The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism, (No. 0)
By Bennet Kelley (Catholic priest)
Catholic Book Publishing, 2012 edition (first printing was in 1963), 64 pages
Every month or so, I stroll through our local (c)hristian book store just to see if there’s anything interesting. They have a small Catholic section with prayer cards to saints, medals, rosaries, and statues of Mary and Joseph (they sell a lot of the St. Joseph statues, which are used as good luck amulets in selling houses – see here.) A couple of weeks ago I was walking through the store and they had a display set up of items for sale for children’s first communion ceremony including “The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism” booklet.
My grammar school classmates and I had our first confession and first communion in the first grade. Oh, it was a big event! The nuns had us jump through hoops in preparation. When the big day came, all the girls looked like angels to me, all dressed in white with their veils. I understand the Catholic church has now postponed first communion to the second grade.
I picked up the “The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism” booklet mainly so I could post about it. Notice the cover. There’s some kids kneeling in front of a character who looks an awful lot like the Anglo-Saxon Jesus we’re used to seeing, but he’s wearing the robes used by Catholic priests. Get it? The message to the children is their priest is an “alter Christus,” another Christ. And he is offering the consecrated Jesus wafer to the young supplicants. The children are taught they actually consume the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ into their mouths and down into their stomachs.
Inside the booklet are several short chapters (see table of contents below) involving the basics of Catholic doctrine, written for children in 1st grade and higher (6+). The young reader learns about the nature of God and mankind’s sinfulness. It’s stated that, yes, Jesus died on the cross for man’s sins, thus opening the door to Heaven, but in order for each person to successfully walk through Heaven’s doors, they must participate in the church’s sacraments so they can receive God’s graces in order to obey the Ten Commandments and merit Heaven.
This booklet teaches the Catholic child that their soul must be free of sin for them to enter Heaven, and that is only possible by receiving the sacraments and successfully obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!).
It’s all here in black and white (along with many Beaver Cleaver-era color illustrations), folks. There’s nothing in this booklet about coming to Christ as a helpless sinner and accepting Him as Savior by faith alone. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch. It’s all about the sacraments and obedience leading to merited salvation. Yet some ecumenical evangelicals are somehow able to see clear to accepting Catholicism as just another Christian denomination???
It breaks my heart that millions and millions of Catholic children over the centuries have been taught to believe the lie of works salvation. I didn’t know Christ when I went through all that ritual and ceremony or afterwards. Neither did my classmates, friends, or siblings.
It’s a lie.