What is catechesis?

I’ve attempted to outline a brief summary of what the Church teaches us about catechesis. I think these points are clearer when enfleshed in experience, but as an underlying vision, here are some of the key ideas:

1. Catechesis is one of the ‘moments’ of evangelisation as a whole – therefore, it should be evangelising in its nature – a proclamation of the Good News. It should always have a missionary dynamic.

2. The goal of catechesis is to put people into intimacy, into communion with Jesus Christ (see Catechesi Tradendae, 5). That is the only goal! Christ is our only Way into the heart of God, into the life of the Trinity, so catechesis desires, above everything else, to put people into communion with Jesus.

3. How do people come into communion with Jesus? Through understanding and through conversion. When people grow in knowledge of Christ, of the Deposit of Faith he entrusted to the Apostles, and of His Body the Church, they grow in love with Him. John Paul II told us to present Christ as He really is to young people – the Truth is really beautiful, and really attracts, just as it is. As catechesis increases people’s love for Christ, they want to know him more deeply, and change their lives so that they are living more faithfully with Him.

4. Catechesis is above all a work of the Holy Spirit. Just as the angel Gabriel announced great News to Our Lady, so we announce the message that has been handed down to us through the Church. But it is the deep, interior work of the Holy Spirit that enables understanding and conversion to take place. As catechists, there is need for us to strive for excellence in what we do – we want to use all we have (human qualities, intelligence, hard work, building relationships with the people we teach) in the service of the work of catechesis. But it is the Lord who enlightens the mind and heart. Our job is to create the best conditions for this to take place.

These are just four main points, although there are many other principles to explore. The main sources of the Church’s recent teaching on catechesis can be found in Catechesi Tradendae (Catechesis in our time) written by Pope John Paul II in 1979, and the General Directory for Catechesis published in 1997. If you are involved in catechesis, I would really recommend having a look!

10 responses to “What is catechesis?

  • Fiona Paley

    Hi, Any recommendations on what the Pope has said about New Evagelisation?

  • transformedinchrist

    Oops…silly mistake! Thanks for that.

  • Lucille Rosquillo

    Wow! Thanks for this idea. I always heared about the principles and definition you’ve mention but It was taken for granted. Thanks for reminding. Very useful and inspiring as catechist.

    • transformedinchrist

      I’m glad you found it helpful. I think we often need to remind ourselves of the vision and principles of what we are doing. Thanks for your comment!

      • Lucille Rosquillo

        Hello! Oh! What a surprise! I discovered that you are related to Notre Dame de Vie Institute. I’m so happy, It’s because I studied in a Catechetical School run by the NDV members in the Philippines!
        I am a catechist here in the Philippines and I am teaching with the deaf and your posts are all helpful for me. Thank you!

      • transformedinchrist

        Hi lucille! I’ve been once to Notre dame de vie in Venasque, it is beautiful!! I was there for the Easter Triduum a year and a half ago. Maryvale also has links with Notre dame de vie. It’s great to hear about the great work you do – I’m glad you find the blog helpful. Thanks for your comment and God bless!

  • Lucille Rosquillo

    Wow! Very true that peer ministry is very effective that is what i am doing now with the deaf here in the Philippines. I am training and help form deaf catechists because I believe that deaf to deaf can be more effective.
    Deaf students are more expressive. They can share more with the deaf teachers..

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