GDC 185: Forms of Youth Catechesis

We’ve discussed earlier the comparison between a missionary approach to people and catechumenal formation. Being able to distinguish pastoral needs and apply the correct approach is key, depending on the need to complete Christian Initiation, or being in a situation where the very basic seeds of faith must be planted. The modern American parish is likely to have both situations.

185. Among the diverse forms of youth catechesis, provision should be made, in so far as circumstances permit, for the youth catechumenate during school years, catechesis for Christian initiation, catechesis on specific themes, as well as other kinds of occasional and informal meetings.

Generally youth catechesis should be proposed in new ways which are open to the sensibilities and problems of this age group. They should be of a theological, ethical, historical and social nature. In particular, due emphasis should be given to education in truth and liberty as understood by the Gospel, to the formation of conscience and to education for love. Emphasis should also be placed on vocational discernment, Christian involvement in society and on missionary responsibility in the world.* It must be emphasized, however, that frequently contemporary evangelization of young people must adopt a missionary dimension rather than a strictly catechumenal dimension. Indeed, the situation often demands that the apostolate amongst young people be an animation of a missionary or humanitarian nature, as a necessary first step to bringing to maturity those dispositions favourable to the strictly catechetical moment. Very often, in reality, it is useful to intensify pre-catechumenal activity within the general educational process. One of the difficulties to be addressed and resolved is the question of “language” (mentality, sensibility, tastes, style, vocabulary) between young people and the Church (catechesis, catechists). A necessary “adaptation of catechesis to young people” is urged, in order to translate into their terms “the message of Jesus with patience and wisdom and without betrayal”.(Catechesi Tradendae 40)

*Other important themes include: the relationship between faith and reason; the existence and meaning of God; the problem of evil; the Church; the objective moral order in relation to personal subjectivity; the encounter between man and woman; the social doctrine of the Church.

Commentary:

I don’t think there’s a single unimportant theme discussed above. Have you noted “education for love”? Many recent commentators have suggested that preparation for the sacrament of marriage must begin much earlier–before people have paired into bonds of commitment.

Notice the Church’s recognition that youth ministry or campus ministry is not always presented with a clear-cut situation for catechesis. Sometimes the “moment” must be prepared in ways that suggest young people are not fully prepared or ready to receive the adult package of faith.

The “objective moral order in relation to personal subjectivity.” That’s a mouthful, but a common theme these days, nonetheless.

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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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