Catechesis will always draw its content from the living source of the word of God transmitted in Tradition and the Scriptures, for Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture ,make up a single sacred deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the Church” (Catechesi Tradendae 27)
Jesus Christ is the centre & source of catechesis for in Him is the fullness of all revelation. Why?
(d) God has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit
(e) Jesus Christ is the summit of the Gospel as all peoples receive salvation through His death & resurrection on the cross
(f) Jesus Himself teaches love as the foundation of Christian living. Every Christian should live loving God and one another.
(cf. GDC, no.94)
1. THE SOURCE OF CATECHESIS – THE WORD OF GOD
The content of the catechesis is drawn from the living source of the Word of God, which is transmitted to us in Scripture and Tradition, the single sacred deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the Church, jess Christ is the Word made man and his voice continues to resound through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. The sacred Scriptures are like the “speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verbum 9), and Sacred Tradition “transmits in its entirety the word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verbum 9).
The word of God is reflected upon by the people of God in a spirit of faith. A concrete and practical understanding of this word takes place at different times in the history of the Church and they are concretized through ecumenical councils, synods of bishops, papal pronouncements, ecclesial documents in specific situations and language. This is an ecclesial service of magisterium to give an authentic interpretation to the word of God and is done in the name of Christ. The official catechism are also a concrete expression of this reflection.
1.2 Sacred Liturgy:
The sacred Scriptures have a particular place in the liturgical celebrations when they are proclaimed and interiorized. This word takes on a symbolic expression which explains what is contained in sacramental celebrations. Prayers in the liturgy also contain the reflected word of God. The different creeds present in the liturgy are also an authentic faith expression of this word of God.
1.3 Christian Witness:
The lives of the saints is a practical lived out experience of the word of God in its two thousand years history. Each saint has lived out this word in his/her own charismatic manner in which it has been witnessed. The patristic writings are particular expression of this witness.
1.4 Theological Reflection: (CT 61, CD 405)
According to the philosophical and theological reflection of the various peoples, these faith expressions are expressed in a particular form and language. The distinct characteristic needs of the moment calls for different style of that same word.
1.5 Human Culture and Religious Traditions
The religious traditions of different peoples and their cultural values are also expression of the word of God, and are recognized as “seed of the word” in their history. Their moral and religious traditions are also a concrete expression of this word of God.
2. CRITERIA FOR THE PRESENTATIONS OF THE MESSAGE
Although all these sources spring from the same word of God they are inter-connected and should express qualities which are necessary for their authenticity in catechesis. The following criteria should be borne in mind for a genuine catechesis.
2.1 Christocentricity of the Message
Christ of the Word of God, and hence catechesis should always refer to Him, who in turn communicate who the Father is to us. Chrostocentricity in catechesis can be understood in various ways: 1. when it is connected to Christ, the Son of God, and all followers personally relate to Him; 2. when it refers to the historical Jesus of Nazareth, who brings salvation and grace to humanity; and 3. when it communicates what Christ revealed and is most important to us as human beings. Hence, the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2.2 Trinitarian Dimension of the Message
What Christ has revealed concerns the mystery for the Trinity, and the Christian’s relationship with each other Persons of the Divine trinity. This is how the internal structure of catechesis shoaled be presented, I what concerns the particular acts of the Divine Persons, and the vital implications they have for intimate relationship with Christ’s disciples.
2.3 Salvific Function in the Message
The message of Jesus is Good News for humanity, which recreates us in an even more powerful way than at creation. The basic aspects will include: that God’s love is close to us; that it destroys death and gives eternal life; that it brings about God’s Kingdom of justice, love and peace; that the Kingdom is realized in Christ Himself; that the Church serves to make real this Kingdom and that the history of humanity is journeying towards that end.
2.4 Liberative Dimension of the Message:
Catechesis announces Christ’s Good News, which is a message of liberation, in a particular way for the poor, the under privileged and the disadvantaged. Ti should also show that the Church not only announces this, but also works for its fullness and realization. Hence, catechesis should be attentive to: the liberation of the whole person; moral education, and a commitment to work for social justice.
2.5 Ecclesial Nature of the Message:
This criteria expects catechesis to communicate a faith that is shared by the Christian community, without ignoring its development in history: beginning with Christ’s preaching, its development by the Fathers of the Church and its expression through successive centuries in ecclesial history. This expression of faith should be in “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all” (Eph. 4, 5), with an awareness of belonging to the Christian faith community.
2.6 Historical Character of the Message:
Through catechesis, the Church is faithful to the historical character of the “economy of salvtion” which is realized in time: begun in the Old Testament, reached its highest point in Jesus, and awaits its consummation I the future. An example of this is seen in Patristic catechesis, which accompanied the exposition of the mysteries of faith, in fidelity to the narration (narratio) of God’s wonderful deeds and the awaiting (expetatio) of Christ’s return.
This character calls for: 1. Biblical catechesis, which recognizes in faith the great stages: preparation in the Old Testament, the completion in the Gospels and the history of the Church which transmits this revelation; 2. Doctrinal catechesis, which explain the creed and the moral content of the Christian faith; 3. sacramental catechesis or mystagogy which explains the spiritual understanding of the economy of salvation; and 4. Existential catechesis, which consists in an explanation of the mystery of God’s presence and action, behind “the sign of the time”.
2.7 Inculturation of the Message:
Christ’s incarnation is the original “inculturation” of the word of God and is the model of all evangelization by the church, “which is called to bring the power of the Gospel into the very heart of culture and cultures” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 20).
3. NORMS FOR PRESENTING CATECHETICAL CONTENT
The following norms should be borne in mind when we are engaged in inculturaiton, in adaptation and in the distribution of the content for catechesis.
3.1 Integrity of the Gospel Message:
A fundamental norm for the content of catechesis is to safeguard the integrity of the message and avoid any partial or distorted presentation. Christ made known to us all that he heard from the father (Jn. 15, 15) and he asked us to teach all that he has commanded us ((Mt. 28, 19). This requires of us:
1. Teach the entire Gospel message, without ignoring the fundamental elements of the faith ad without selecting what regards the deposit of the faith. We follow the divine pedagogy by progressively and gradually communicating the truths of the faith by following intensive integrity and extensive integrity.
2. An authentic presentation of the Gospel message we have to be attentive to the purity of the truth especially when translating the essentials into the cultural language of the people without rendering it meaningless or corrupted.
3.2 A Comprehensive and Hierarchical Message
In order that the message be comprehensive its presentation should respect the “hierarchy of truths”, which respects the priority of a truth over another. This means:
1. We recount the “marvels of God” (mirabilia Dei) in its historical presentation which is organized in reference to Jesus Christ, the “center of salvation history”.
2. We have an example in the Apostles’ creed, which is a synthesis of and a key to reading all of the Church’s doctrine.
3. We develop a sacramental catechesis, because the sacraments are regenerating forces, where the Eucharist holds a unique place as the ‘sacrament of sacrament’.
4. We also stress the moral message of the Gospel, the double commandment of love
of God and love of neighbour, which sums up he Decalogue and are lived in the spirit of the Beatitudes, the magna carta of Christian life.
5. We teach the “Our Father” which synthesizes and hierarchically structures the immense riches of the prayer of the disciple of Jesus.
3.3 A Message Meaningful for the Human Person:
The end of catechesis is to put the human person in communion with jesus Christ, and reveals the sublime vocation of the human person, a model of which is also found in Christ.
3.4 A methodological Principle:
Both the deductive (from principles to life) as well as the inductive ( form life to truths) methods are equally valid. Particular circumstances as well as the faith level of the catechized could determine which is more appropriate, and hence the need for careful investigation to determine which is the best method.
2. ELEMENTS OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION/CATECHESIS
WHAT is proclaimed CONTENT
WHO proclaims TEACHER
HOW the proclamation takes place METHOD
TO WHOM it is proclaimed LEARNER/AUDIENCE
Small Group discussion on which of these elements is most important. Why?