La catequesis no puede disociarse del conjunto de actividades pastorales y misionales de la Iglesia. Catequesis y primer anuncio del Evangelio La catequesis tiende pues a desarrollar la inteligencia del misterio de Cristo a la luz de la Palabra, para que el hombre entero sea impregnado por ella. Catequesis y experiencia vital Por eso podemos aplicar a los catequistas lo que el Concilio Vaticano II ha dicho especialmente de los sacerdotes: educadores del hombre y de la vida del hombre en la fe .
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The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks, for, before Christ ascended to His Father after His resurrection, He gave the apostles a final command - to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that He had commanded. And He gave them the Spirit to fulfill this mission. Very soon the name of catechesis was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in His name, 3 and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ.
The Church has not ceased to devote her energy to this task. The most recent Popes gave catechesis a place of eminence in their pastoral solicitude. On March 18, , he approved the General Catechetical Directory prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, a directory that is still the basic document for encouraging and guiding catechetical renewal throughout the Church.
He set up the International Council for Catechesis in He defined in masterly fashion the role and significance of catechesis in the life and mission of the Church when he addressed the participants in the first International Catechetical Congress on September 25, , 4 and he returned explicitly to the subject in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi.
A Fruitful Synod 3. The Synod worked in an exceptional atmosphere of thanksgiving and hope. It saw in catechetical renewal a precious gift from the Holy Spirit to the Church of today, a gift to which the Christian communities at all levels throughout the world are responding with a generosity and inventive dedication that win admiration. The requisite discernment could then be brought to bear on a reality that is very much alive and it could benefit from great openness among the People of God to the grace of the Lord and the directives of the magisterium.
Purpose of This Exhortation 4. It is in the same climate of faith and hope that I am today addressing this apostolic exhortation to you, venerable brothers and dear sons and daughters. The theme is extremely vast and the exhortation will keep to only a few of the most topical and decisive aspects of it, as an affirmation of the happy results of the synod. In essence, the exhortation takes up again the reflections that were prepared by Pope Paul VI, making abundant use of the documents left by the synod.
Pope John Paul I, whose zeal and gifts as a catechist amazed us all, had taken them in hand and was preparing to publish them when he was suddenly called to God. To all of us he gave an example of catechesis at once popular and concentrated on the essential, one made up of simple words and actions that were able to touch the heart. I am therefore taking up the inheritance of these two Popes in response to the request which was expressly formulated by the Bishops at the end of the fourth general assembly of the synod and which was welcomed by Pope Paul VI in his closing speech.
Catechesis has always been a central care in my ministry as a priest and as a Bishop. I ardently desire that this apostolic exhortation to the whole Church should strengthen the solidity of the faith and of Christian living, should give fresh vigor to the initiatives in hand, should stimulate creativity - with the required vigilance - and should help to spread among the communities the joy of bringing the mystery of Christ to the world.
The fourth general assembly of the synod of Bishops often stressed the Christocentricity of all authentic catechesis. We can here use the word "Christocentricity" in both its meanings, which are not opposed to each other or mutually exclusive, but each of which rather demands and completes the other.
In the first place, it is intended to stress that at the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, "the only Son from the Father It is Jesus who is "the way, and the truth, and the life," 10 and Christian living consists in following Christ, the sequela Christi. The primary and essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St. Paul and also to contemporary theology, "the mystery of Christ. Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.
Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus. He will not seek to keep directed towards himself and his personal opinions and attitudes the attention and the consent of the mind and heart of the person he is catechizing.
Every catechist should be able to apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. Paul did this when he was dealing with a question of prime importance: "I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you. This teaching is not a body of abstract truths. It is the communication of the living mystery of God. The Person teaching it in the Gospel is altogether superior in excellence to the "masters" in Israel, and the nature of His doctrine surpasses theirs in every way because of the unique link between what He says, what He does and what He is.
Nevertheless, the Gospels clearly relate occasions when Jesus "taught. Jesus taught. It is the witness that He gives of Himself: "Day after day I sat in the temple teaching. One who teaches in this way has a unique title to the name of "Teacher. One can understand why people of every kind, race and nation have for 2, years in all the languages of the earth given Him this title with veneration, repeating in their own ways the exclamation of Nicodemus: "We know that you are a teacher come from God.
It comes from the pen of the evangelists and it has often been evoked subsequently in iconography since earliest Christian times, 27 so captivating is it. And I am pleased to evoke it in my turn at the beginning of these considerations on catechesis in the modern world. Teaching Through His Life as a Whole 9. In doing so, I am not forgetful that the majesty of Christ the Teacher and the unique consistency and persuasiveness of His teaching can only be explained by the fact that His words, His parables and His arguments are never separable from His life and His very being.
Hence for Christians the crucifix is one of the most sublime and popular images of Christ the Teacher. These considerations follow in the wake of the great traditions of the Church and they all strengthen our fervor with regard to Christ, the Teacher who reveals God to man and man to himself, the Teacher who saves, sanctifies and guides, who lives, who speaks, rouses, moves, redresses, judges, forgives, and goes with us day by day on the path of history, the Teacher who comes and will come in glory.
Only in deep communion with Him will catechists find light and strength for an authentic, desirable renewal of catechesis. The image of Christ the Teacher was stamped on the spirit of the Twelve and of the first disciples, and the command "Go John bears witness to this in his Gospel when he reports the words of Jesus: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
The whole of the book of the Acts of the Apostles is a witness that they were faithful to their vocation and to the mission they had received. The members of the first Christian community are seen in it as "devoted to the apostles" teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. When those who opposed the apostles took offense at their activity, it was because they were "annoyed because the apostles were teaching the people" 32 and the order they gave them was not to teach at all in the name of Jesus.
The apostles were not slow to share with others the ministry of apostleship. They entrusted it also to the deacons from the moment of their institution: Stephen, "full of grace and power," taught unceasingly, moved by the wisdom of the Spirit. Paul was in a pre-eminent way the herald of this preaching, from Antioch to Rome, where the last picture of him that we have in Acts is that of a person "teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly.
The letters of Peter, John, James and Jude are also, in every case, evidence of catechesis in the apostolic age. Before being written down, the Gospels were the expression of an oral teaching passed on to the Christian communities, and they display with varying degrees of clarity a catechetical structure. The Fathers of the Church This mission of teaching that belonged to the apostles and their first fellow workers was continued by the Church.
Making herself day after day a disciple of the Lord, she earned the title of "Mother and Teacher. Next we see a striking fact: Some of the most impressive Bishops and pastors, especially in the third and fourth centuries considered it an important part of their espiscopal ministry to deliver catechetical instructions and write treatises. It was the age of Cyril of Jerusalem and John Chrysostom, of Ambrose and Augustine, the age that saw the flowering, from the pen of numerous Fathers of the Church, of works that are still models for us.
It would be impossible here to recall, even very briefly the catechesis that gave support to the spread and advance of the Church in the various periods of history, in every continent, and in the widest variety of social and cultural contexts. There was indeed no lack of difficulties. But the word of the Lord completed its course down the centuries; it sped on and triumphed, to use the words of the Apostle Paul.
The ministry of catechesis draws ever fresh energy from the councils. The Council of Trent is a noteworthy example of this.
It gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. It lies at the origin of the Roman Catechism, which is also known by the name of that council and which is a work of the first rank as a summary of Christian teaching and traditional theology for use by priests.
It gave rise to a remarkable organization of catechesis in the Church. It aroused the clergy to their duty of giving catechetical instruction. Thanks to the work of holy theologians such as St. Charles Borromeo, St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Peter Canisius, it involved the publication of catechisms that were real models for that period. May the Second Vatican Council stir up in our time a like enthusiasm and similar activity.
The missions are also a special area for the application of catechesis. The People of God have thus continued for almost 2, years to educate themselves in the faith in ways adapted to the various situations of believers and the many different circumstances in which the Church finds herself.
It is worthwhile pointing out some of the many lessons to be drawn from the experiences in Church history that we have just recalled. To begin with, it is clear that the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right. On the one hand, it is certainly a duty springing from a command given by the Lord and resting above all on those who in the new covenant receive the call to the ministry of being pastors.
On the other hand, one can likewise speak of a right: from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely the reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life; and from the viewpoint of human rights, every human being has the right to seek religious truth and adhere to it freely, that is to say, "without coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and any human power," in such a way that in this matter of religion, "no one is to be forced to act against his or her conscience or prevented from acting in conformity to it.
At present this right is admittedly being given growing recognition, at least on the level of its main principles, as is shown by international declarations and conventions in which, whatever their limitations, one can recognize the desires of the consciences of many people today. I vigorously raise my voice in union with the synod fathers against all discrimination in the field of catechesis, and at the same time I again make a pressing appeal to those in authority to put a complete end to these constraints on human freedom in general and on religious freedom in particular.
Priority of This Task The more the Church, whether on the local or the universal level, gives catechesis priority over other works and undertakings the results of which would be more spectacular, the more she finds in catechesis a strengthening of her internal life as a community of believers and of her external activity as a missionary Church.
As the 20th century draws to a close, the Church is bidden by God and by events - each of them a call from Him - to renew her trust in catechetical activity as a prime aspect of her mission. She is bidden to offer catechesis her best resources in people and energy, without sparing effort, toil or material means, in order to organize it better and to train qualified personnel.
This is no mere human calculation; it is an attitude of faith. And an attitude of faith always has reference to the faithfulness of God, who never fails to respond. Shared But Differentiated Responsibility The third lesson is that catechesis always has been and always will be a work for which the whole Church must feel responsible and must wish to be responsible. Because of their charge, pastors have, at differing levels, the chief responsibility for fostering, guiding and coordinating catechesis.
For his part, the Pope has a lively awareness of the primary responsibility that rests on him in this field: In this he finds reasons for pastoral concern but principally a source of joy and hope. Priests and religious have in catechesis a pre-eminent field for their apostolate.
On another level, parents have a unique responsibility. Teachers, the various ministers of the Church, catechists, and also organizers of social communications, all have in various degrees very precise responsibilities in this education of the believing conscience, an education that is important for the life of the Church and affects the life of society as such. It would be one of the best results of the general assembly of the synod that was entirely devoted to catechesis if it stirred up in the Church as a whole and in each sector of the Church a lively and active awareness of this differentiated but shared responsibility.
Continual Balanced Renewal
In November , during the pontificate of Bl. Based on the documents and conversations to emerge from the Synod, the work was begun by Paul VI, continued during the exceedingly brief pontificate of John Paul I, and then taken up and completed by John Paul II. The text of this document is full of beautiful insights into the task of catechesis, one of the most important responsibilities of the Church. And He gave them the Spirit to fulfill this mission. Authentic catechesis, according to the Synod fathers and stressed in the document, is fundamentally Christocentric.
All About Mary
La catequesis no puede disociarse del conjunto de actividades pastorales y misionales de la Iglesia. Catequesis y primer anuncio del Evangelio La catequesis tiende pues a desarrollar la inteligencia del misterio de Cristo a la luz de la Palabra, para que el hombre entero sea impregnado por ella. Catequesis y experiencia vital Por eso podemos aplicar a los catequistas lo que el Concilio Vaticano II ha dicho especialmente de los sacerdotes: educadores del hombre y de la vida del hombre en la fe.