church, "The faithful who devote twenty minutes to a half hour to teaching or studying Christian Doctrine may gain: an indulgence of 3 years.  The indulgence is plenary on the usual conditions twice a month, if the above practice is carried out at least twice a month."

The Church not only bestows upon parents the responsibility to educate their children, but She offers all the Faithful involved in learning and teaching religious Doctrine the temporal remission of sins. How truly generous Holy Mother Church is.  Many times when we are given an obligation and we perform, we do not receive a great reward for doing our duty.  But in this instance, we are given, for the performance of this duty, the partial remission of the punishment due to our sins. 

Teaching Christian Doctrine is also forgotten as a spiritual work of mercy.  Not everyone is considered capable or obligated to perform the first three spiritual works of mercy if they do not have proper tact, knowledge or training to do so. The last four are considered to be the obligation of all people without condition:
  1. To instruct the ignorant;
  2. To counsel the doubtful;
  3. To admonish sinners;
  4. To bear wrongs patiently;
  5. To forgive offenses willingly;
  6. To comfort the afflicted;
  7. To pray for the living and the dead.
And we must not forget the obligation placed specifically on parents for raising their children in the Faith.  As stated in the following document by John Paul II, it is a "solemn obligation."
Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it.
But this idea of a responsibility to teach and promulgate the Sacred Deposit of the Faith dates to the very beginning of the Church, far before the time of Pope John Paul II. His Holiness Pope Leo XIII's Sapientiae Christianae (1890) explained the necessity of spreading the Faithful quite clearly:
15. ... Now, faith, as a virtue, is a great boon of divine grace and goodness; nevertheless, the objects themselves to which faith is to be applied are scarcely known in any other way than through the hearing. "How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Since, then, faith is necessary for salvation, it follows that the word of Christ must be preached. The office, indeed, of preaching, that is, of teaching, lies by divine right in the province of the pastors, namely, of the bishops whom "the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God." It belongs, above all, to the Roman Pontiff, vicar of Jesus Christ, established as head of the universal Church, teacher of all that pertains to morals and faith.

16. No one, however, must entertain the notion that private individuals are prevented from taking some active part in this duty of teaching, especially those on whom God has bestowed gifts of mind with the strong wish of rendering themselves useful. These, so often as circumstances demand, may take upon themselves, not, indeed, the office of the pastor, but the task of communicating to others what they have themselves received, becoming, as it were, living echoes of their masters in the faith. Such co-operation on the part of the laity has seemed to the Fathers of the [First] Vatican Council so opportune and fruitful of good that they thought well to invite it. "All faithful Christians, but those chiefly who are in a prominent position, or engaged in teaching, we entreat, by the compassion of Jesus Christ, and enjoin by the authority of the same God and Saviour, that they bring aid to ward off and eliminate these errors from holy Church, and contribute their zealous help in spreading abroad the light of undefiled faith." Let each one, therefore, bear in mind that he both can and should, so far as may be, preach the Catholic faith by the authority of his example, and by open and constant profession of the obligations it imposes. In respect, consequently, to the duties that bind us to God and the Church, it should be borne earnestly in mind that in propagating Christian truth and warding off errors the zeal of the laity should, as far as possible, be brought actively into play.
Resources for Teaching and Learning the Faith:

For those of you interested in teaching and learning the Sacred Doctrines of the Faith, I would ask for you to consider the curriculum of  The company is supported by several faithful Catholic bishops and has even appeared on EWTN.

The lessons follow a 7-step format with a final test at the end of each lesson.  Each lesson will guide you through the following:
  1. Introduction, Saint for the Day based on Liturgical Calendar, Description of the Lesson Topic
  2. Opening Prayer (For adults a decade of the Rosary; For children, it is another prayer).  Typically it is learned in both Latin and English
  3. Lectionary (Link to Daily Readings and mention of Scripture that concern the lesson topic)
  4. Catechism References (as they relate to the lesson's topic) from the CCC 2nd Edition and the Baltimore Catechism (in addition to the Catechism of the Council of Trent and Pius X Catechism)
  5. Lesson (A personally written section that explains and expands upon the Lectionary and Catechism in light of the Church teaching, beliefs, writings of the saints, etc)
  6. Activity
  7. Closing Prayer (For adults the Divine Office; For children, it is a decade of the Rosary)

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