It occurred to me that we could do something (…) with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (…) for certain inspiration from the Holy Spirit when we are in distress, but as a reminder of the riches of our Faith, by way of receiving a glimmer of sound instruction in the midst of many things we tend to forget. It also occurred to me that while CatholicCulture.org does (…) have (…) all the paragraphs in the Catechism so that users can look up both words and particular paragraph numbers with ease.
And this means, with a very little work, I can randomize the Catechism. So what would that look like, assuming you don’t keep it on your desk or coffee table for easy flipping back and forth and punching with your finger? I decided to play with some of our behind-the-scenes programming code, and when I was done, it looked exactly like this:
Link: The Random Catechism
So now I’m clicking the link just above, which randomly selects and displays one of the nearly three thousand numbered paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and then clicking again and again on the option beneath each paragraph for “another random paragraph”—just to see what I get. You can try it too. It’s free! I mean, seriously, who would pay for a random paragraph from the Catechism?
So on my first click, I read that “We do not believe in formulae, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to touch….” That’s the first of three rich sentences in paragraph 170, one of which is a quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas. But you can read just this first sentence again. It’s worth thinking about.
Now I click on the link for “another random paragraph” and this pops up:
77 “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.” Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”
Despite so much bad news, this makes me glad to be a Catholic.
Paragraph 1450: “Penance requires…the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete and fruitful satisfaction.”
This is a little scary, which means it is challenging. It was incorporated in the current catechism right out of the Roman Catechism from the sixteenth century, also known as the “Catechism of St. Pius V”. Yes, we do show you the footnotes.
It makes you think, doesn’t it? I don’t know if this is worth anything to anybody else. But it worked for me today, when I began by thinking that every topic was a dull topic. That fear is now gone, at least for the moment, so perhaps this is not such a worthless tool after all. Perhaps opening ourselves to Catholic thoughts is just a few clicks away, with a freshness that may bear fruit.
Author: Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org.