My brief review of Msgr. Alfred N. Gibley’s We Believe: A Simple Commentary on the Catechism of Christian Doctrine, recently republished in a digital edition, for Amazon:

Msgr. Gibley’s gift for aphorism and analogy is striking, and one can only imagine what it was like to hear his explication of the faith as a student at Cambridge when the man was in his prime. He explains and elaborates on the simple text of the Catechism of Christian Doctrine, a.k.a., the venerable “Penny Catechism” of England & Wales, in much the same way that Baltimore Catechism 4 provides additional commentary for BC 1 and 2. Kudos to TAN and Amazon for releasing this modern classic in the Kindle format. Here’s a sample from his response to Q7 of Chapter 1 that stands the modernist interpretation of the Gospel on its head:

“[S]o much of our modern Christianity gives the impression that what we are here for is to put the world right. To make a true contribution to putting the world right, we must first establish the kingdom of God in our own hearts. This primary duty is ours all the time and any effect we have outside ourselves will be either an overflow, a consequence or an instrument of that. The primary province for each of us is not the Third World but our own hearts.”

And here he is later in the chapter on the advantages of memorization:

“Some people now deride the system of teaching by heart, saying that it is pure parrot-work without any value. That is nonsense. A child who learned the whole Catechism by heart often did not understand the exact or precise meaning of what he was learning at the time. But once he had got a definition clearly in his mind he had something to come back to and ponder again and again for the rest of his life. In the modern method of teaching, the child has nothing to come back to or ponder.”

I’m looking forward to devouring the rest of the book on my next trip.

For more on Msgr. Gibley’s fascinating life, see this post, this obituary, and this essay.

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