Catechesis in our time Personal notes from Pope John Paul II Sowers of Truth
Catechesis is about Christ Before Christ ascended to his Father, he gave the Apostles a final command–to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that he had commanded.
Catechesis is about Christ “ Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Mt 28:18-20
Catechesis is about Christ WE HAVE BUT ONE TEACHER, JESUS CHRIST: PUTTING INTO COMMUNION WITH THE PERSON OF CHRIST
Catechesis is about Christ Christocentricity of all authentic catechesis
Catechesis is about Christ At the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Catechesis is about Christ It is Jesus who is “the way, and the truth, and the life”, and Christian living consists in following Christ.
Catechesis is about Christ The primary and essential object of catechesis is “the mystery of Christ”.
Catechesis is about Christ To reveal in the Person of Christ the whole of God’s eternal design reaching fulfillment in that Person.
“ To make all men see what is the plan of the mystery and to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (and be filled) with all the fullness of God”.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING 6. Christocentricity in catechesis means the intention to transmit not one’s own teaching or that of some other master, but the teaching of Jesus Christ, or, the Truth that He is.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING It is Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God, who is taught–everything else is taught with reference to him.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING It is Christ alone who teaches–anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ’s spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with is lips.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING Every catechist must constantly endeavour to transmit by his teaching and behaviour the teaching and life of Jesus.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING The catechist will not seek to keep directed towards himself and his personal opinions and attitudes the attention and the consent of the mind and heart of the person he is catechizing.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING Above all, the catechist will not try to inculcate his personal opinions and options, as if they expressed Christ’s teaching and the lessons of his life.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING Every catechist should be able to apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me”.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING Saint Paul said: “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you”.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING In order that he can say: “My teaching is not mine”! every catechist must have :
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING every catechist must have : [a] An assiduous study of the word of God transmitted by the Church’s Magisterium, [b] A profound familiarity with Christ and with the Father,
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING every catechist must have : [c] a spirit of prayer, and [d] detachment from self.
TRANSMITTING CHRIST’S TEACHING Every baptized person, precisely by reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life;
Catechesis is about Christ Every human being has the right to seek religious truth and adhere to it freely, that is to say “ without coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and any human power”,
Catechesis is about Christ 21. There is absolute need for systematic catechesis: = it must be systematic, not improvised but programmed to reach a precise goal; = it must be sufficiently complete;
Systematic catechesis: = it must deal with essentials, without any claim to tackle all disputed questions; = it must be an integral Christian initiation, open to all the other factors of Christian life.
Catechesis & Life Experience 22. It is useless to play off orthopraxis against orthodoxy: Christianity is inseparably both.
Catechesis & Life Experience Firm and well-thought-out convictions (orthodoxy) lead to courageous and upright action (orthopraxis).
Catechesis & Life Experience It is useless to abandon serious and orderly study of the message of Christ in the name of a method concentrating on life experience.
Catechesis & Life Experience No one can arrive at the whole truth on the basis solely of some private experience,
Catechesis & Life Experience No one can arrive at the whole truth without an adequate explanation of the message of Christ, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life”. (Jn. 14:6)
Catechesis Is About Christ 27. Catechesis will always draw its content from the living source of the word of God transmitted in Tradition and the Scriptures,
Catechesis Is About Christ For “sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the Church.”
Catechesis Is About Christ Catechesis will be all the richer and more effective for reading the texts with the intelligence and the heart of the Church and for drawing inspiration from two thousand years of the Church’s reflection and life.
Catechesis Is About Christ 29. Care should be taken not to reduce Christ to his humanity alone or his message to a no more than earthly dimension, but that he should be recognized as the Son of God.
Catechesis Is About Christ It is important to display before the eyes of the intelligence and of the heart, in the light of faith, the sacrament of Christ’s presence constituted by the mystery of the Church.
Catechesis Is About Christ It is important to explain that the history of the human race, marked as it is by grace and sin, greatness and misery, is taken up by God in his Son Jesus, “foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come”.
Catechesis Is About Christ Finally, it is important to reveal frankly the demands–demands that involve self-denial but also joy–made by this new life in Christ Jesus,
Catechesis Is About Christ This new life in Christ Jesus is the same thing as life in the world but lived in accordance with the beatitudes and called to an extension and transfiguration in the hereafter.
Catechesis is about Christ 30. In order that the sacrificial offering of his or her faith should be perfect,
Catechesis is about Christ The person who becomes a disciple of Christ has the right to receive “the word of faith” not in mutilated, falsified or diminished form but whole and entire, in all its rigour and vigour.
Catechesis is about Christ Theologians and exegetes have a duty to take great care that people do not take for a certainty what on the contrary belongs to the area of questions of opinion or of discussion among experts.
Catechesis is about Christ Catechists for their part must have the wisdom to draw from the true sources, in the light of the Magisterium.
Catechesis is about Christ Catechists must refuse to trouble the minds of the people they are instructing with outlandish theories, useless questions and unproductive discussions.
Catechesis is about Christ The most valuable gift that the Church can offer to the bewildered and restless world of our time is to form within it Christians who are confirmed in what is essential and who are humbly joyful in their faith.
Catechesis is about Christ The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly–and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being–
Catechesis is about Christ but thoroughly - he must come to Christ with his unrest and uncertainty, with his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death.
Catechesis is about Christ He must, so to speak, enter into Christ with all his own self, he must ‘appropriate’ Christ and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself”.
Catechesis is about Christ If this profound process takes place within such a man, it then bears fruit not only in adoration of God, but also a deep wonder at himself:
Catechesis is about Christ How precious must I be in the eyes of my Creator if I gained so great a Redeemer, and if God should give His only Son, so that I should not perish but have eternal life.
Catechesis is about Christ In reality, the name for this deep wonder and amazement at man’s worth and dignity is the Gospel, the Good News. It is also called Christianity.
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth JP II General audience of January 9, 1985
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth Catechesis is a work of the Church which spreads the Good News throughout the world.
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth Through catechesis the Church is aware of responding to man’s most essential questions.
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth Where does man come from? Why does he exist? What are his relationships with God and with the invisible world?
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth How must he behave in order to achieve the goal of life? Why is he subject to suffering and death, and what is his hope?
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth To these problems catechesis brings God’s response.
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth Catechesis aims to give an understanding of a doctrine that is not simply the product of certain personal researches, but the truth communicated to us through divine revelation.
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth Therefore, in communicating the truth of salvation, catechesis is concerned with making manifest the fundamental questions arising in man’s heart.
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth Catechesis shows how God has answered them in his revelation with a gift of truth and life that surpasses man’s deepest expectations. (cf. 1 Cor 2:6-9) .
Every Catechist Must Be Faithful to the Integrity of Revealed Truth The role of catechesis is to give certitude, based on the authority of revelation.
Integrity of Content Far from raising doubts or confusion through the problems it considers, catechesis enlightens the intellect and strengthens it with firm convictions.
Integrity of Content Certainly, with the answers it supplies, catechesis introduces the human soul more deeply into the mystery of revelation.
Integrity of Content But this mystery gives light to the mind even if during this earthly life it does not dispel all the shadows.
Integrity of Content We cannot understand everything, but what is understood is enough to point out the fundamental truths and the meaning of life.
Integrity of Content The fundamental structure of catechesis is the meeting between man’s question and God’s response.
Integrity of Content Although being attentive to the human side of the problem, catechesis is not limited to reflections of a human character,
Integrity of Content = nor to investigations of a philosophical, psychological or sociological order, = nor to the effort merely to preface revelation.
Integrity of Content Catechesis is aware of having to expound revealed truth and have it understood, a truth which it does not have the power to reduce or attenuate.
Integrity of Content Catechesis seeks to adapt its teaching to the capacity of those who receive it.
Integrity of Content But catechesis does not claim the right to veil or suppress a part of the truth which God himself has willed to communicate to man.
A Problem of Faith It can be clearly seen that the Christian message may be difficult to understand and accept. Many ideas contrary to evangelical doctrine are circulating in the world.
A Problem of Faith Some maintain an attitude of opposition to everything that is taught in the name of the Church.
A Problem of Faith In the face of such resistance, the catechist could be tempted to retreat, = not to expound the Christian message in all its truth and all its demands on life, and
A Problem of Faith In the face of such resistance, the catechist could be tempted to retreat, = to limit himself to some more admissible points.
A Problem of Faith It is then that the catechist must remember that he has been charged with a teaching that surpasses him. He must strive to propose the teaching as he received it.
A Problem of Faith Above all, the catechist must be aware that in his work of catechesis he has at his disposal a divine power that enables him to transmit his faith,
A Problem of Faith The Holy Spirit makes the word penetrate into the heart of his listeners to the extent that the catechist’s word is faithful to the truth it has to express.
A Problem of Faith The problem of catechesis is a problem of faith. Catechesis therefore counts on the power of grace to transmit to children and to adults the integral gift of the faith.
A Problem of Faith Every catechist has the duty to communicate the whole Christian message and receives from Christ himself the ability to carry out this mission fully.
Catechesis Pope John Paul II General audience, 1/9/1985
The Spirit of Faith Is Essential to Every Christian Catechesis Pope John Paul II General audience of January 16, 1985
The Spirit of Faith & Christian Catechesis Christ offered his listeners the whole doctrine he had been sent to teach.
The Spirit of Faith & Christian Catechesis In the face of the resistance of those who heard him, Christ expounded his message with all the demands of faith that it involves.
The Spirit of Faith & Christian Catechesis Despite objections and defections, Jesus maintained his doctrine and asked his disciples to accept it. (cf. Jn 6:60-69).
The Spirit of Faith & Christian Catechesis In transmitting the entirety of his message to his listeners, Jesus counted on the illuminating action of the Holy Spirit, who would later make them understand what they couldn’t yet grasp. (cf. Jn 14:26; 16:13).
The adaptation of catechesis must not mean the reduction or mutilation of the content of revealed doctrine, but rather the effort to have it accepted with an adherence of faith, under the light and with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic Catechesis stresses the necessity for an organic and systematic teaching, not an improvised one.
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic If it is true that “routine leads to stagnation, lethargy and eventual paralysis, we must acknowledge that improvisation begets confusion on the part of those being given catechesis;
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic Improvisation also begets all kinds of deviations, and the fracturing and eventually the complete destruction of unity”. (CT 17) .
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic = Catechesis must deal with essentials, without any claims to tackle all disputed questions; = Catechesis must be sufficiently complete;
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic = Catechesis must deal with essentials, without any claims to tackle all disputed questions; = Catechesis must be sufficiently complete;
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic Catechesis must be an integral Christian initiation, open to all the other factors of Christian life. (CT 21) .
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic The intention to give a complete teaching arises spontaneously from an attitude of faith and love which is loyal to all of revelation and wishes to communicate it.
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic The spirit of faith is essential to every Christian catechesis.
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic Catechesis must be regulated in its contents and in its methods by the structure proper to such transmission.
Catechesis: Organic & Systematic This includes the inseparable connection between Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. (cf. DV 10) .
Adequate Doctrinal Preparation Is Fundamental for Catechists General audience of March 6, 1985 The obligation of catechesis implies for the Church an intense work of formation of catechists. Again, Christ’s example enlightens us. During his ministry, Jesus devoted himself above all to forming those who were to spread his message throughout the whole world. He dedicated much time to preaching to the crowds, but he reserved more time to the formation of disciples. He had them live in his company in order to inculcate in them the truths of his message. He did this not only by his words, but by his example and his daily contacts. He revealed to his disciples the secrets of his kingdom. He had them enter the mystery of God, whose revelation he himself brought. He stirred up faith in them and gradually developed it with an ever more complete instruction. When he gave them the mission to teach all nations, he was able to entrust this task to them because he had gifted them with the doctrine they were to spread. But the full understanding of that doctrine would come to them from the Holy Spirit, who would give them the divine power of the apostolate. The formation of catechists is an essential element in the common commitment to the development and the vitality of the Church. It is necessary everywhere. Doctrinal formation is a fundamental necessity, seeing that catechesis cannot be limited to teaching a minimum of truths that are learned and repeated by rote. If catechists have the mission to inculcate in their listeners the whole Christian doctrine, they must first have learned it well themselves. They must not merely witness to their faith, they must communicate its content. The teaching received in preparation for Baptism, Confirmation or Communion is often insufficient for an exact and profound knowledge of the faith to be transmitted. A more systematic study is indispensable. At times, circumstances have forced those responsible for catechesis to have recourse to the cooperation of people of good will, but who lack an adequate preparation. Such solutions are generally wanting. To assure the future of a solid catechesis it is necessary to entrust this work to catechists who through study have acquired doctrinal competence. This doctrinal formation is even more necessary in so far as catechists live in a world in which ideas and theories of all kinds abound. These are often incompatible with the Christian message. Catechists must be able to react to what they see and hear, discerning what can be accepted from what must be rejected. If they have assimilated the Christian doctrine and have understood its meaning, they will be able to teach it with fidelity, even maintaining an open spirit. Doctrinal formation requires an effort of the intellect for learning revealed doctrine, yet it must at the same time deepen the faith. The essential goal of catechesis is the communication of the faith, and this must guide the study of doctrine. A study that would question the faith or that would introduce doubts about revealed truth would not serve catechesis. The development of doctrinal knowledge must coincide with a development of faith. For this reason, institutes of catechetical formation must be considered above all as schools of faith. Catechesis cannot be considered a mere professional activity, since it exists in order to spread Christ’s message in the world. For this reason catechesis is at the same time a vocation and a mission. It is a vocation, because there is a call from Christ for those who want to devote themselves to this task. It is a mission, because from the very beginning catechesis was established in the Church in order to carry out the command of the Risen Savior: “Go and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19). The teaching of Christian doctrine aims not merely at knowledge of truth, but at the spread of faith. It stirs up an allegiance to Christ in the intellect and in the heart and enlarges the Christian community. Catechesis must therefore be undertaken as a mission of the Church and a mission for the Church. Catechesis contributes to building up the Mystical Body of Christ, to its growth in faith and charity. The missionary spirit inspires catechists to dedicate all their strength and talents to teaching. This makes them more aware of the importance of their work and enables them to face all difficulties with greater confidence in the grace that sustains them. We therefore hope that progress in the formation of catechists will foster everywhere the development of the Church and the Christian life on the basis of that sincere, convinced and consistent faith to which catechesis is directed. v.villa jpa1 catechesis.doc 5/14/97 It is also called Christianity.