I had the privilege to be a lecturer for adults in the Maryvale Certification in Catechesis program at the Maryvale Center in Kansas City. My topic was Catechetical Methodology. Before discussing methodology I covered the things that must be included in our catechesis.
Divine Revelation is given to mankind through Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition and is celebrated within the Liturgical Life of the Church.
Catechesis therefore must be…
Each of these components is essential if our catechesis is to be systematic and organic. We always want to present the faith as a unified whole. St. Thomas Aquines said The Catholic Faith “is one thing”. It is not merely a whole bunch of teachings, rules or regulations, but it is one. When we catechize with this in mind we will help others see that the faith is a unified whole rather than seperate topics all under the umbrella of Catholicism.
Catechism Paragraph 102 says: “Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely:
You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.”
The Scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation through history. Jesus is the interpretive key to the whole Bible (everything in the Old Testament points to Him and everything in the New Testament is referenced to Him).
Our Catechesis must be grounded in Sacred Scripture. Scripture should be a “driving force” in your adult presentation, retreat, RCIA, evangelization efforts and in the classroom with kids and teens. The more a disciple of Christ is “soaked” in the Scriptures the more efficacious is his catechesis.
Doctrine means “teaching”. In the Catechism paragraph 89 it speaks about Dogma’s being “lights along the path of faith”. Dogma’s are doctrines formally defined.
The Teachings of Christ and His Church are rooted in Scripture and passed on through the Apostles and their successors. Doctrine is not dry and static but it is God’s revelation and leads others to a greater understanding in what we as Catholic believe. There are for key foundations of our Faith: The “Faith Professed” (as expressed in the Creed), the “Faith Celebrated” in the liturgy and Sacraments, the “Faith Lived” in and through the Commandments and the “Faith Prayed”, as seen in the prayer that Summarizes the Gospel Message (the Our Father).
The 4 foundational truths that need to be not only included in our catechesis but should also be integrated in order to show that the faith is organic and unified. In addition there are the hierarchy of truths that need to be considered in our catechesis: The Holy Trinity, first and foremost, being the central mystery of our Faith. Also, the Incarnation, the Paschal Mystery, the dignity of the human person and the Church. These are considered the “Golden Threads” which are seen on every page of the Catechism. Catechesis to truly “echo” the Faith must include the foundational truths and interrelate the golden threads.
One thing we often forget is that teaching about doctrine assumes that we are catechizing with the awareness of 1) The primacy of grace (God’s initiative is always first), 2) The Faith is attractive and beautiful. And how what we believe is 3) personal – Christ’s message to us is a personal invitation and a personal encounter. When we pass on the faith with these three things in mind we help others discover the beauty of our Catholic Faith and its treasures.
Liturgy is “the participation of the people of God in “the work of God” (CCC 1069). Our Catechesis should help people participate in the work of God in the present moment (during our catechesis) and lead them to the communal Eucharistic Liturgy at Mass.
Why? I can’t say it any better than the Catechism
“The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows.”13 It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God. “Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men.”14 (CCC 1074)
Since it is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed we would be remiss in not seeking to draw those we catechize more deeply into the life of the liturgy which includes their participation in the Sacraments – most especially Reconciliation and Eucharist.
When our catechesis is scriptural, doctrinal and liturgical the faith is authentically being handed on with the mind and the heart of Christ and His Church. What a privilege it is to hand on the faith, whole and entire, with the assistance and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
How is your catechesis scriptural, doctrinal and liturgical?