Whether you are a catechist standing at the front of the class, or a parent teaching your children about the faith, few resources are more important than the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the USCCB has made it available directly in your web browser.
Sure, this may not be the latest news (the Catechism of the Catholic Church online version was officially released in June, 2012), but it is a great tool for those who have not used it yet. Essentially, the online version of the Catechism, found on the USCCB website, allows you to read, search, and even print the resources you need.
I love reading, studying, and learning more about the faith - I have a shelf of books and Kindle full of ebooks to prove it - but few resources are more important in my library than my Catechism. It is one tool that rarely leaves the top of my desk.
As a writer, I reference the Catechism regularly to ensure that what I am sharing is correct. The search function provided with the online version helps to find keywords quickly and easily, and it provides short snippets of text (similar to your favorite search engine) of the paragraph it references.
Another useful feature is the index. I find it easier to browse through the online index than the print version because of the hyperlinks that take you directly to the right paragraph. Normally, I spend hours flipping back and forth through the Catechism, and this saves me a great deal of time.
The print function is useful, especially if you want to use it in class, but it is not as intuitive. If you are not paying attention, you may accidentally print off 50 pages of the Catechism, so be cautious when selecting passages to print. Generally speaking, though, most operating systems and printers allow you to choose the number of pages to print, and you can save yourself the cost of a new ink cartridge, as well as a few trees.
The one function that could be expanded would be the footnotes. They simply offer a pop-up window of the reference, and you still have to research that separately. With a little work, this could be expanded to link directly to Bible quotes in their online version of the Bible. But this is only a minor issue.
Of course, one of the greatest features of this version of the Catechism is its portability. You can now access the authority on Catholic doctrine from virtually any web browser with an Internet connection. I've tried to fit my Catechism in my back pocket, but it never fit. Now, I'll never have to worry about that again.
Overall, I find the Catechism of the Catholic Church online version to be an extremely useful tool. The Catechism itself is a necessity for parents and catechists alike, and the online version makes it much easier to use. This effort is one more example of the Church embracing technology, which is an important part of moving the Church forward in the 21st century.
Copyright 2013 Chad R. Torgerson
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