The Back of the Book: The Catechism of the Catholic Church has bee and remains a worldwide bestseller. It was published in the UK by Continuum under the Geoffrey Chapman imprint. Many people found the language of the original Catechism quite hard to follow.
There has been a need ever since for a concise version of the original Catechism – in simpler language with all technical terms explained fully for the lay reader. Michael Shaughnessy has achieved this aim brilliantly and his final text has received the full approval of the Church authorities. The language used is clear and the author has taken some pains to provide lucid explanations, which are elegantly written and as non-technical as possible. The material from the original Catechism has been effectively synthesised to provide a reliable and readable resource text. The book has been written in narrative style which is preferable to the traditional question and answer form of catechisms of past times. Throughout, a great weight has been given to the second sections of each part of the original Catechism, in order to focus on the application of the general truths of the faith to particular circumstances. Michael Shaughnessy set himself an ambitious task. He has accomplished it with enormous skill and intelligence.
NotJustLaura’s Review: This slim volume was lent to me by one of my RCIA teachers. She suggested that it might be useful for me to dip in and out of. Of course, me being me, I have read it cover-to-cover!
Having had some contact with the Catechism proper, I was expecting a difficult and, possibly, incomprehensible time with its concise cousin. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to find that Father Shaughnessy’s book is really very readable. In fact, I enjoyed it!
The book works through the Catechism very methodically, beginning with the Profession of Faith and finishing with the Our Father. Father neatly summarises what the Catechism has to say and provides extensive cross-referencing should one wish to read more. His writing is economical – he does not explain terms or elaborate on concepts – and I found this made me think about what I was reading in a manner which a ‘milk for babes’ text is unlikely to do.
After finishing this book, I find my faith to be invigorated and informed.