GDC 108: Four Points of History

Under the notion of history, we have Biblical catechesis, doctrinal catechesis, and sacramental mystagogy. Perhaps you can help me shed some light on the last point, which seems to suggest the discernment of God’s revelation in the experiences of life.

108. The historical character of the Christian message requires that catechesis attend to the following points:

– presentation of salvation history by means of Biblical catechesis so as to make known the “deeds and the words” with which God has revealed himself to man: the great stages of the Old Testament by which he prepared the journey of the Gospel; (359) the life of Jesus, Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary who by his actions and teaching brought Revelation to completion; (Cf. Dei Verbum 4) the history of the Church which transmits Revelation: this history, read within the perspective of faith, is a fundamental part of the content of catechesis;

– in explaining the Creed and the content of Christian morality by means of doctrinal catechesis, the Gospel message should illuminate the ‘today’ of the history of salvation; indeed, “…in this way the ministry of the Word not only recalls the revelation of God’s wonders which was made in time…but at the same time, in the light of this revelation, interprets human life in our age, the signs of the times, and the things of this world, for the plan of God works in these for the salvation of men”; (General Catechetical Directory 11)

– it should situate the sacraments within the history of salvation by means of a mystagogy which “…re-lives the great events of salvation history in the ‘today’ of her liturgy”; (Catechism 1095. Cf. Catechism 1075; 1116; 129-130 and 1093-1094) reference to the historico-salvific ‘today’ is essential to such catechesis, and thus helps catechumens and those to be catechized “to open themselves to this ‘spiritual’ understanding of the economy of Salvation…”; (363)

– the “deeds and words” of Revelation point to the “mystery contained in them”; (Dei Verbum 2) catechesis helps to make the passage from sign to mystery; it leads to the discovery of the mystery of the Son of God behind his humanity; behind the history of the Church, it uncovers the mystery of her being the “sacrament of salvation;” behind the “signs of the times”, it encounters the traces of God’s presence and plan: catechesis, thus, shall exhibit that knowledge which is typical of faith, which “is knowledge through signs”. (General Catechetical Directory (1971) 72; cf. Catechism 39-43)

(359) Catechism 54-64. At this point the catechism deals with the most important phases of revelation and in them the idea of Covenant is a key concept. These texts are a fundamental reference for biblical catechesis. Cf. Catechism 1081 and 1093.

(363) Catechism 1095. Catechism 1075 indicates the inductive nature of this “mystagogical catechesis” since it proceeds “from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the ‘sacraments’ to the ‘mysteries'”.

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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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