Sunday School is based on the traditional Baltimore Catechism, the most famous catechism ever published in the English language. For almost a century, the Baltimore Catechism was the basis for virtually all Catholic religious-education classes in the United States.
In recent decades, the question-and-answer approach of the Baltimore Catechism has fallen out of favor, but it's hard to argue that Catholics have a more complete grasp of their faith today than they did during the heyday of the Baltimore Catechism. Because it encouraged the memorization of a series of questions and answers, the Baltimore Catechism was seen by some as discouraging intellectual enquiry about the fundamentals of the Faith.
That was never the aim of the Baltimore Catechism, however--quite the opposite. By covering the same material at different grade levels (the questions retained the same numbering in each volume), with additional material added as children grew older, the Baltimore Catechism was designed to help students come to a progressively more complete understanding of the Catholic Faith, and to provide them with a framework within which they could pursue further study.
And that's how we're going to use it in our Sunday School series. Each week, I'll provide a link to one lesson from Catechism No. 2 (commonly known as the "Confirmation Catechism") along with the corresponding lesson from Catechism No. 1 (the "First Communion Catechism"). The questions in the lesson from the First Communion Catechism are a subset of those in the Confirmation Catechism. You can use the former with younger students and the latter with older students and adults.
The questions and answers are designed to be memorized, and most lessons contain a dozen questions (or fewer)--an easy pace at one lesson per week. In addition, I'll offer a short commentary at the beginning of each lesson, and, as time goes on, I'll fill out the pages on each individual question with commentary on that question and links to appropriate passages in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church for further study.
This week, we'll start at the very beginning, with Lesson First, "On the End of Man." Lesson First from the Confirmation Catechism has twelve questions; Lesson First from the First Communion Catechism as eight.
You'll note that the latter lesson lacks questions 4, 5, 7, and 8, which are present in the former lesson. That illustrates how new material was added to each successive volume, while maintaining the numbering of the questions, so that students could come over the years to a more complete understanding of the Catholic Faith.
So check out this week's lesson, and if you'd like to share your thoughts or your plans for how you'll make use of our Sunday School, please leave a message in the comments!