GDC 220-221: “The Christian community and responsibility for catechesis”

Catechesis is not the domain only of the home or the classroom, or even the liturgical assembly:

220. Catechesis is a responsibility of the entire Christian community. Christian initiation, indeed, “should not be the work of catechists and priests alone, but of the whole community of the faithful”. (Ad Gentes 14. In this sense Catechesi Tradendae 16 says: “Catechesis always has been, and always will be a work for which the whole Church must feel responsible and must wish to be responsible.” Cf. also 1977 Synod; Message to the People of God 12; RCIA 12; canon law 774 § 1) Continuing education in the faith is a question which concerns the whole community; catechesis, therefore, is an educational activity which arises from the particular responsibility of every member of the community, in a rich context of relationships, so that catechumens and those being catechized are actively incorporated into the life of the community. The Christian community follows the development of catechetical processes, for children, young people and adults, as a duty that involves and binds it directly. (Catechesis must be supported by the witness of the ecclesial community, General Catechetical Directory 35; cf. part IV, chapter 2) Again, at the end of the catechetical process, it is the Christian community that welcomes the catechized in a fraternal environment, “in which they will be able to live in the fullest way what they have learned”. (Catechesi Tradendae 24)

221. The Christian community not only gives much to those who are being catechized but also receives much from them. New converts, especially adolescents and adults, in adhering to Jesus Christ, bring to the community which receives them new religious and human wealth. Thus the community grows and develops. Catechesis not only brings to maturity the faith of those being catechized but also brings the community itself to maturity.

Yet, while the entire Christian community is responsible for Christian catechesis and all of it members bear witness to the faith, only some receive the ecclesial mandate to be catechists. Together with the primordial mission which parents have in relation to their children, the Church confers the delicate task of organically transmitting the faith within the community on particular, specifically called members of the people of God.*

*”Besides this apostolate, which belongs to absolutely every Christian, the laity can be called in different ways to more immediate co-operation in the apostolate of the hierarchy, like those men and women who helped the apostle Paul in the Gospel, labouring much in the Lord” (Lumen Gentium 33). This conciliar doctrine is adopted by canon law 228 and 759.

Whole community catechesis is effective simply in the lived example of the Christian life of believers. This is not a new concept to the GDC or to the conciliar documents on evangelization and the mission apostolate. But it’s a bit more involved than that very important first step. note the allusion to “a rich context of relationships.” Catechesis: more than imparting information, and more than a nosiness about how others are doing it. Do our parishes provide an environment in which new believers can live the Christian life “in the fullest way,” as Pope John Paul II urged?

GDC 221 suggests that a community’s maturity is defined, in part, by how much of an evangelizing force it is.

About catholicsensibility

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