GDC 175: General and particular tasks of adult catechesis

The General Catechetical Directory, the 1971 document, in section 97, reviewed these six tasks. Included in these tasks is “drawing attention” to the many challenges to the Christian faith. I think many Catholics demur at this point, but I don’t think we Catholics have anything to fear from being honest about our obstacles and challenges.

175. So as to respond to the more profound needs of our time, adult catechesis must systematically propose the Christian faith in its entirety and in its authenticity, in accordance with the Church’s understanding. It must give priority to the proclamation of salvation, drawing attention to the many difficulties, doubts, misunderstandings, prejudices and objections of today. It must introduce adults to a faith-filled reading of Sacred Scripture and the practice of prayer. A fundamental service to adult catechesis is given by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and by those adult catechisms based on it by the particular Churches. In particular, the tasks of adult catechesis are:

– to promote formation and development of life in the Risen Christ by adequate means: pedagogy of the sacraments, retreats, spiritual direction;

– to educate toward a correct evaluation of the socio-cultural changes of our societies in the light of faith: thus the Christian community is assisted in discerning true values in our civilization, as well as its dangers, and in adopting appropriate attitudes;

– to clarify current religious and moral questions, that is, those questions which are encountered by the men and women of our time: for example, public and private morality with regard to social questions and the education of future generations;

– to clarify the relationship between temporal actions and ecclesial action, by demonstrating mutual distinctions and implications and thus due interaction; to this end, the social doctrine of the Church is an integral part of adult catechesis;

– to develop the rational foundations of the faith: that the right understanding of the faith and of the truths to be believed are in conformity with the demands of reason and the Gospel is always relevant; it is therefore necessary to promote effectively the pastoral aim of Christian thought and culture: this helps to overcome certain forms of fundamentalism as well as subjective and arbitrary interpretations;

– to encourage adults to assume responsibility for the Church’s mission and to be able to give Christian witness in society:

The adult is assisted to discover, evaluate and activate what he has received by nature and grace, both in the Christian community and by living in human society; in this way, he will be able to overcome the dangers of standardization and of anonymity which are particularly dominant in some societies of today and which lead to loss of identity and lack of appreciation for the resources and qualities of the individual.

Some observations:

Note the first task listed involves the spiritual life. Not just the liturgy, but retreats and spiritual direction. I’d have to ask how much of this my parish provides. What about yours? Is it a priority for catechetical ministry?

Do we look for the “true values” in contemporary society as the Church here suggests? Or is it always about circling the wagons? Why is this important? Lay people live in that world. Do clergy who rail continuously against the world realize much of their audience is connected, favorably inclined, dependent upon, or even self-identified with their lives outside of the Church?

What about that last point, that it is the laity who bear responsibility for the mission of Christ in the world? Does it seem our current crop of outspoken bishops understand this?

What about your observations? Anything to say about either of these or about the other points: morality, social justice, and those “rational foundations of faith”?

About catholicsensibility

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