GDC 118: “Methodological principle for the presentation of the message”

We wrap up Chapter I (GDC 94-118) of Part Two (92-136) today. The title quoted above references part III, chapter 2 of the GDC (148-162), where methodology will be unwrapped in more detail.

118. The norms and criteria indicated in this chapter and those concerning the “exposition of the content of catechesis, must be applied in the various forms of catechesis, that is to say, in biblical and liturgical catechesis, in doctrinal summaries, in the interpretation of the conditions of human existence and so on.” (General Catechetical Directory 46)

From these, however, it is not possible to deduce the order that should be observed in the exposition of catechetical content. Indeed, “it can happen that in the present situation of catechesis reasons of method or pedagogy may suggest that the communication of the riches of the content of catechesis should be organized in one way rather than another”. (Catechesi Tradendae 31) It is possible to begin with God so as to arrive at Christ, and vice versa. Equally, it is possible to start with (humankind) and come to God, and conversely. The selection of a particular order for presenting the message is conditioned by circumstances, and by the faith level of those to be catechized. It will always be necessary to elaborate with care that pedagogical method which is most appropriate to the circumstances of an ecclesial community or of those to whom catechesis is specifically addressed. Hence derives the need to investigate correctly in order to find those means which best respond to different situations.

It is a matter for Bishops to draw up more particular norms for this and to apply them by means of Catechetical Directories and catechisms which cater for different ages and cultural conditions, as well as in other ways deemed more appropriate. (Canon law 775, §§ 1-3)

As we make this long journey through the GDC, 291 numbered sections, it will be important to recall the pragmatic wisdom of this section: there is no one way to conduct catechesis. More important than the “how” of the message is the “who” of the object of catechesis. Circumstances dictate “how” the Gospel is to be presented. Effective catechists will have to be flexible, as they maintain fidelity to the core content derived from Jesus Christ.

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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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