GDC 117: Five Human Aspects of Catechesis

The five human aspects of formation are evangelical, biblical, credal, moral, and liturgical:

117. For this reason, catechesis is eminently christological in presenting the Christian message and should therefore “be concerned with making (people) attentive to their more significant experiences, both personal and social; it also has the duty of placing under the light of the Gospel, the questions which arise from those experiences so that there may be stimulated within (people) a right desire to transform their ways of life”. (General Catechetical Directory 74; cf. Catechesi Tradendae 29) In this sense:

– in first evangelization, proper to the pre-catechumenate or to pre-catechesis, the proclamation of the Gospel shall always be done in close connection with human nature and its aspirations, and will show how the Gospel fully satisfies the human heart; (Cf. Ad Gentes 8a)

– in biblical catechesis, it shall help to interpret present-day human life in the light of the experiences of the people of Israel, of Jesus Christ and the ecclesial community, in which the Spirit of the Risen Jesus continually lives and works;

– in explaining the Creed, catechesis shall show how the great themes of the faith (creation, original sin, Incarnation, Easter, Pentecost, eschatology) are always sources of life and light for the human being;

– moral catechesis, in presenting what makes life worthy of the Gospel (Cf. Phil 1:27) and in promoting the Beatitudes as the spirit that must permeate the Decalogue, shall root them in the human virtues present in the heart of (people); (Cf. Catechism 1697)

– liturgical catechesis shall make constant reference to the great human experiences represented by the signs and symbols of liturgical actions originating in Jewish and Christian culture. (Cf. Catechism 1145-1152 concerning the importance of signs and symbols in liturgical action)


Interesting that the human heart and its aspirations should be more prominent than an intellectual justification for the gospel so early in a phase of inquiry. And by this I would interpret it as more than just “feelings,” but something far deeper: the appeal of Christ to the deepest parts of the human being.

How many believers see aspects of the Bible in their daily life? Do we look for the themes, major and minor, of the Scriptures? Essentials like redemption, the presence of God, and agency of God? Or difficult and perhaps timely questions such as: why do the just suffer and the wicked flourish?

There are a lot of possible connections to make, but I’ll leave off with a liturgical thought: does the hierarchy-centered pre-conciliar liturgy and its mindset really communicate the fullest range of human experiences in salvation history?

About catholicsensibility

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