Matthew Plese

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Matthew Plese Catholic Speaker

Travels from Chicago, Illinois

Matthew Plese is a Third Order Dominican who resides in Chicago, IL.  Matthew is a practicing Certified Public Accountant, Author, and Catechist. He is the President of an organization whose mission is to make the best in Catholic religious education and Sacramental preparation available for those who need it.  He is an expert in Catholic fasting and abstinence, having written many articles and a book on the topic. Matthew spends his leisure time traveling, reading, writing, running marathons, and enjoying Catholic culture.

Matthew also creates a variety of Catholic content for Catholic publications. He is also the author of Catholic Book Summaries: 54 Traditional and Contemporary Classics (2013), Eschatology: The Catholic Study of the Four Last Things (2015), Understanding the Precepts of the Church (2015), The Roman Catechism Explained for the Modern World (2022), The Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence (2023), and Restoring Lost Customs of Christendom (2024). 


A) History of Catechisms and Information on the Vast Treasury of Resources We Really Have

Unbeknown to many, the 1992 catechism is far from the only valid catechism.  St. Peter Canisius, who was instrumental in fighting Protestantism in Germany, wrote the first catechism in 1555 known as the "Catechism of St. Peter Canisius."  Shortly afterward in 1566, the Roman Catechism was commissioned by the Council of Trent, overseen by St. Charles Borromeo, and issued by His Holiness Pope St. Pius V.  It remains the most authoritative catechism in print.  Known as the “Roman Catechism,” the “Catechism of St. Pius V,” or also as the “Catechism of the Council of Trent,” this book has unfortunately fallen into extreme disuse.

Some of these older Catechisms, like the Baltimore Catechism and the Roman Catechism, are still in print. Others that have fallen out of print are being published once again by the work of Tradivox. And organizations are combining passages from various Catechisms along with Scripture and relevant prayers and commentary to teach the Faith in a way that resonates with more people.

As the many catechisms show us, the Faith is the same yet it can often be explained in slightly different ways. Whereas one definition or example may teach one person, another person may be better able to understand it explained in a different way. The Faith is changeless and timeless but we can use many different catechisms to teach the one, same Faith.

B) Why the Roman Catechism and Trent Is Still So Important

The Roman Catechism, commonly known as The Catechism of Trent, is the most important catechism in the history of the Catholic Church. It was composed by order of an Ecumenical Council, at the height of the Protestant Revolution, to give pastors precise, succinct definitions of the dogmas of the Faith, and it became the gold standard for teaching and preaching the dogmas of the Faith for 350 years. It is still authoritative, and it is the only catechism quoted in the 1992 Catechism—it is quoted 20 times—because it gives such beautiful, clear definitions of the dogmas of the Faith. “The Roman Catechism Explained for the Modern World” written by Matthew Plese in 2022 gives an excellent chapter by chapter explanation of the Catechism of Trent, so that contemporary Catholic readers will hopefully be motivated to appreciate and make use of this great treasure which remains the most authoritative Catechism ever written.

 C) Practical Steps to Incorporate More Fasting and Penance for the Good of Souls and our Students
In principio, in the beginning, the very first Commandment of God to Adam and Eve was one of fasting from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. Genesis 2:16-17), and their failure to fast brought sin and disorder to all of creation. The second sin of mankind was gluttony. Both are intricately tied to fasting.

The Church has hallowed the practice of fasting, encourages it, and mandates it at certain times. But the periods of fasting and abstinence have changed considerably. How did the Early Christians practice fasting including the Eucharistic Fast? How and why did that intensify leading up to the glory days of Christendom? And how did we regress from fasting one-third of the year and abstaining two-thirds of the year to observing fasting only twice a year?

True liturgical renewal and the restoration of the Sacred in the Church must include the restoration of fasting and abstinence. Our Blessed Lord said some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. St. Basil the Great also affirmed the importance of fasting for protection against demonic forces: “The fast is the weapon of protection against demons. Our Guardian Angels more really stay with those who have cleansed our souls through fasting.” Fasting is integral to the life of a Catholic yet few priests or faithful know this foundational element of a Catholic life.

In early 2023, Matthew Plese published "The Definitive Guide to Fasting and Abstinence" based on over 3 years of research into the forgotten and untold history of how the Catholic Church. Many priests said that 95% of it was entirely new to them. And in January 2024, he launched the second edition of the book highlighting how fasting has deteriorated not only for Americans but in many other nations. We can and must rediscover the joy of fasting and in so doing, we will find this discipline augments and enhances our worship of God in the Sacred Liturgy.

D) Teaching Today's Youth through Christian Morality, CRT, Truly Understood Anthropology, the Existence of Evil, etc.

How can we help prevent young people from leaving the Faith? Are we helping those who go through serious life challenges and doubts? Are we helping those who don’t feel connected to the Faith? Are we helping those who question Church matters on morality.

Today’s catechists must be armed with the answers to hard questions – why does sin exist? Why does God allow evil? Is evolution real? Why must we reject abortion, same sex marriage, contraception, greed, lust, and vain pursuits? Why is CRT wrong? By tackling the hard questions and getting answers to them we can help prevent the loss of Faith to the next generation of Catholics. And catechists must yearn, pray for, and work for the salvation of souls of all of their students.

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