Today we talk about the virtue of a catechism as a genre of written catechesis:
284. Among the aids available to catechesis, catechisms excel all others.
The note for this sentence is lengthy: The question of local catechisms has been dealt with in Part two, chap. II. Here we intend to present only some criteria for their elaboration. By the term “local catechisms” the present document refers to those catechisms which are proposed by particular Churches or by Episcopal Conferences.
Their importance derives from the fact that the message transmitted by them is recognized as authentic by the Pastors of the Church. If the Bishop presides over the general catechetical activity of a particular Church, it is also true that the publication of catechisms is a direct responsibility of the episcopal ministry. National, regional, or diocesan catechisms, drawn up in co-operation with catechetical workers, are ultimately the responsibility of the Bishops, who are catechists par excellence in the particular Churches.
In drawing up catechisms, the following two criteria must be carefully adhered to.
a) perfect harmony with the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “a sure and authentic reference… particularly for preparing local catechisms”; (Fidei Depositum 3c)
b) due consideration for the norms and criteria for the presentation of the Gospel message contained in the General Directory for Catechesis, which is also a “standard of reference” (Catechesi Tradendae 50) for catechesis.
285. The “prior approbation of the Apostolic See” (General Catechetical Directory 119, 134; canon law 775 § 2; Pastor Bonus 94) which is required for catechisms emanating from Episcopal Conferences—signifies that these are documents whereby the universal Church, in the differing socio-cultural contexts to which she is sent, proclaims and transmits the Gospel and “generates the particular Churches by manifesting herself in them”. (Communionis Notio 9) The approbation of a catechism is a recognition of the fact that it is a text of the universal Church for a specific culture and situation.
It took a while before the various catechisms began to appear after the CCC was published. Now we have YouCat, the compendium on social issues, and other books. What’s working from what you’ve read and seen?
It is clear that my superiors were unable or unwilling to understand what was going on in this diocese, leaving the clergy and especially the people of God at the mercy of petty slander.
Bishop Miccichè spoke of conspiracy “in and outside the Church,” but accepts early retirement “in a spirit of obedience.”
CNA brings up Bishop Bill Morris of Australia, too:
In May 2011, the Pope axed Bishop William Morris from his post in Australian Diocese of Toowoomba. The move followed years of fruitless negotiations aimed at correcting the bishop’s abuses of Church doctrine, governance and liturgy.
I heard it was more about talking about that stuff than actually ordaining women, married men, and celebrating a rite that’s actually in the church’s books. But no matter.
Administrative moves like this, even if Bishop of Trapani is guilty as sin, only underscore the utter lack of initiative taken against those who knowingly shielded sex predators. And got rewarded for it, in many cases. Is the red hat a sort of immunity pill?
Another NPM choice goes to bat against a piece of season music. Here’s your ballot:
I find it fascinating that the NPM pollsters didn’t think of seasonal songs. Or perhaps Christians just take Christmas and other music for granted. But I’m not surprised these peices are outpolling many songs that “make a difference.” Christmas songs make a difference, too. Let’s see how December 25th’s most-programmed song fares against a text that is either a choral piece or a plainsong.
24. If relics of the saints are to be placed beneath the altar, the following should be prepared:
a) In the place of assembly:
reliquary containing the relics, placed between flowers and lights. When the simple entrance is used, the reliquary may be placed in a suitable part of the sanctuary before the rite begins;
for the deacons who will carry the relics to be deposited: albs, red stoles, if the relics are those of a martyr, or white in other cases, and, if available, dalmatics. If the relics are carried by priests, then in place of dalmatics chasubles should be prepared.
The relics may also be carried by other ministers, vested in albs or other lawfully approved dress.
b) In the sanctuary: a small table on which the reliquary is placed during the first part of the dedication rite.
c) In the sacristy: a sealant or cement to close the cover of the aperture. In addition, a stonemason should be on hand to close the depository of the relics at the proper time.
Records of the dedication are needed, in triplicate:
25. The record of the dedication of the church should be drawn up in duplicate, signed by the bishop, the rector of the church, and representatives of the local community; one copy is to be kept in the diocesan archives, the other in the archives of the church. Where the depositing of relics takes place, a third copy of the record should be made, to be placed at the proper time in the reliquary.
In this record mention should be made of the day, month, and year of the church’s dedication, the name of the bishop who celebrated the rite, also the titular of the church and, where applicable, the names of the martyrs or saints whose relics have been deposited beneath the altar.
And don’t neglect the public record:
Moreover, in a suitable place in the church, an inscription should be placed stating the day, month, and year when the dedication took place, the titular of the church, and the name of the bishop who celebrated the rite.
In my experience, this last prescription is never completed. It should be quite simple to do:
Let’s talk about books. If this document had been prepared today, we might be talking about internet sites, too. Books are seen as supplements to the “live communication of the Christian message.” They do not replace the catechist.
283. Along with those instruments dedicated to the orientation and general planning of catechetical activity (analysis of the situation, plan of action, Catechetical Directory), there are other instruments of more immediate use in catechetical activity. In the first place, mention must be made of textbooks, (321) which are placed directly in the hands of catechumens and those being catechized. Also helpful are the various catechetical Guides for both catechists and, in the case of the catechesis of children, for parents. (322) Audio-visual aids too are important in catechesis and appropriate discernment should be exercised in their use. (Cf. Part Three, chap. 2, Social communication; cf. General Catechetical Directory 122) The basic criterion for these work aids should be that of twofold fidelity to God and to (people), a fundamental principle for the whole Church. This implies an ability to marry perfect doctrinal fidelity with a profound adaptation to (human) needs, taking into consideration the psychology of age and the socio-cultural context in which (people) live.
(321) With regard to this ensemble of catechetical books Catechesi Tradendae notes: “one of the major features of the renewal of catechetics today is the rewriting and multiplication of catechetical books taking place in many parts of the Church. Numerous very successful works have been produced and are a real treasure in this service of catechetical instruction” (Catechesi Tradendae 49).
The General Catechetical Directory 120 defines textbooks in the following way: “textbooks are aids offered to the Christian community that is engaged in catechesis. No text can take the place of a live communication of the Christian message; nevertheless, the texts do have great value in that they make it possible to present a fuller exposition of the witnesses of Christian tradition and of principles that foster catechetical activity”.
(322) With regard to catechetical manuals General Catechetical Directory 121 indicates what they should contain: “an explanation of the message of Salvation (constant reference must be made to the sources and a clear distinction must be kept between those things which pertain to the faith and to the doctrine that must be held, and those things which are mere opinions of theologians); psychological and pedagogical advice; suggestions about methods”.
In short, catechetical aids must:
– be “linked with the real life of the generation to which they are addressed, showing close acquaintance with its anxieties and questionings, struggles and hopes”; (Catechesi Tradendae 49b)
– try “to speak meaningfully to this generation”; (Catechesi Tradendae 49b)
– “really aim to give to those who use them a better knowledge of the mysteries of Christ, aimed at true conversion and a life more in conformity with God’s will”. (Catechesi Tradendae 49b)
Catechesi Tradendae was Pope John Paul II’s first major catechetical document. Clearly, it was a personal priority, and given the witness of his life, especially connecting with students, it’s not a surprise his emphasis would be on an effective and personal touch.
Note at the end that knowledge itself is a means to an end. The desired result of a well-formed believer is “true conversion” and a life’s example that exemplifies “conformity with God’s will.” Gathering knowledge, by itself, is not the mark of an accomplished believer.
about Todd Flowerday
A Roman Catholic lay person, married (since 1996), with one adopted child (since 2001). I serve in worship and spiritual life in a midwestern university parish.
Neil has been a blogging collaborator for the past several years on Catholic Sensibility. He brings his unique experiences from theology, spirituality, and the ecumenical sphere. Pay special attention to each one of his posts.