Is It Time to Get Back to the No-Nonsense Baltimore Catechism ?

So there I was, listening to the news, wrapping myself around all of this hatred  against Catholics and Christians and not understanding any of it, when I noticed the kitchen faucet was leaking. Ah-ha–a diversion. I go into the garage to get my Allen wrenches (they are those little hex-headed thingies)  so I can remove the faucet handle. As I reach up to get them from the shelf I trip over a large plastic tub and the lid pops off. I look down and what is on top of everything?  Why it is two copies of the old Baltimore Cathechism. One is the “New St. Joseph First Communion Catechism from 1963 and the other is the “New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism” from 1964. Don’t ever try to tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. I started to laugh and I just know that God had nudged  my Guardian Angel who in turn caused me to trip over that plastic tub. (Faith is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?)

To the point: I began to flip through the old Catechisms and I quickly marveled at the simplicity they held within their pages. Who made you?  God made me.—-Did God make all things?  Yes, God made all things.  Of course there is the question most of us older folks remember well: What must you do to be happy with God in heaven?  Answer: To be happy with God in heaven I must know him, love Him, and serve Him in this world.

The last sentence above sums up everything. However, guided by the empowered forces of evil prowling about the world seeking the ruin of souls, many (especially those in the universities teaching our kids)  have decided God is a non-entity. God does not exist for some. Even the President asked for God’s blessings on Planned Parenthood. They perform over three hundred thousand abortions a year and our representative in the White House tells them, “God bless you”. Whatever are these people thinking. It is obvious that we are encapsulated in a relatavistic world where self-gratification rules. And if you stand for God and wish to defend Him and His natural laws you will be ridiculed, mocked and defiled.

The Baltimore Catechism is so simple to understand. I had forgotten  about the beauty  and the purity of it. It may even possess  an innocence and certain naivete.  I tell you this. Children need it. It establishes a foundation. These youngsters will be facing a world that will try to destroy their religious beliefs. This could be  a world that will make it illegal to profess your faith…a world that most of us are just starting to get a glimpse of. A high-school teacher was arrested just the other day for showing a bible in her classroom. Can you imagine 20 years from now.

About LarryPeterson

Larry is a Catholic/Christian author and blogger and posts weekly commentary. His work has appeared in such publications as Zenit from Rome, Aleteia, New Evangelists, Top Catholic Blogs, Big Pulpit, and others. His first children's picture book, "Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes" was published in 2011. In 2012, his full-length novel, "The Priest and the Peaches" was released. His second novel, "The Demons of Abadon", was released in the spring of 2016. Larry’s latest novel, “Horizon Homeless” was released in ebook format in May of 2017 and the paperback followed on July 27, 2017. Larry belongs to the Catholic Writer’s Guild, The Catholic Writer’s Society, The Knights of Columbus, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He has been an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for over twenty years bringing communion to the homebound and hospitalized. He lives in Pinellas Park, Florida and his kids and six grandchildren all live within three miles of each other. His first wife died of cancer in 2003. He remarried four years later and became the primary caregiver for his wife, Martha who came down with Non-Hodgins Lymphoma in 2011. The cancer was in remission when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in October of 2014. Sadly and unexpectedly, Martha passed away on March 27, 2017. The writer says, "God has me where he needs me and I try my best to make Him proud. Larry’s blog site is You can find more at
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16 Responses to Is It Time to Get Back to the No-Nonsense Baltimore Catechism ?

  1. Dennis P McGeehan says:

    Agreed! I teach CCD and have ofteb referenced the questions and answers I memorized from the Baltimore Catechism. In many ways going back to rote memorization for the early grades would be an improvement. We need to first teach them what to believe, which is today considered brainwashing, then allow them to explore the whys of what we believe. We have today kids and adults who really can’t explain what they believe let alone a firm foundation on which to justify their beliefs. What most have are feelings about what they believe and feelings are very changable.

  2. Amen, amen, amen. It is also a fantastic source for meditation. Simplicity and straightforwardness doesn’t allow for the dissimulation of the devil.

  3. Don Mulcare says:

    I have a few Baltimore Catechisms around the place, probably in a box near the Allen wrenches. Did you notice how they thickened with each grade level? The Guardian Angel has also nudged me into favorable circumstances, demonstrating God’s sense of humor. The one problem with the BC was memorization; never a strong point with me. It was also evident that memorization may get the student a good grade, but didn’t necessarily alter his life.

  4. my children did not learn basic facts about the bible or the Catholic Church but the emphsis was on Catholic morality and the beautitudes.
    I am often shocked by their lack of foundational truth yet they do pray and have faith

  5. Johnny says:

    My generation has had no religious education whatsoever. I’m not sure if the older generation is all too aware of how little we had to work with to come to the faith.

    Finding the Truth is harder than it’s ever been.

  6. Kathleen Flood says:

    I grew up on the Baltimore Catechism and memorized it year-over-year from cover-to-cover. As an adult I realized I knew nothing of my faith and began formation to become a Master Catechist–an exhilarating faith experience. Here’s what I learned during formation about the Baltimore Catechism: from 1865 to the mid-1960s, the Baltimore Catechism was the uniform text of Christian doctrine in the U.S. Its learning-model was child-centered, and its methodology was memorization. It contained 421 questions and answers–11 related to purgatory and limbo, but no teachings on Easter or the Paschal Mystery; no “hierarchy of truths” of the Catholic faith; it was Biblically illiterate (no scriptural references); and it had no sense of social justice. This year–in addition to the Year of Faith–we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the new Catechism. The USCCB also publishes a compendium in Q&A format for folks who like the simplicity of succint answers to Church teachings.

  7. V says:

    Somebody kick the folks at Ignatius Press or somewhere and get it republished. I wonder who has the rights to it these days– or do we have to write something comparable to bring it back?

    Unlike the rest of y’all, I was a convert, so I don’t have a convenient copy handy. Heck, I still need to save up for an up-to-date missal. (Laudate ap on my phone means it feels less…urgent)

    • Don Mulcare says:

      Hi V,

      There is a huge, thick missal with the latest version of the prayers at mass or you could subscribe to a monthly booklet such as Living with Christ (PO Box 6015, New London, CT 06320). It has many added features including “Today’s Good News,” stories that illustrate the Gospel of the day. They have a voucher in this month’s edition that can get you an annual subscription for $24.95.

      However, all of the daily mass scriptures are on line. I think they are at the National Council of Catholic Bishop’s page. I’m sure you could find all of the other missal prayers somewhere on line, for free.

      God Bless,


    • V,

      The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechisms that Larry mentions are indeed in print. Here’s a link to one of them, and a number of Catholic suppliers carry several versions / editions:

      Interestingly, I had just polled my kids the week before Larry wrote this column, and they said that of all the religious ed choices they’ve seen, this was their favorite — straightforward, and a quick read.

  8. Don Mulcare says:

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is on line. It provides an informative table of contents and links to every section.

    It may be too much for younger readers, but serves as a complete, authoritative and free-of-charge resource for everyone else. It’s available in print form as well.

  9. Is It Time to Get Back to the No-Nonsense Baltimore Catechism ? | The Catholic Writers Guild

  10. Crucesignata says:

    Ah, very refreshing article. :) I agree with every word! Mom brought be up memorizing all of the NSJBC’s (First Communion, 1, 2, and 3), and it is this that instilled an interest in me for the Holy Catholic Faith. It also gave me a solid foundation to work off of and is a constant source of help be it in Highschool, Theology class, theological discussions/debates, youth ministry, and most of all day-to-day life. I highly recommend that any who do not have copies buy one! :)

  11. James says:

    No, because the Baltimore Catechism is not a good catechism. It provides a very legalistic understanding of sin. (It calls all sins that are “grave matter” mortal sins, without considering knowledge or consent.) It has a deficient understanding of grace, stating that we must “keep ourselves in the state of grace”, implying that we have to earn our way to heaven.

    And as Kathleen Flood points out, it left out major portions of the faith.

  12. CK says:

    Exact reprints of the original set of Baltimore Catechism set 1-4 and including the primer are available at under their catechism section. They also have a free unit study to go with their children’s bible history that includes the use of the first Baltimore Catechism. The teachings in these books is solid and clear and the 100 years of use is comparable to those days where the Faith was stronger where as it is easily seen in the new way of things that the Faith declines rapidly. Why reinvent the wheel when there is already a good simple and useful way to instruct our little ones in the Faith?