Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. SPL has also reproduced 29 Questions Explaining Indulgences and 46 Questions to Help Explain the Sacraments. Those who missed Part I of The End of Man can visit What Is Meant By the “End of Man” and 10 other Questions.
On the End of Man
Q. 137. How is the soul like to God?
A. The soul is like to God because it is a spirit that will never die, and has understanding and free will.
Q. 138. Is every invisible thing a spirit?
A. Every spirit is invisible — which means can not be seen; but every invisible thing is not a spirit. The wind is invisible, and it is not a spirit.
Q. 139. Has a spirit any other quality?
A. A spirit is also indivisible; that is, it can not be divided into parts, as we divide material things.
Q. 140. What do the words “will never die” mean?
A. By the words “will never die” we mean that the soul, when once created, will never cease to exist, whatever be its condition in the next world. Hence we say the soul is immortal or gifted with immortality.
Q. 141. Why then do we say a soul is dead while in a state of mortal sin?
A. We say a soul is dead while in a state of mortal sin, because in that state it is as helpless as a dead body, and can merit nothing for itself.
Q. 142. What does our “understanding” mean?
A. Our “understanding” means the “gift of reason,” by which man is distinguished from all other animals, and by which he is enabled to think and thus acquire knowledge and regulate his actions.
Q. 143. Can we learn all truths by our reason alone?
A. We can not learn all truths by our reason alone, for some truths are beyond the power of our reason and must be taught to us by God.
Q. 144. What do we call the truths God teaches us?
A. Taken together, we call the truths God teaches us revelation, and we call the manner by which He teaches them also revelation.
Q. 145. What is “Free Will”?
A. “Free Will” is that gift of God by which we are enabled to choose between one thing and another; and to do good or evil in spite of reward or punishment.
Q. 146. Have brute animals “understanding” and “free will”?
A. Brute animals have not “understanding” and “free will.” They have not “understanding” because they never change their habits or better their condition. They have not “free will” because they never show it in their actions.
Q. 147. What gift in animals supplies the place of reason?
A. In animals the gift of “instinct” supplies the place of reason in guiding their actions.
Q. 148. What is instinct?
A. “Instinct” is a gift by which all animals are impelled to follow the laws and habits that God has given to their nature.
Q. 149. Have men as well as brutes “instinct”?
A. Men have “instinct,” and they show it when placed in sudden danger, when they have not time to use their reason. A falling man instantly grasps for something to support him.
Q. 150. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Q. 151. Why is it necessary to know God?
A. It is necessary to know God because without knowing Him we cannot love Him; and without loving Him we cannot be saved. We should know Him because He is infinitely true; love Him because He is infinitely beautiful; and serve Him because He is infinitely good.
Q. 152. Of which must we take more care, our soul or our body?
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body.
Q. 153. Why must we take more care of our soul than of our body?
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body, because in losing our soul we lose God and everlasting happiness.
Q. 154. What must we do to save our souls?
A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.
Q. 155. What does “worship” mean?
A. “Worship” means to give divine honor by acts such as the offering of prayer or sacrifice.
Q. 156. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.
Q. 157. What do we mean by the “Church, through which God speaks to us”?
A. By the “Church, through which God speaks to us,” we mean the “teaching Church”; that is, the Pope, Bishops, and priests, whose duty it is to instruct us in the truths and practices of our religion.
Q. 158. Where shall we find the chief truths which the Church teaches?
A. We shall find the chief truths which the Church teaches in the Apostles’ Creed.
Q. 159. If we shall find only the “chief truths” in the Apostles’ Creed, where shall we find the remaining truths?
A. We shall find the remaining truths of our Faith in the religious writings and preachings that have been sanctioned by the authority of the Church.
Q. 160. Name some sacred truths not mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed.
A. In the Apostles’ Creed there is no mention of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, nor of the Infallibility of the Pope, nor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nor of some other truths that we are bound to believe.
Q. 161. Say the Apostles’ Creed.
A. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into hell: the third day He arose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty: from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.