We’re getting to the close of the GDC’s chapter on catechisms. Be patient.
134. Local Churches, in fulfilling the task of adapting, contextualizing and inculturating the Gospel message by means of catechisms, for different ages, situations and cultures must exercise a mature creativity. From the depositum fidei entrusted to the Church, local Churches select, structure and express, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, their inner Master, all those elements which transmit the Gospel in its complete authenticity in a given situation.
For this difficult task, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “point of reference” to guarantee the unity of the faith. This present General Catechetical Directory, for its part, offers the basic criteria which govern the presentation of the Christian message.
135. In elaborating local catechisms it will be useful to remember the following points:
– it is a question, above all, of elaborating genuine catechisms, adapted and inculturated: in this sense, a distinction must be drawn between a catechism which adapts the Christian message to different ages, situations and cultures, and one which is a mere summary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and serves as an introduction to its study. These are two different types. (465)
(465) On the distinction between local catechisms and syntheses of the Catechism of the Catholic Church see “Orientamenti sulle sintesi del Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica”, of the Congregation for the Clergy and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Among other things it notes: “syntheses of the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be erroneously understood to be substitutes for local catechisms even to the extent of discouraging these latter. However, they lack those adaptations to local situations particular to those who are catechized which is required of catechesis”.
This note repeats what we’ve read a few times: the distinctions between a local catechism, a synthesis, and the actual act of catechesis by those who are serving the catechized. In other words, no single book, no single approach, is adequate to the task.
– Local catechisms may be diocesan, regional or national in character. (Cf. canon law 775 §§ 1-2)
– with regard to the structuring of contents, different Episcopates publish catechisms of various structures and configurations; as has been said, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is proposed as a point of doctrinal reference, but, does not impose on the entire Church a determined structure on other catechisms: there are catechisms with a trinitarian structure; others are planned according to the stages of salvation; others again are organized along a biblical or theological theme (Covenant, Kingdom of God, etc.); some are structured around an aspect of the faith, while others again follow the liturgical year;
A liturgical catechism is a curiosity to me. I’m not aware of any such publication. (Nor would I really wish to write one.)
– with regard to the manner of expressing the Gospel message, the creativity of a catechism will have a bearing on its formulation and content, (The question of language both in local catechisms and in catechetical activity is of supreme importance. Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 59) evidently a catechism must be faithful to the deposit of faith in its method of expressing the doctrinal substance of the Christian message:”The individual churches—which are involved not only with men but also with their aspirations, their wealth and their poverty, with their manner of praying and living and their outlook on the world—must make their own the substance of the evangelical message. Without any sacrifice of the essential truths they must transpose this message into an idiom which will be understood by the people they serve and those who proclaim it”; (468)
(468) Evangelii Nuntiandi 63. In the delicate task of assimilation and translation mentioned in this text it is most important to bear in mind the observation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Congregation for the Clergy “Orientamenti sulle sintesi del Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica”, 3: “The preparation of local catechisms, which have the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an authoritative and secure reference text (Fidei Depositum 4), remains an important objective for the various Episcopates. However, the foreseeable difficulties which can arise in such an undertaking can only be overcome by an adequate assimilation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Such assimilation even when it is accomplished over a long period of time prepares the theological, catechetical and linguistic ground for a work that really inculturates the contents of the Catechism”.
The principle to be followed in this delicate task is indicated by the Second Vatican Council: “to seek out more efficient ways—provided the meaning and understanding of them is safeguarded—of presenting their teaching to modern man: for the deposit of faith is one thing, the manner of expressing it is quite another”. (Gaudium et Spes 62b)
So what’s all this about? It’s a lot of churchy language just to say that the task of catechesis is driven by two big things: the integrity of the Gospel message, and needs of the catechized to absorb that message. Couldn’t they just have said that? The Catechism and even this directory are subject to these two principles. The churchy language is the formal way of saying, “Do whatever it takes to transmit the message accurately and effectively.”
As a new week dawns, I feel more comfortable standing apart from the produce-throwing crowd. At dotCommonweal, here and here, two commentators swim upstream against the HHS current.
From Eric Bugyis:
I clearly established that none of the possible objections to the HHS mandate and its definition of religious exemption have anything to do with “religion,” …
And Eduardo Peñalver:
I actually think that liberal Catholics, like many liberals more generally, tend to favor broader exemptions of deeply held conscientious objection, without so much regard for the foundations of the moral beliefs in question. Although liberal Catholics do not agree with the Church’s position on contraception, they accept it as sincerely held and therefore, because they generally look favorably on broad conscientious exemptions, they would extend the same courtesy to their own hierarchy (and perhaps to private Catholic employers as well), even in this borderline case of a mandate to either provide indirect aid to the practice or pay a fine.
Neither of these snippets do justice to the lengthy arguments they present. But considering that first bit from Mr Bugyis, I had to go scrambling to read my own bishop’s letter. And he’s right. It’s all about politics. Nothing about religion. Just the freedom of it.
I wonder if there were any bishops that declined to write such a letter. Probably not as many as the parishes that were spared a political message at liturgy.
I don’t even know that the bishops have completely thought through this civic position. They can drop health coverage, to be sure. Pay the fine, or whatever. (But I happen to think they will risk embittered employees, a far more expensive proposition.) But they still have to pay us. And if we want health insurance, we have to buy into some plan, somewhere. And if we buy into a plan (either by choice, or by no choice) that includes these “non-religious non-negotiables,” then the bishops are, in effect, sanctioning abortion, contraception, and elective sterilization, are they not? Just in a rather concealed way.
And speaking of concealment, I wonder who was the ghostwriter behind the letters read in churches and disseminated in bulletins this past weekend. Huge chunks of Bishop DiMarzio’s letter read just like my bishop’s. Good thing these letters weren’t living, breathing human beings. Such cloning would be immoral.
And picking up on a theme in that clone letter, there’s a reference to “almost all employers” and “almost all health insurers” and “almost all individuals.” Don’t the bishops mean “many?”
Three sections for a quick discussion on three gestures to be made with the body during Mass:
Veneration of the Altar and the Book of the Gospels
273. According to traditional practice, the veneration of the altar and of the Book of the Gospels is done by means of a kiss. However, where a sign of this kind is not in harmony with the traditions or the culture of some region, it is for the Conference of Bishops to establish some other sign in its place, with the consent of the Apostolic See.
Bishops may determine some other sign, but the sign will need curial approval.
One of the more important distinctions for altar servers, not to mention other liturgical ministers:
Genuflections and Bows
274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.
During Mass, three genuflections are made by the Priest Celebrant: namely, after the elevation of the host, after the elevation of the chalice, and before Communion. Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place (cf. nos. 210-251).
If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is situated in the sanctuary, the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.
Otherwise, all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.
Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.
This last point is important. We’ve already touched on the notion of the Book of the Gospels not “bowing” to the altar. I’ve trained servers to be careful about introducing the slightly comical sight of candles bowing, dripping, staining …
And as for bows, there are two distinct forms:
275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bow: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.
a) A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.
b) A bow of the body, that is to say, a profound bow, is made to the altar; during the prayers Munda cor meum (Cleanse my heart) and In spiritu humilitatis (With humble spirit); in the Creed at the words et incarnatus est (and by the Holy Spirit . . . and became man); in the Roman Canon at the Supplices te rogamus (In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God). The same kind of bow is made by the Deacon when he asks for a blessing before the proclamation of the Gospel. In addition, the Priest bows slightly as he pronounces the words of the Lord at the Consecration.
Are the particulars really important? I think it is important to cultivate a bodily awareness of reverence. Outside of the particulars, I’d say that excessive gestures tend to mark the person acting rather than the person honored. For instance, a priest who bows deeply over the altar during the institution narrative. Likewise a total lack of bodily gesture–the same result. Fly with the flock, and the individual bird goes unnoticed–only the destination.