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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A penny and God: a memory for life

Your correspondent, dear Reader, awoke early this morning thinking of the Penny Catechism. The Penny Catechism (so-called because it originally cost a penny and its price used to go up by one penny) is famous in the English speaking world as the little book which taught generations of Catholic children, in rote question and answer form, the rudiments of their faith. Miss Eagle was raised in the pre-Vatican II Australian Irish-Catholic tradition by the Sisters of Mercy, mostly Irish, in a parish staffed by Capuchin priests, mostly Italian-Americans. From a search of the net it appears that the Penny Catechism was not exactly the same everywhere. There were variations. Miss E is unable to find a text of the Australian version on the net - only reference to it.

Miss E often thinks on the first and second question in the Catechism:
1. Q. Who made you?
A. God made me.
2. Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him on this earth, and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

The way children were taught their catechism in those days, some would call it indoctrination. Perhaps. But while there has been much to doubt, challenge, and reject about Catholicism itself, there has never, in Miss Eagle's mind and spirit, been any doubt about these two fundamental issues. She started school at four and half years of age and is seven weeks away from the old-age pension but these two simple questions with their only slightly less simple answers have guided her life. They are pole stars, a blessed assurance.

But it was not this portion of the Penny Catechism that came to mind when Miss E's eyelids sprung open this morning. It was this:
Why do we call that day good on which Jesus Christ died?
We call that day good on which Jesus Christ died because, by his death on the Cross, he did redeem the world.

If anyone thinks that Miss E's memory is not correct (remember this is the Australian version not the U.S. or English version), could you please advise your correction. If you have a copy of the Australian version of the Penny Catechism ( for U.S. versions see here), would you mind scanning it and sending a digital copy to Miss Eagle at the email address on the sidebar, please? It would be greatly appreciated.

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