GDC 86b: Missionary Initiation

Let’s finish up with GDC 86 as it takes a deeper look at the “missionary dimension” of catechesis. We’ve already read that the Church views part of its catechetical mission to be an infusion of an evangelical spirit within all believers, and especially young people who are the product of Catholic education as children. (See GDC 46 here, and especially section 74 here, among others.)

This passage that follows is really one of the key teachings in this whole document. Note that yet again the GDC refers to Catholics as “disciples,” that the lay apostolate in the world is emphasized, that this apostolate is rooted in Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. Piling on, note the importance given to the missionary apostolate: its mention along with Holy Orders and religious life. And finally, the notion that the example Christ gives in the Gospels is the model we are to follow. Don’t take my word for it; read it:

a) Catechesis is also open to the missionary dimension. (Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 24b and General Catechetical Directory (1971) 28) This seeks to equip the disciples of Jesus to be present as Christians in society through their professional, cultural and social lives. It also prepares them to lend their cooperation to the different ecclesial services, according to their proper vocation. This task of evangelization originates, for the lay faithful, in the sacraments of Christian initiation and in the secular character of their vocation. (Cf. Lumen Gentium 31b and Christifedeles Laici 15; Catechism 898-900) It is also important that every means should be used to encourage vocations to the Priesthood, and to the different forms of consecration to God in religious and apostolic life and to awaken special missionary vocations. The evangelical attitudes which Jesus taught his disciples when he sent them on mission are precisely those which catechesis must nourish: to seek out the lost sheep, proclaim and heal at the same time, to be poor, without money or knapsack; to know how to accept rejection and persecution; to place one’s trust in the Father and in the support of the Holy Spirit; to expect no other reward than the joy of working for the Kingdom. (Cf. Mt 10:5-42 and Lk 10:1-20)

b) In educating for this missionary sense, catechesis is also necessary for interreligious dialogue, if it renders the faithful capable of meaningful communication with men and women of other religions. (Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 53 and Redemptoris Missio 55-57) Catechesis shows that the link between the Church and non-Christian religions is, in the first place, the common origin and end of the human race, as well as the “many seeds of the word which God has sown in these religions”. Catechesis too helps to reconcile and, at the same time, to distinguish between “the proclamation of Christ” and “inter-religious dialogue”. These two elements, while closely connected, must not be confused or identified.* Indeed, “dialogue does not dispense from evangelization”.(Redemptoris Missio 55a)

* Cf. Redemptoris Missio 55b; Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for inter-religious dialogue, “Dialogue and Proclamation” (19 may 1991), nn. 14-54; AAS 84 (1992), pp. 419-432. CCC 839-845; Part IV, chap. 4 of this Directory refers to those to whom catechesis is addressed and returns to the topic Catechesis in the context of other religions.

This second paragraph gives a clear goal of dialogue: meaningful communication. Do our words with non-believers have meaning? That’s what we should be asking ourselves. You can reference John Paul’s encyclical here. Definitely worth reading to get the missionary activity of the Church in context with areas outside of catechesis. If you feel inclined to do so, I also suggest the Vatican II document Ad Gentes to set the tone for the past half-century.

Surely there must be a comment or two out there about these important ideas.

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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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