All you need to know about the Catholic Faith is the number thirty-six
When I was thinking about joining the Catholic Church, I bought an $8 copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to get to the bottom of what the Church actually teaches.
One of the things that struck me about the Catechism was its organizational structure: it is divided into four parts; and despite the complexity and immensity of this amazing work, it finds its systemization in the four most basic formularies of the Catholic Faith: the Apostles' Creed, the seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer.
Later on in my Catholic journey, I have had occasion to re-visit this ingenious organizational scheme, and I have to say it still impresses. For as most older Catholics know, these four formulae are divisible into parts to help young people remember them. The Apostles' Creed has twelve articles; there are seven Sacraments (pace Luther, et al.); there are ten commandments in the Ten Commandments; and the Lord's Prayer has traditionally been divided into seven petitions (three "thy" and four "us").
As I was sharing with a friend of mine about the profound implications of these bite-sized pieces of the Truth, I realized that I should make out the list for meditation. After all, if the man who would become His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI could write thousands of pages (or at least oversee thousands of pages) about these four foundations of Catholic Faith, surely I could use them as a primer for prayer.
For your edification and prayer-life, then, I offer the thirty-six truths of the Christian Faith:
The twelve articles of the Apostles' Creed
1. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
7. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit.
9. I believe in the Holy Catholic Church and the communion of saints.
10. I believe in the forgiveness of sins.
11. I believe in the resurrection of the body.
12. I believe in life everlasting.
The seven Sacraments
15. Eucharist (communion)
17. Holy Orders
18. Penance (confession)
19. Anointing of the Sick (unction)
The Ten Commandments
20. I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.
21. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
22. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
23. Honor your father and your mother.
24. You shall not kill.
25. You shall not commit adultery.
26. You shall not steal.
27. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
28. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
29. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
The seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer
30. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.
31. Thy kingdom come.
32. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
33. Give us this day our daily bread.
34. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
35. And lead us not into temptation.
36. But deliver us from evil.
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