GDC 87b: Three More Observations

Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday with the final three observations on the fundamental tasks of catechesis:

– To fulfil its tasks, catechesis avails of two principal means: transmission of the Gospel message and experience of the Christian life. (Canon Law 773 and 778 § 2) Liturgical formation, for example, must explain what the Christian liturgy is, and what the sacraments are. It must also however, offer an experience of the different kinds of celebration and it must make symbols, gestures, etc. known and loved. Moral formation not only transmits the content of Christian morality, but also cultivates active evangelical attitudes and Christian values.

What does this mean? Simply that preaching the message isn’t enough. The Christian life is an “experience,” not just information absorption. In the example of liturgy, aspects must not only be known, but loved. An interior attachment cultivated. And to be sure, this isn’s about loving “things,” but of seeing Christ in these aspects, and loving Christ from this revelation to us. It’s not just about “content.” Formation has to include “attitudes” and “values.”

As for the last two observations, we should keep in mind ther process of catechesis is guided by God. It is a matter of grace, not human skill alone:

– The different dimensions of faith are objects of formation, as much of being given as received. Knowledge of the faith, liturgical life, the following of Christ are all a gift of the Spirit which are received in prayer, and similarly a duty of spiritual and moral study and witness. Neither aspect may be neglected. (Cf. General Catechetical Directory (1971) 22 and 23)

And lastly, the overall catechetical ministry in the Church, in a parish or faith community, in a minister, as well as in the person who receives this formation–it must be holistic. It must attend to all aspects of our lives:

– Every dimension of the faith, like the faith itself as a whole, must be rooted in human experience and not remain a mere adjunct to the human person. Knowledge of the faith is significant. It gives light to the whole of existence and dialogues with culture. In the liturgy, all personal life becomes a spiritual oblation. The morality of the Gospel assumes and elevates human values. Prayer is open to all personal and social problems. (Cf. General Catechetical Directory (1971) 26)

As the 1971 Directory indicates, “it is very important that catechesis retain the richness of these various aspects in such a way that one aspect is not separated from the rest to the detriment of the others”. (General Catechetical Directory (1971) 31b)

The GCD is right. As long as Catholicism adheres to all these aspects, the experience of faith formation will be rich indeed. Has it been so in your community? I hope so.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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