LESSON 2—What is Catechesis?
Read the following references to further clarify the central ideas of this lesson. Look in other places as well as these; this is not an exhaustive list of the resources needed to answer the questions.
Father Hardon’s Catholic Catechism
Pages 237-238 (Extension of the Incarnation)
Father Hardon’s Question and Answer Catechism
–#374 (Church’s Missionary Nature)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
#1-10 (The Life of Man – To Know and Love God)
#849-856 (Missionary Mandate)
#1122 (Mission to evangelize)
Modern Catholic Dictionary Vocabulary –
Review the following terms in your Modern Catholic Dictionary reference book (or online version at TheRealPresence.org – go to the bottom of the page, click on “Dictionary”).
On Evangelization in the Modern World (Evangelii Nuntiandi), Apostolic Exhortation of Blessed Paul VI, December 8, 1975, n. 14-15.
“14. The Church knows this. She has a vivid awareness of the fact that the Savior’s words, “I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God,”(Lk 4:43) apply in all truth to herself: She willingly adds with St. Paul: “Not that I boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty that has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it”(1Cor9:16). It is with joy and consolation that at the end of the great Assembly of 1974 we heard these illuminating words: “We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.” It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection.
15. Anyone who rereads in the New Testament the origins of the Church, follows her history step by step and watches her live and act, sees that she is linked to evangelization in her most intimate being:
– The Church is born of the evangelizing activity of Jesus and the Twelve. She is the normal, desired, most immediate and most visible fruit of this activity: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations”(Mt 28:19). Now, “they accepted what he said and were baptized. That very day about three thousand were added to their number…. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved”(Acts 2:41, 47). Having been born consequently out of being sent, the Church in her turn is sent by Jesus. The Church remains in the world when the Lord of glory returns to the Father. She remains as a sign – simultaneously obscure and luminous – of a new presence of Jesus, of His departure and of His permanent presence. She prolongs and continues Him. And it is above all His mission and His condition of being an evangelizer that she is called upon to continue. For the Christian community is never closed in upon itself. The intimate life of this community – the life of listening to the Word and the apostles’ teaching, charity lived in a fraternal way, the sharing of bread (Cf. Acts 2:42-2; 4:32-35; 5:12-16) this intimate life only acquires its full meaning when it becomes a witness, when it evokes admiration and conversion, and when it becomes the preaching and proclamation of the Good News. Thus it is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole.”
Catechesis in Our Time (Catechesi Tradendae), Apostolic Exhortation of Saint John Paul II, October 16, 1979.
Saint John Paul II issued Catechesi Tradendae as the most authoritative and up to date explanation of how the Catholic Faith should be taught in our day. It is a complement to Blessed Paul VI’s document on Evangelization in the Modern World. Significantly, Saint John Paul places the responsibility for teaching the faith on every believing Catholic, in every state of life, and in every position of human society. The very title Catechesi Tradendae is in the gerundive, which literally means how catechesis must be passed on to others. One thing stands out in this papal document, namely the obligation we have to share our faith with everyone whose life we touch.