A footnote on the title of this section refers to Part V, Chapter 1, (numbered sections 217-232) which, at the rate we’re going, we’ll hit in another seven weeks.
This is a very interesting section. It continues to suggest that most of the more important catechesis to any age group, and in any situation, depends on the faith community (parish, religious community, school, home, peer group, small group, seminary, etc.) as not only a context for religious formation, but as a source of catechetical material and expertise:
158. Catechetical pedagogy will be effective to the extent that the Christian community becomes a point of concrete reference for the faith journey of individuals. This happens when the community is proposed as a source, locus and means of catechesis. Concretely, the community becomes a visible place of faith-witness. It provides for the formation of its members. It receives them as the family of God. It constitutes itself as the living and permanent environment for growth in the faith.(Cf. Ad Gentes 14; General Catechetical Directory 35; Catechesi Tradendae 24)
Church documentation from Vatican II forward reinforces the idea that the faith community is where a vibrant (Latin-derived term) and continual faith formation takes place. It’s not just a modern idea developed in religious education conferences.
Besides public and collective proclamation of the Gospel, person-to-person contact, after the example of Jesus and the Apostles, remains indispensable. In this way, personal conscience is more easily committed. The gift of the Holy Spirit comes to the subject from one living person to another. Thus, the power of persuasion becomes more effective.(Evangelii Nuntiandi 46)
Consider the vital one-on-one situations in the Church that are included in this: godparent, sponsor, tutor, spiritual director, confessor, married couple, home visitor, counselor–and that doesn’t even include the many one-on-one opportunities in parish life that arise from group settings.
Note John Paul II’s point about persuasion–it’s very key to this moment in the Church. It’s not about talking louder. It’s not about getting heavyweights into the fray. It’s the down-and-dirty, and difficult task of two-person dialogue. Are we ready for this?