GDC 184: Three General Directions for Youth Catechesis

This section and the next give a very brief overview of what youth catechesis looks like.

Characteristics of catechesis for young people (General Catechetical Directory 84-89; Catechesi Tradendae 38-40)

184. Given the extent of this task, the Catechetical Directories of particular Churches and national and regional Episcopal Conferences must, taking into account different contexts, determine more specifically suitable measures for these areas. Some general directions, however, may be indicated.

– The diversity of the religious situation should be kept in mind: there are young people who are not even baptized, others have not completed Christian initiation, others are in grave crises of faith, others are moving towards making a decision with regard to faith, others have already made such a decision and call for assistance.

One size does not fit all. In fact, the Church seems less concerned with those who are solidly Catholic (true believers of whatever sort) and more with those who are finding their young years (ages ten to later twenties) more a time of crisis than of religious consolidation.

– It should also be remembered that the most successful catechesis is that which is given in the context of the wider pastoral care of young people, especially when it addresses the problems affecting their lives. Hence, catechesis should be integrated with certain procedures, such as analysis of situations, attention to human sciences and education, the co-operation of the laity and of young people themselves.

In addition to psychological and sociological concerns, I would have to suggest that the other main aspects of religion, namely liturgy and the apostolate in the world, should be primary considerations. Catechesis, or better, formation in the faith, is about more than offering knowledge and seeing it absorbed. We are talking an integration of mind, body, and soul. Of action and contemplation. Of being as open as humanly possible to the grace of God.

– Well organized group action, membership of valid youth associations (General Catechetical Directory 87) and personal accompaniment of young people, which should also include spiritual direction as an important element, are useful approaches for effective catechesis.

Personal accompaniment = just being with people. Good to see the mention of spiritual direction. Without excluding young people who are troubled in the faith, I think spiritual direction is essential for any serious believer. Getting young people into the habit of spiritual direction, and encouraging it–this would set a tone for their place as full adult members of a renewed community.

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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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