GDC 145-147: Some Topics in Pedagogy

Let’s finish up Chapter I of Part Three with some concluding thoughts on pedagogy.

Fidelity to God and to the person (Cf. 1977 Synod of Bishops, Message to the People of God 7; Catechesi Tradendae 55; General Catechetical Directory 4)

145. Jesus Christ is the living and perfect relationship of God with (humankind) and of (humankind) with God. From him the pedagogy of the faith receives “a law which is fundamental for the whole of the Church’s life”, and therefore for catechesis: “the law of fidelity to God and of fidelity to (humankind) in a single, loving attitude”. (Catechesi Tradendae 55)

Genuine catechesis therefore is that catechesis which helps to perceive the action of God throughout the formative journey. It encourages a climate of listening, of thanksgiving and of prayer. (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 10 and 22) It looks to the free response of persons and it promotes active participation among those to be catechized.

The relationship between God and the believer is one of fidelity. Perfect on one end. As best as we can muster on the other. How does catechesis help this? To discern God’s faithful actions, a human being must listen. How does a catechist cultivate this? And then in response, once again we have that phrase “active participation,” though in this context it’s not just about liturgy.

The “condescension” of God, (Dei Verbum 13; Catechism 684) a school for the person

146. God, wishing to speak to (people) as friends, (Cf. Dei Verbum 2) manifests in a special way his pedagogy by adapting what he has to say by solicitous providence for our earthly condition. (Cf. Dei Verbum 13) This implies for catechesis the never-ending task of finding a language capable of communicating the word of God and the creed of the Church, which is its development, in the various circumstances of those who hear it. (Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 63; Catechesi Tradendae 59) At the same time, it maintains the certainty that, by the grace of God, this can be done and that the Holy Spirit will give us the joy of doing it. Therefore pedagogical instructions adequate for catechesis are those which permit the communication of the whole word of God in the concrete existence of people. (Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 31)

When we think about it, the consideration of language and communication echoes God’s incarnation. Being able to adapt, to speak in a language that can be heard, is an exercise in the imitation of Christ.

Evangelize by educating and educate by evangelizing (Cf. Gravissimum Educationis 1-4; Catechesi Tradendae 58)

147. Being inspired by the pedagogy of faith, catechesis presents its service as a designated educative journey in that, on the one hand it assists (people) to open (themselves) to the religious dimension of life, while on the other, it proposes the Gospel to (them). It does so in such a manner as to penetrate and transform the processes of intelligence, conscience, liberty and action making of existence a gift after the example of Jesus Christ. Thus the catechist knows and avails of the contribution of the sciences of education, understood always in a Christian sense.

This ties in closely with the point of GDC 146. We make use of human sciences to communicate the Gospel as effectively as our listeners will bear. Even much-maligned ones like psychology.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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