With the exception of the Bible, which reportedly adorns more of the world’s bookshelves than any other printed volume, the most widely circulated book is the “owners manual” that people acquire when they purchase an automobile.

Though every car is mandated to have such a book, few of those highly instructive and useful volumes are ever read or studied. In this they resemble the Bible which everyone has but few bother to read.

There is a third volume that should occupy a distinctive place in the life of every Catholic. Released in 1994, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was the brainchild of Saint John Paul II who entrusted its completion to Christoph Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna and a committee of internationally known scholars.   

Over the centuries there have been many catechisms issued by the Church, none more famous than the Catechism of the Council of Trent which was released over five centuries ago.

In the modern world, after the Old and New Testaments, no book is more important than the present Catechism and none is more relevant to the present needs of the Catholic people than the 1994 edition. 

Like many really useful books, this latest Catechism is not easy reading. Nor is it a volume that one can digest in a single sitting. A prudent person might attempt to peruse two or three pages a day for a year or so.

One thing is certain — readers find the most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church is an exceedingly interesting and informative primer of Catholic teachings. Little is left unsaid and much will fascinate even well-informed Catholics about their holy faith.

One reader characterized the Catechism as a “Treasure Trove of Catholic Belief” wherein topics of interest roll off the pages at every turn.

Being further informed about the Catholic faith is or should be a major motivation in one’s daily trek toward eternal life. Those who honestly strive for virtue will find the Catechism a refreshing exposure for a more virtuous journey here on old planet earth. 

Pope Saint John Paul asked the Church’s pastors, along with all the Christian faithful, to study this Catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it as a means of fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith to the spiritually anemic people of modern times.

The Catechism is a sure and authentic reference for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms. It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation.

“It is meant to support ecumenical efforts that are motivated by the fervent desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the Catholic faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, is offered to every individual who asks us to give an account of the hope that is in us and who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes.”

Already there is even a superb “digest” of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is readily available on the shelves at Amazon or other bookstands. For those who want an authentic and handy handbook of Catholic teachings, this smaller but quite adequate handbook comes highly recommended

If all roads lead to heaven, surely one needs an accurate map to describe the scenery enroute.