GDC 87a: Six Observations, Part 1

It’s always interesting when a Roman Congregation gets off the legislative and prescriptive tack and makes some frank assessments. I always wonder who came up with these ideas: an individual or the whole committee?

In a section titled, “Observations on the totality of these tasks,” we get six observations that are a good measuring stick for dioceses and parishes, as well as the particular ministries of every pastor and faith formation director. How do we measure up?

87. The tasks of catechesis, consequently, constitute a totality, rich and varied in aspect. On this point it is opportune to make some observations.

– “All of these tasks are necessary. As the vitality of the human body depends on the proper function of all of its organs, so also the maturation of the Christian life requires that it be cultivated in all its dimensions: knowledge of the faith, liturgical life, moral formation, prayer, belonging to community, missionary spirit. When catechesis omits one of these elements, the Christian faith does not attain full development.

Do you remember these six tasks? Knowledge of faith, liturgical formation, moral formation, spiritual formation, formation in community life, the mission apostolate. If you were being classroom-tested on this material, you could be sure this would be on the exam. As it is, every pastor and faith formation director should be aware of how their parish manages each of these six. For you and your parish, which is the most exemplary? Which the weak point? And how would you propose to strengthen what is weak?

– Each task realizes, in its own way, the object of catechesis. Moral formation, for example, is essentially christological and trinitarian. It is deeply ecclesial, while also open to social concerns. The same is true of liturgical formation. While essentially religious and ecclesial, it also strongly demands commitment to the evangelization of the world.

– These tasks are interdependent and develop together. Each great catechetical theme—catechesis of God the Father, for example—has a cognitive dimension as well as moral implications. It is interiorized in prayer and appropriated in witness. One task echoes the other: knowledge of the faith prepares for mission; the sacramental life gives strength for moral transformation.

These two observations above are critical. It’s more than having six staff members, one dedicated to each, and hoping everybody crosses the finish line together. A faith community weak in any one of these tasks is crippled. What good does it do to have social awareness if the liturgy is poor? What good is moral formation if people don’t pray? And is there a strong awareness that communion with Jesus Christ is the end-result of any activity in these areas? Liturgy is not playacting or magicalism. Social Justice is not social work. Prayer doesn’t begin and end in rote exercises. Jesus must be clearly there.

That’s enough for today. We’ll hold off on the last three observations for tomorrow’s post. Comments?

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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.
This entry was posted in General Directory for Catechesis, post-conciliar catechetical documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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