GDC 105-106: “The ecclesial nature of the Gospel message”

The Gospel message is “of the Church.” One would expect the Church to preach this, as it desires to gather believers under its roof.

105. The ecclesial nature of catechesis confers on the transmitted Gospel message an inherent ecclesial character. Catechesis originates in the Church’s confession of faith and leads to the profession of faith of the catechumen and those to be catechized. The first official word of the Church addressed to those about to be baptized, having called them by name, is: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The candidates’ reply is “Faith”. (RCIA 75; cf. Catechism 1253) The catechumen who has discovered the Gospel and desires to know it better, realizes that it lives in the hearts of believers. Catechesis is nothing other than the process of transmitting the Gospel, as the Christian community has received it, understands it, celebrates it, lives it and communicates it in many ways.

This is a great ideal, and few of the Church’s rites are more moving, vital, or profound as the Rite of Acceptance where this question is asked point-blank of the inquirers. The question for the rest of us watching and receiving this testimony: do we live it? Do we turn this audacious concept into the truth?

An original paragraph (note no notes):

Hence, when catechesis transmits the mystery of Christ, the faith of the whole people of God echoes in its message throughout the course of history: the faith received by the Apostles from Christ himself and under the action of the Holy Spirit; that of the martyrs who have borne witness to it and still bear witness to it by their blood; that of the saints who have lived it and live it profoundly; that of the Fathers and doctors of the Church who have taught it brilliantly; that of the missionaries who proclaim it incessantly; that of theologians who help to understand it better; that of pastors who conserve it with zeal and love and who interpret it authentically. In truth, there is present in catechesis the faith of all those who believe and allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Apostles, martyrs, saints, doctors, missionaries, theologians, and pastors: a fine hierarchy of formative influences. These people form the community. The Church claims the community “transmits” the faith of these fathers and mothers:

106. This faith, transmitted by the ecclesial community, is one. Although the disciples of Jesus Christ form a community dispersed throughout the whole world, and even though catechesis transmits the faith in many different cultural idioms, the Gospel which is handed on is one. The confession of faith is the same. There is only one Baptism: “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism one God and Father of us all” (Eph 4,5). Catechesis, in the Church, therefore, is that service which introduces catechumens and those to be catechized to the unity of the profession of faith. (Cf. Catechism 172-175 where, inspired by St Irenaeus of Lyon there is an analysis of all the riches contained in the reality of one faith.) By its very nature, it nourishes the bond of unity (354) and brings about an awareness of belonging to a great community which cannot be limited by space or time: “From Abel the just to the last of the chosen ones to the end of the earth, to the close of the age. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 61, which takes up St Gregory the Great and the Didaché)

(354) Catechism 815: “…the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion: profession of one faith received from the apostles; common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments; apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God’s family”.

A great community which cannot be limited by space or time: I love the sound of that. If only we could live it more resolutely, gently, and with awareness and trust.

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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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