Welcome to the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Program for the Roman Catholic Church. This program is designed to help men and women find their place in Creation and lead them towards God. This is accomplished by learning of Christ’s truth, of the necessity of His one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Catholic Church, and by asking God to grant us His grace and blessings so that we can understand His truth. When Our Lord ascended into Heaven, He charged His disciples with the duty of continuing this work of evangelization throughout time. He said:
“All power is given to me on heaven and earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commended you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
God created man so that we might know, love and serve Him in this world, and be happy for eternity with Him in Heaven. Through the first sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents, man lost favor with God, and became subject to death and the Devil. The gate to Heaven was closed to man, due to this offence against God. Christ, our God, became man for the love of us, and ransomed us from death through His sacrificial death on the Cross at Calvary. He paid the debt of man’s sins and reopened the gate to Heaven with His own divine Blood. When we are baptized, the mark of Original Sin that we inherit from Adam and Eve dies in Christ, as Christ died on the Cross. And, as Christ rose from the dead in His glorified Body, we are raised to a new life with Him through Baptism as members of His Mystical Body, which is the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is truly the Mystical Body of Christ. Through Her we are joined to God; through Her God dispenses His grace, His blessings and the means of salvation to man here on earth. Through the Church we are made heirs to God’s eternal kingdom. If we are not joined to Christ’s Mystical Body, the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we are not united with God here, and we do not receive the sign of heirs to the kingdom of Heaven.
To join the Catholic Church is an act that unites us to God, so long as we serve Him faithfully. It is an action that deals with our fundamental relationship with God here on earth, and in eternity. To serve God we must know Him, and His eternal truth. We must follow Christ’s eternal and unchanging teachings to enter eternity with Him in Heaven. For He has told us:
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
God is with us always in the Catholic Church, assuring that His truth is present throughout the ages. It is available if we seek it.
"Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." (Matt. 7:7-8)
Part of the way that we seek Christ is by learning His teachings. The Apostles and disciples of Christ stayed with Christ for years, listening to all that He had to say, learning from His example, His works and His life. The fundamental truths of Christ’s teachings which have been handed to us through the Apostles and their successors are presented by the Catholic Church in a number of traditions, books and writings. The Order’s catechetical program uses two of these books, which are titled The Catechism of the Council of Trent and Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.
While we seek God here on earth, we must learn from the authority of Catholic Church, from Her Holy Fathers, from the teachings of the popes, so that we can see Christ’s truth through the mist and murkiness of the world that obscures its light. And we must also pray, asking God to grant and preserve us in His truth and grace. Errors have been proposed throughout all time to divert us from God’s truth. This will not change. To truly find Christ’s truth is to find freedom.
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
Christ, God, is the truth, and our life; He is the beginning and the end; He is our eternal goal. May your mind be enlightened by the light of Christ, so His eternal truths may be revealed to you. May the peace of the Lord be always with you.
For Christ the King,
Department of the Grand Prior
II. BOOKS FOR THE CATECHESIS PROGRAM
• The Catechism of the Council of Trent, published by TAN Books and Publishing.
• Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, published by TAN Books and Publishing.
III. READING SCHEDULE FOR THE CATECHESIS PROGRAM
The Catechism of the Council of Trent should be read first. This book is logically divided into sections. You may read the book from beginning to end, and conveniently pause where any new section is presented. For example, you may like to pause between reading the sections regarding the sacrament of Baptism and the sacrament of Confirmation.
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma should be read second.
You may speak or write to a Catholic priest within the Order at any time with questions that you have regarding the Faith. You may also direct such questions to members of the Order who are designated to work with the Grand Prior in the Catechesis Program.
IV. COMPLETION OF THE CATECHESIS PROGRAM
To facilitate your development and evaluate your progress, designated times will be arranged for you to speak with a Catholic priest in the Order throughout the course of your studies. After completing the studies, and a priest has determined that you have a sufficient understanding of the Faith, a formal ceremony will be held for you at Mass, where you will make a Profession of Faith, receive Baptism if necessary, and be received into the Catholic Church. After completing this program, and becoming a member of the Catholic Church, you are not obligated to join the Order in anyway. The Profession of Catholic Faith that is used in this program was promulgated by the Council of Trent and is presented below.
It is also necessary to pray daily during the Catechesis Program for us to understand Christ’s teachings. Wisdom is a gift from God; we must ask Him to grant His blessings and graces upon us. The prayers to be said have been proscribed by the Grand Prior, and are presented below.
V. DAILY PRAYERS TO BE SAID DURING THE CATECHESIS PROGRAM
The following prayers are to be said daily during the Catechesis Program. While praying, remember to ask Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother to grant you the grace of wisdom and understanding, so that you might be enlightened with the eternal truth of God.
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
THE OUR FATHER
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
THE HAIL MARY
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen
ACT OF FAITH
O MY God! I firmly believe that Thou art one God in Three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.
ACT OF HOPE
O MY God! relying on Thine infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
ACT OF CHARITY
O MY God! I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen.
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
VI. THE PROFESSION OF CATHOLIC FAITH PROMULGATED BY THE COUNCIL OF TRENT: THE PROFESSION OF CATHOLIC FAITH
Promulgated solemnly by Pope Pius IV and the Council of Trent
• I, N., with firm faith believe and profess each and every article contained in the symbol of faith which the holy Roman Church uses; namely:
• I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in
• one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages; God from God, light from light, true God from true God; begotten not made, of one substance (consubstantial) with the Father, through whom all things were made;
• who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was made incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
• He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, died, and was buried; and
• He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven;
• He sits at the right hand of the Father, and He shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and of His kingdom there will be no end.
• And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who equally with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke through the prophets.
• And I believe that there is one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.
• I confess one baptism for the remission of sins; and I hope for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
• I resolutely accept and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and the other practices and regulations of that same Church.
• In like manner I accept Sacred Scripture according to the meaning which has been held by holy Mother Church and which she now holds. It is Her prerogative to pass judgment on the true meaning and interpretation of Sacred Scripture. And I will never accept or interpret it in a manner different from the unanimous agreement of the Fathers.
• I also acknowledge that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and that they are necessary for the salvation of the human race, although it is not necessary for each individual to receive them all.
• I acknowledge that the seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of the seven, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be repeated without committing a sacrilege.
• I also accept and acknowledge the customary and approved rites of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of these sacraments.
• I embrace and accept each and every article on Original Sin and Justification declared and defined in the most holy Council of Trent.
• I likewise profess that in Mass a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice is offered to God on behalf of the living and the dead, and that the Body and Blood together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, and that there is a change of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood; and this change the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation.
• I also profess that the whole and entire Christ and a true Sacrament is received under each separate species.
• I firmly hold that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained there are helped by the prayers of the faithful.
• I likewise hold that the saints reigning together with Christ should be honored and invoked, that they offer prayers to God on our behalf, and that their relics should be venerated.
• I firmly assert that images of Christ, of the Mother of God ever Virgin, and of the other saints should be owned and kept, and that due honor and veneration should be given to them.
• I affirm that the power of indulgences was left in the keeping of the Church by Christ, and that the use of indulgences is very beneficial to Christians.
• I acknowledge the holy, Catholic, and apostolic Roman Church as the mother and teacher of all churches; and…
• I unhesitatingly accept and profess all the doctrines (especially those concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching authority) handed down, defined, and explained by the sacred canons and ecumenical councils and especially those of this most holy Council of Trent (and by the ecumenical Vatican Council I). And at the same time:
• I condemn, reject, and anathematize everything that is contrary to those propositions, and all heresies without exception that have been condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church.
• I, N., promise, vow, and swear that, with God’s help, I shall most constantly hold and profess this true Catholic faith, outside which no one can be saved and which I now freely profess and truly hold. With the help of God, I shall profess it whole and unblemished to my dying breath; and, to the best of my ability, I shall see to it that my subjects or those entrusted to me by virtue of my office hold it, teach it, and preach it. So help me God and His holy Gospel.