In a previous post I wrote how “content matters” in your ministry. This week I would like to expand our thinking to how catechesis matters.
Recently I had to take my eight year old son to Church for a catechesis session for his Confirmation. He wondered what this “Cat of Chesis” was all about so we had a little joke that he was going to see a “cat from Chesis”. After attending the catechesis session he said to me “it is just like a lesson at school”. I think my son suffers a similar misconception to other Catholics who attend Catholic school; that is they believe that Catechesis is another name for religious education. Catechesis and religious education are similar but different. So what is Catechesis and why does content matter?
1. Catechesis is about Jesus – “The name of catechesis is given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in His name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ.” (Catechesi Tradendae, n 1)
Whilst there is a temptation for ministers to use a Catechesis session to teach people information, the focus of catechesis should be content that draws the learner into a deeper relationship with Jesus. The content needs to be chosen carefully so that it helps the people to explore and believe, not just be informed.
2. Catechesis is a witness – “Catechesis is an apprenticeship of the entire Christian life which promotes an authentic following of Christ” (General Directory of Catechesis n 67). The key to catechesis should be the interaction between the minster and the participant. In your parish or ministry there should be some “apprenticeship” as the participant is witness to the life of the Leader. The content of catechesis should not be driven by a curriculum (which is religious education) but by the questions the participant has. For example at WYD the best part of the morning catechesis is the Q&A with the Bishop as it is about the questions the young people have. When a participant wants to draw closer to Christ, they have questions that need answers yet the leader should be more of a witness than a teacher. In catechesis the style should be “do as I do, not just what I say”.
3. Catechesis is ongoing – can we ever profess to know everything about God? Is there ever a time when we can say we understand the fullness of God and the Church? It is natural for us to grow in our understanding of God but there is always more to know. As ministry coordinators, interns, volunteers or leaders we need catechesis too. To be involved in on going catechesis is to be continuously pursuing a deeper relationship with God. The best witness to this is our own Bishop David who says that he still gets new insights into the scriptures every time he is involved in Lectio Divina.
What areas do you need more catechesis in? What areas of your walk with Jesus could grow deeper by finding a suitable witness who can spend some time with you engaging in catechesis? Please write a list of what you would like to know more about and ask for the help of someone who can “disciple” you in this process of Catechesis.
Stay tuned, next week we will look at