A short section for our weekend study:
63. The Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae places catechesis firmly within the Church’s mission and notes that evangelization is a rich, complex and dynamic reality which comprises essential but different “moments”. “Catechesis”, it adds, “is one of these moments—a very remarkable one—in the whole process of evangelization”. (Catechesi Tradendae 18, cf. 20c) This is to say that there are activities which “prepare” (Catechesi Tradendae 18) for catechesis and activities which “derive” from it (Catechesi Tradendae 18) The “moment” of catechesis is that which corresponds to the period in which conversion to Jesus Christ is formalized, and provides a basis for first adhering to him. Converts, by means of “a period of formation, an apprenticeship in the whole Christian life”, (Ad Gentes 14) are initiated into the mystery of salvation and an evangelical style of life. This means “initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life”. (Catechesi Tradendae 18)
John Paul II’s 1979 document is worth a look, if not a read. The GDC also picks up on an important theme of Ad Gentes and the RCIA, namely that converts to Christ are less school, and more given an apprenticeship experience in what is called a “style” of life. Catechesis, as many Catholics might describe it, is the gathering and retention of knowledge. But GDC 63 challenges a deeper look. We are initiated into a mystery. And also not just any style of life, but one with an outlook and practice of being evangelical, or having the quality of proclaiming the Good News.