“Catechesis is an education of children, young people and adults in the faith, which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life”. (CT 18; cf. CCC.5).”
Catechesis is about the Church passing on the Catholic faith. The Church speaks and acts in the name of Christ who in turn spoke and acted in the name of his Father in heaven. The apostles of Christ transmitted what they had learnt from him and from the Holy Spirit given to them after Christ’s resurrection. The Church throughout her 2000 year history has passed on the ‘fidei depositum’, everything that God has revealed of himself and his plan of salvation fully revealed and complete in Christ and received by his chosen followers to transmit by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Catechesis must aim to put people in communion with Jesus Christ (CT 5), and thus should be centered on Christ, the alpha and omega of our faith (Rev. 22:13). It also follows that Christ’s teaching, and not the opinions or agendas of the catechist, must be communicated. It is on the basis of Revelation that catechesis will set its course Revelation as transmitted by the universal Magisterium of the Church. (CT 6, 52)
If catechesis were only abstract teaching, then the goal would be imparting knowledge. But catechesis is much more! It is the formation of effective Catholics. Therefore, the goal of the catechist must always be to set hearts aflame for Christ: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Lk. 24:32).
With the promulgation of two Magisterial documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the General Directory for Catechesis the Church has provided a clear vision and direction for catechetical initiatives. Both documents place great emphasis on catechesis as transmission of that deposit of faith that we have received from Christ, the Apostles and the living Magisterium of the Church.
Since adults have the greatest potential for achieving full maturity in faith and the ability to carry out their responsibilities for the mission of Jesus Christ the Church teaches that the education of adults is to be considered a “principal form of catechesis” (.CT 43)
The day before he was elected pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratizinger stood up in front of the Conclave of Cardinals and gave a rousing homily based, in part, on a passage from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. (4:11-16). He said:
“We must not remain children in faith, in the condition of minors…being “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). This description is very timely! ….Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine”, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. This is building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires. An “adult” faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty;
A mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth. We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith – only faith – that creates unity and is fulfilled in love. Truth and love coincide in Christ. To the extent that we draw close to Christ, in our own lives too, truth and love are blended. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like “a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
The General Directory for Catechesis states that the faith of adults must be continually enlightened, developed, and protected. The parish of St Benedict provides adult religious education programmes that will help adults and young people expand their knowledge and understanding of Catholic teachings, consider the impact of these teachings on daily life, and grow to maturity in faith.
Putting adult catechesis first does not mean discontinuing catechesis for children. Catechesis for children who attend non Catholic schools is offered weekly throughout the school year, and preparation is given for all children in the parish for reception of the sacraments. These programmes are needed to assist parents who are the primary educators of their children in the faith. The Parish catechetical programmes seek to accommodate not only different age groups, but also various cultures, educational abilities, physical needs, and schedules. All Parish programmes are underpinned by prayer, the universal call to holiness and the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324)