GDC 80-81: The Object of Catechesis


These two sections are titled, “The object of catechesis: communion with Jesus Christ.” As we sail through a document like this, the density of the topic can sometimes obscure what the real point of it all should be. It goes beyond the cliché, “close, personal relationship.” But it does underscore the whole point of Christianity.

80. “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ”.* All evangelizing activity is understood as promoting communion with Jesus Christ. Starting with the “initial” (Ad Gentes 13b) conversion of a person to the Lord, moved by the Holy Spirit through the primary proclamation of the Gospel, catechesis seeks to solidify and mature this first adherence. It proposes to help those who have just converted “to know better this Jesus to whom he has entrusted himself: to know his ‘mystery’, the kingdom of God proclaimed by him, the requirements and comments contained in his Gospel message, and the paths that he has laid down for anyone who wishes to follow him”. (Catechesi Tradendae 20c) Baptism, the sacrament by which “we are configured to Christ”, (Lumen Gentium 7b) sustains this work of catechesis with the help of its grace.

*Catechesi Tradendae 5; cf. Catechism 426; Ad Gentes 14a. In relation to this christological end of catechesis see Part I, chap. I and Part II, chap. I. “Jesus Christ mediator and fullness of Revelation” and that which is said in II part, chapter 1 “Christianity of the evangelical mission”.

81. Communion with Jesus Christ, by its own dynamic, leads the disciple to unite (herself or) himself with everything with which Jesus Christ himself was profoundly united: with God his Father, who sent him into the world, and with the Holy Spirit, who impelled his mission; with the Church, his body, for which he gave himself up, with (hu)mankind and with his (sisters and) brothers whose lot he wished to share.

This communion goes far deeper than “close and personal,” than the friendship or sibling relationship suggested by the cliché. The object of catechesis is not only to produce adopted sisters and brothers, but disciples. And more, disciples are people who model Christ in their lives, and who seek to imitate him. The imitation goes even deeper than children wanting to imitate a hero, mentor, or even a parent. Each Christian disciple finds way in which she or he can experience the pilgrimage of Jesus Christ. Each such journey will be unique and each will give the person new and unique ways to address the challenges of virtue, spiritual gifts, service, temptation, sin, recovery, and ultimately a more intimate union with Christ.

At root, catechesis is not learning about Christ, but living to be one with him.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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