If you’re still hanging in there, let’s finish up and summarize initiatory catechesis:
67. Catechesis acquires certain characteristics in virtue of being an “essential moment” in the process of evangelization, in the service of Christian initiation. (cf. Catechesi Tradendae 21) It is:
– a comprehensive and systematic formation in the faith. The Synod of 1977 underscored the need for a “comprehensive and structured”* catechesis, since catechesis is principally distinguished from other forms of presenting the word of God by its comprehensive and vital deepening of the mystery of Christ;
Pope John Paul’s testimony here: *Two things need to be underlined in this synodal contribution taken from Catechesi Tradendae: the preoccupation to take into account a pastoral problem (“I insist on the necessity of an organic and systematic Christian education because for diverse reasons there has been a tendency to minimize its importance”), and the fact of considering the organic nature of catechesis as the principal characteristic connoting it.
One of the more common forms of this is Lectionary-based catechesis. Of interest to liturgical folks, this effort presumes the whole of Christian/Catholic teaching can be found in the liturgy. Or at least, be based on the readings if not the prayers of the liturgy. The only caution I offer on this point is that the pastoral need of the newcomers somewhat surpasses the drive to suggest each Sunday and feast has a unique teaching to offer, or that the entire liturgical cycle offers a complete catechetical repertoire.
Formation includes apprenticeship, that is, the application of what is learned into one’s life:
– this comprehensive formation includes more than instruction: it is an apprenticeship of the entire Christian life, it is a “complete Christian initiation”, (Catechesi Tradendae 21) which promotes an authentic following of Christ, focused on his Person; it implies education in knowledge of the faith and in the life of faith, in such a manner that the entire person, at his deepest levels, feels enriched by the word of God; it helps the disciple of Christ to transform the old man in order to assume his baptismal responsibilities and to profess the faith from the “heart”; (Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 20; St Augustine, De catechizandis rudibus, I, chap. 4, n. 8; CCL 46, 128-129.)
– a basic and essential formation, (cf. Catechesi Tradendae 21b) centred on what constitutes the nucleus of Christian experience, the most fundamental certainties of the faith and the most essential evangelical values; it lays the foundation of the spiritual edifice of the Christian, nurtures the roots of his faith life and enables him to receive more solid nourishment in the ordinary life of the Christian community.
This third aspect is important. There is a nucleus of Christian experience. This is the main portion of initiatory catechesis. After a person is initiated into the faith, it continues to be built upon, ideally, in context of the “ordinary life” of the faith community. This presumes a parish has a vibrant ordinary life.
GDC 68 sums up sections 63 through 67:
68. In summary, initiatory catechesis, being comprehensive and systematic, cannot be reduced to the circumstantial or the occasional. (cf. Catechesi Tradendae 21c) As it is formation for the Christian life it comprises but surpasses mere instruction. (Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 33 and Catechism 1231; Ad Gentes 14.) Being essential, it looks to what is “common” for the Christian, without entering into disputed questions nor transforming itself into a form of theological investigation. Finally, being initiatory, it incorporates into the community, which lives, celebrates and bears witness to the faith. It fulfils, at once, initiatory, educational and instructional functions. (Cf. General Catechetical Directory (1971) 31) This inherent richness in the Catechumenate of non-baptized adults should serve to inspire other forms of catechesis.
What do you think of the prescription of avoiding disputed questions? Sensible? Red flag?