Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On Catechesis

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." It was thus that Jesus commanded his Apostles, giving them the Holy Spirit that they might explain with authority all that He had taught them. From the beginning, catechesis has always meant the Church’s effort to win disciples for Our Lord, to lead others to faith in Him as the Son of God that they might have the fullness of life in His name. It has also meant to teach these disciples to build up the Church, the Body of Christ, through teaching the Deposit of the Faith in an organic, systematic manner. Until Vatican II, catechesis was primarily doctrinal, consisting in instruction in the didache, the “Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles” before baptism. This doctrine was encapsulated in the Apostles Creed, the twelve fundamental doctrines which in the form of a profession of faith summarized Apostolic teaching. Over time, the fundamentals of the Faith came to be divided into Creed, Commandments, Sacraments and Prayer, the structure of our present-day Catechism.

I am one of the generational Catholics schooled in the Faith by the teaching of the Baltimore Catechism prior to Vatican II, which the postconciliar religious education establishment had branded as defective pedagogy; my quarrel with them is not over their contention concerning the style of teaching, but rather their view that the truths of the Catholic faith on the existence and nature of God, the creation and Fall, the Incarnation and Redemption, and the Church set down in the Baltimore Catechism were defective as well.  

Thus I find Msgr. Pope's recent article enlightening on mistakes made in Catechesis, all of which are discussed in my book....