Gerard Gaskin wrote an article in the Australian Magazine AD2000 and noted six key themes for authentic catechesis from Pope John Paul II apostolic letter on Catechesis (Catechesi Tradendae).  His article can be found here.  Below I’ve quoted from the article the six key themes worth noting:

1. Christocentric catechesis: “Christocentricity in catechesis also means the intention to transmit not one’s own teaching or that of some other master, but the teaching of Jesus Christ … the Truth that he is” (n.6).

2. Catechesis must be systematic: Pope John Paul drew attention to the “… absolute need for a systematic catechesis … not improvised but programmed to reach a precise goal; it must deal with essentials” (n.21 ).

3. The integrity of content: The Pope asserts the “… right (of the person being catechised) to receive the ‘word of faith’ not in a mutilated, falsified form but whole and entire … there is no valid pretext for refusing him any part whatever of that knowledge” (n.30).

4. Orthodoxy versus orthopraxis: “It is useless to play off orthopraxis (right actions) against orthodoxy (right beliefs): Christianity is inseparably both.” The Pope attacks the “either or” argument, that the doctrinal formation of children will in some way be done at the expense of teaching them to lead good lives: “firm and well-thought-out convictions lead to courageous and upright action” (n.22).

5. Life experience: “It is also quite useless to campaign for the abandonment of serious and orderly study of the message of Christ in the name of a message concentrating on life experience. No one can arrive at the whole truth on the basis solely of some simple private experience” (n.22).

6. Methodology – memorisation: Whilst acknowledging that memorisation can lead to, “reducing all knowledge to formulas that are repeated without being properly understood”, the Holy Father regrets the, “definitive suppression of memorisation in catechesis.” He asks, “Should we not attempt to put this faculty back into use in an intelligent and even an original way in catechesis … We must be realists. The blossoms, if we may call them that, of faith and piety do not grow in the desert places of a memory-less catechesis” (n.55).

What is your feedback on these 6 themes?  Do you find each of these to continue to be vital for catechesis in the Third Millennium?

Advertisements