The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism series is a modernist 1960s revision of the venerable Baltimore Catechism series (which dates from the 1800s). This new revision introduces the ideas of the conciliar church and was published after Vatican II began. The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism was published in 1963 and The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1, a year later.
These catechisms introduce modernist heresies, novelties and conciliar language. The books are a doctrinally incoherent mishmash of the conciliar and the traditional. The New Saint Joseph series is a transitional work. For example, the Mass section at the back of each book, reflects the changes in the Mass that had been introduced as of the date of each printing.
Don’t be fooled by the “Baltimore” name! The publishing dates alone should warn vigilant Catholics of the danger of modernism!
Below, we review the first two books in this series. We do not address every problem with them, nor do we point out various places where the catechisms inconsistently give both the modernist error (usually given first) and also the Catholic teaching on the same subject. Our goal is to show you enough problems so that you stay away from these New Saint Joseph catechisms and warn other Catholics about them.
In all the quotes below, the emphasis is added.
The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism teaches:
Someday we will all be together in heaven ....
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 teaches:
All who follow Christ and share in His sacrifice will also go to heaven.
Page 45, ¶2 (Capitalization of the quote’s first letter “A”, is added).
There is no mention that only Catholics in the state of grace go to heaven and that a person does not truly follow Christ if he is not a member of the Catholic Church.2
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 teaches:
The word ‘communion’ means ‘a sharing.’ The more we love one another in Christ, the more we shall want to share our all with one another. ...
The sign of our wish to share is the taking of Holy Communion together. Eating at the same table with others is a sign of friendship. Partaking of the Eucharist at God’s table is a sign that we love God and that we love one another.
“Communion” means “union together”.
We see here that The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 has replaced union with God with union with man, in these definitions of “communion”. This emphasizes the modernist concept of “communion” as a community meal.
Compare this to the older Baltimore Catechism #4, Question #270:
You should go to Holy Communion as often as possible, and you should try every day to make yourself more worthy of that great Sacrament. Think of it! To receive your God and Savior into your soul, and to be united with Him, as the word communion means!
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 tells us that we are invited “to the table of Christ” which the catechism also calls “the Banquet Table”. Page 134.
The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism teaches that “the Father invites us to His table” and that “He gives us something to eat.” Page 49.
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 teaches that “Mass is a reminder — it reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.” Page 130.
These catechisms do not mention Christ as the Victim offered at Mass. Instead, there is frequent repetition of Mass being the offering of a gift. See, e.g., “The Mass is our gift of love to the Father”. The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1, p.187.
The modernists have no excuse that children cannot understand Catholic teaching on the Mass. Before Vatican II, the Church explained the Mass very well to children. Here is one example from 1929:
Prayer before Mass
O my God, I am about to take part in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I know it is the same sacrifice which Jesus made of Himself on the Cross.
I offer this Holy Sacrifice—
- To ADORE You, for You are my God and King;
- To THANK You, for all I have and am;
- To MAKE UP for all my sins and the sins of others;
- To BEG for help for the souls in Purgatory, for the sick and the dying, for all who forget You, for all who are in trouble, for myself and for everybody.3
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 teaches that “the Eucharist is a sign of food and drink.” Page 125. This catechism continues:
[T]he Holy Eucharist is a sign. ... The Eucharist is a sign of Christ with us. ... The Eucharist is a sign of the presence of Christ among us.
Notice this catechism teaches the Holy Eucharist is a sign of food and drink. Not only does this indicate the Holy Eucharist is just a symbol, but the catechism includes “drink” because at a meal, we drink as well as eat. Here the catechism both reinforces the modernists’ meal theology as well as portends the conciliar practice of receiving communion under both species.
Further, there is no mention of Transubstantiation or of the fact that one receives the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ when one receives just the Sacred Host without the Precious Blood.
There is no mention here that when we receive Holy Communion we receive “an increase in sanctifying grace and all the virtues in our souls”, as stated in older Baltimore Catechisms. (This is one of six reasons given in the traditional catechisms for why Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist.)
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 does not mention that a person cannot receive the Holy Eucharist if he is in the state of mortal sin (nor why that is so).
Because the Mass is portrayed as eating and drinking at a meal, The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism shows children standing at the Elevation of the Host. Page 48. This portends the conciliar church practice of standing at the elevation and can cause one to doubt whether the Host is really God.
The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism states that, at the elevation, the priest “raises the Host for all to see.” Pages 56. This statement omits that crucial fact that the priest is offering our Dear Lord (in the Host), to God the Father.4
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 contains a picture showing the priest face-on saying Mass, viewed from the other side of a table. Page 187. There is no crucifix and no tabernacle. Traditional catechisms never show this angle, which prepares people for the new mass to come, facing the people.
This catechism promotes the novelty introduced at about that time, in which the priest has abandoned the traditional words he says while distributing Holy Communion and simply says “The Body of Christ”, to which the communicant responds “Amen”. Page 192. This novelty portends the novus ordo practice and is evil for at least five reasons:
The Catholic definition of the “Communion of Saints” plainly teaches that it includes only those in the Catholic Church. For example, the old Baltimore Catechism #3 teaches:
Q. 70. How many branches or parts of the Church are there?
A. There are three branches or parts of the Church, called the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant.
Q. 71. What do we mean by the “Church Militant”?
A. By the “Church Militant” or “fighting Church” we mean all the faithful who are still upon earth struggling for their salvation by warring against their spiritual enemies.
Q. 72. What do we mean by the “Church Suffering”?
A. By the “Church Suffering” we mean the faithful in Purgatory, who are being purified from the last stains and consequences of their sins.
Q. 73. What do we mean by the “Church Triumphant”?
A. By the “Church Triumphant” we mean all the faithful now in heaven, rejoicing with God that they have defeated their spiritual enemies and attained their salvation.
Q. 74 Explain the “Communion of Saints.”
A. The “Communion of Saints” means that the members of the three branches of the Church can help one another. We can assist the souls in Purgatory by our prayers and good works, while the Saints in heaven intercede for us.
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 falsely teaches that the Communion of Saints is all of us sharing with one another. Here are the catechism’s words:
[T]he more we love one another the more we will share in the graces and spiritual riches that God has given every one of us. This sharing is the ‘communion of saints’.
Page 65. There is no mention of members of the Catholic Church who are in heaven and in purgatory. Instead, this modernist catechism teaches that the communion of saints is “every one of us”. There is no mention that, among those on earth, only Catholics are included in the Communion of Saints. This catechism also omits the traditional language (Church Triumphant, Church Suffering and Church Militant).
Lastly, this modernist definition of the communion of saints declares that God gives grace to “every one of us”. The Catholic Faith teaches that grace is a free, undeserved gift of God that God does not give to everyone. It is a heresy (taught by Vatican II) that God gives everyone grace.5
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 uses conciliar terminology regarding the other sacraments. For example, in place of the Catholic name of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, the catechism refers to the “Anointing of the Sick”. Page 163. This is the conciliar church’s name, which promotes the conciliar church’s error that this anointing is not reserved for those in danger of death.
Further, the catechism focuses on how an angel came to strengthen Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. Page 163. The catechism then states: “In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, Our Lord Himself comes to strengthen the sick person.” Page 164. Emphasizing only Our Lord’s role, the catechism omits that a priest must administer this sacrament.
There is no mention of the spiritual aspects of the Sacrament:
The New St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism #1 treats of the Sacrament of Holy Orders without mentioning when Christ instituted this sacrament, nor mentioning any of the priestly powers that are conferred, especially:
Instead there is merely a Bible quote telling us to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest”, with an illustration of Christ and his apostles in a field, with the caption: “Jesus sends His apostles to labor in His harvest and to take care of His sheep.” Id. This bland social-worker treatment fits with liberation theology and with the protestant idea of “ministers of the gospel”.
Stay away from this modernist catechism series! Use the old (1800s) Baltimore Catechism series. The old Baltimore Catechisms are not perfect and one should always be vigilant. However, they are generally very good and are available for free on the internet.