Shakespeare in one scene has Hamlet walking up and down in the castle with a book open in his hand. When Polonius comes up and politely asks, “What is it that you are reading?” Hamlet replies, “Words, words, words.”
Until children have “over-learned,” that is, have memorized their catechism, it is just words, words, words. It takes time for the meaning to soak in. But memorizing must come first.
In order to understand, a person must know words and their meanings. To understand well, he must know the exact meaning of the words. But it is not enough to know words, rather one must be able to instantly recall the meaning of the words lest he read on and on and on, getting no meaning out of it!
Each field of study, such as economics or politics or even sports, has its own special words, or vocabulary. A person working in any field of study must be familiar with the terminology of that field. How much more we ought to be trained in the knowledge of Jesus and Heaven!
Proficiency in Language
With language, the key to all human activities, proficiency is basic. For example, the work on the Tower of Babel was suspended, was made impossible in fact, when the workers could no longer understand each others’ words!
A person who needs a foreign language is fully aware that sloppy knowledge of the other language will not do while visiting a foreign country! A person with an exact knowledge and understanding of that language is much easier to understand by others who speak the language. That person with great understanding of a foreign language can conduct day-to-day business. He has honed or fine-tuned his memory skills by learning another language. Such a person is not only valuable to others, especially his employers or others he represents, but he also has a richer appreciation of the foreign language and even the culture on which was based the language.
Language study is memory-recall training, and it demands mastery of each word and its possible meanings in different situations, in order to use it correctly in conversation. This requires drill, drill, drill in recitation. If you cannot express clearly what you think you know, you still do not know it. In learning another language, it is extremely helpful to practice with another student and recite the lessons.
Recite, recite, recite! Besides a foreign language, other subjects profit from the same method. If a student has the opportunity to tutor others, he immediately observes that he must explain and repeat, explain and repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.
The language of God is doctrine, which is contained in the catechisms. In order to live as God wants, we Catholics must know the catechism, which is the language of Catholic teachings, or doctrine. The evidence of this is in the Gospels. Jesus reminded the Jews in the Temple: “I was with you daily in the Temple teaching.” Jesus was teaching, His listeners were learning. Jesus was teaching them and us.
What’s Really Important
What we learn to understand in the catechism is most important. It is important to know “The Blessed Trinity is three divine Persons in one God.” This is hugely more important than memorizing that thirty-six inches equals a yard. Everyone needs to know that “The Mass is the unbloody Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.”
However, it is not enough to know. We must know what we know with certainty. This comes about with thorough memorization and through living the teachings of Jesus. What we learn in childhood should continue to grow and to develop all through life. Faith, like other things in life, requires practice.
It is by Catholic dogma in our catechism that we know what we must believe, and in knowing this, we know what Jesus wants us to learn. By memorizing the catechism questions and answers, which is the deposit of our Catholic Faith, we can form our character and our personality in the pattern of Godliness according to Jesus Christ. This is especially true if we live by what we have learned.
Be assured, the Catholic catechism is Heaven’s wisdom and knowledge passed down to the Catholic Church by the Holy Spirit. Jesus declared, “Everything I have from the Father, I have made known to you.” And again, Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will recall to your minds all that I have made known to you.”
How wonderful to know with certainty the eternal truths of Heaven through our Catholic catechism!