Tag Archives: goals of catechesis

Catechetics in the seminary

Last week, I spent some time at the seminary teaching on catechetics. What a fantastic few days. It was difficult to know how to pitch it, given that I’m used to speaking to adults in the parish without a great deal of theological background. But how refreshing to be able to share some catechetical principles along with concrete examples from our parish, with a wonderful group of seminarians. We discussed different experiences of catechesis – what makes good practice and what makes bad, we explored the pedagogy of God in the GDC and compared methodologies to it, we looked at the goals of catechesis outlined by Mgr FD Kelly as well as his ecclesial method, we looked at liturgical catechesis, particularly how to teach ‘from’ and ‘to’ the rite, we discussed the importance of the four dimensions of Christian life in catechetics, and the ‘symphony’ of the Catholic faith whose main themes are the five foundational truths. It was an enjoyable and inspiring three days, and I was privileged to be able to share ideas with them. For the future of catechesis in the Church, vital to her flourishing, is the solid formation of seminarians in catechetics. These few days showed me the importance of this, and I am increasing my prayers for seminarians in our country. Please increase your prayers, too!

Understanding and Conversion

This week is the last week of catechesis in the parish before Christmas 🙂 Last night the Confirmation group enjoyed their Christmas party in a tiny 24-person sofa cinema up the road. This week has also been filled with catechist meetings as we review the term, and focus once more on our meaning and purpose in catechesis. This is the same, regardless of the age group, and can be summarised as the two goals of understanding and conversion. Both are needed. The full task of catechesis is not complete if a person understands something, but it hasn’t changed them. Neither is it complete if a person experiences a conversion to Christ but is not taught the content of what Christ has made known to us. In such a situation, their conversion would remain vague, rootless, and somewhat vacuous.

Once again, we have been focussing on this definition of catechesis that can never be stressed enough, since we constantly need to self-reflect on the quality of our catechetical work:

…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.

For me, two crucial principles jump out from this definition:

1. The Christocentricity of our catechesis: We can never hear this enough! Every catechesis we give – whether it be on the Four Last Things, the Church, the sacrament of Baptism – needs to be centred on the Person of Christ. The mystery of God’s plan is fully revealed only in Him – so only in Him can these doctrines be fully understood. So, again, we challenged ourselves to think how each of the classes we teach has Christ truly at the centre.

2. The indispensability of the person of the catechist: Again, it is hard to over-emphasise this principle, since it requires our personal conversion – which continually needs to be deepened. The catechetical resource we use, and the methodology we follow, are vital; but underpinning all this is OURSELVES – the catechists, the servants of God’s Word. Time and again, I experience how the quality of the catechesis I give is dependent on the quality of my own interior and sacramental life. We can only hand on Jesus if we are in communion with Him. If not, then those we catechise may gain knowledge but the “communion” and “intimacy” with Christ will be more difficult to achieve.

So, yes… these points are real “back to basics” for seasoned catechists, but I feel we need to hear them again and again.