Reflections for the Journey
Leaving everything behind, stripped bare of all of the past and, like the legendary phoenix, from the ashes will rise a new beginning, a new life. Our Australian bushland knows this story, it is the story of each new generation, and it is part of God’s plan. We are called to walk through the fire and cover ourselves with ashes, a sigh that we know that we began as a speck and will one day return to the earth in our mortal body. Yet like the seed with so much hidden potential, that requires the heat of the fire to crack open, we too have hope that within us that part that is slowly being formed will seize hold of the potential and rise to new life.
So, we gather and place ash upon our heads and remember we are dust, we are sinners who although undeserving to have Him enter under our roof, know that by His word we are made whole.
Walking in the desert it is lonely, peaceful, barren yet full of life. It is where the prophets go to hear the voice of God. It is where Jesus went to prepare for his ministry. It is a place where the interruptions are those forced on us by our own thoughts. The temptations are mostly distractions from our real purpose. The hunger and thirst are nothing compared to our pride and earthly desires for recognition, for love, for possessions and good health. All are mirages when compared with the mission to which we are called; to deny ourselves and come follow Him; to see the place where He lives.
Forty days, a little over a month, seems like a drop in the ocean of our life. Some say that it takes forty days to change a habit. Is this forty days for us to recreate ourselves, to reform who we are, to make ourselves something closer to that which we are called to be?
Lent means spring, the season of new life of unrestrained growth. We celebrate it in autumn, the season of letting the last season’s growth fall away to prepare the earth for the next season of growth. Both symbolise putting off the old and taking on the new. Both seasons are vital for the survival of the ecosystem. It can be a springboard for us to change, a catalyst for us to take on something we have been holding back from. It can be a time to spring clean our lives in order to make room for The Life.
© 2013 Marie Fernandez
Our liturgical cycle refers to the readings and celebrations we have throughout the church year. The word Liturgy means the work of the people. This is the work we do as a community when we come together to celebrate the Mass.
Did you know that prior to the second Vatican Council the Church had only two readings for each Mass (these were a reading from the Epistles and the Gospel, readings from the Old Testament were rarely used), on a one year cycle? The same readings were used each year. Since Vatican II, each Sunday Mass has three readings have been used, one from the Old Testament (except after Easter where NT readings are used), the Second from the New Testament Epistles and the Gospel. These were used over a three year cycle. The intention was to expose the congregation to more of the Biblical texts. The weekday readings would also be expanded to a two year cycle with two readings at each Mass.
To figure out which year we are in, here’s a little trick; if the year is divisible by 3 then you are in year C. The years cycle alphabetically. In Year A the primary Gospel is that of Matthew, year B the Gospel is primarily Mark and year C it is Luke. The Gospel of John is proclaimed on particular Sundays in each of the three years. For the weekdays Year 1 are the odd years, Year 2 the even.
The Liturgical Year begins with the First Sunday of Advent and concludes with the Feast of Christ the King. Like any calendar it celebrates special occasions or feasts and has seasons. The six seasons emphasis different parts of the life of Jesus. They are: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter Triduum (three events – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday), Easter, Ordinary Time. Each season is highlighted by using particular colours.
In the atrium of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd we highlight for the children three major feasts: Easter, Christmas and Pentecost. We celebrate the way God interacts with people through these great events.
We mark the passing of seasons through the use of liturgical colours on our prayer table and in some of the atrium works. We talk about the seasons through the liturgical colours. Purple (used in lent and advent) is for preparing for the feast to come. White, the colour we use at Baptism, the colour of the light, is for the great feasts of celebration (Easter and Christmas). Green, the colour of new leaves of growing things, is for the Ordinary Time, that long time between feasts where thewoders of Jesus sit within us and grow and form us. And red the colour of fire, the flame of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. One of the songs the children love to sing to hep them remember the colours and what they mean has these words:
We meditate specifically on the church liturgical cycle using the Liturgical Calendar. The calendar is circular, as it represents that the years continue in a pattern that repeats. The calendar is read in an anticlockwise direction, to remind us that this is not the same time we live in, it is not like a clock, but it is different. It is God’s time.
This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Baptism is the first sacrament of initiation into the church. It marks us as sheep of the Good Shepherd and gives us what we need to follow him and help to build his Kingdom.
In the atrium we meditate on the Sacrament of Baptism and the signs and symbols used in this sacrament.
The gift of light was the fist thing that God created. It lights our path and chases away the darkness. In Baptism it is also a sign of the risen Christ who is stronger than death and whose light will never go out. He shares his light with us and asks us to share it with the whole world so that the light will chase away the darkness.
We know that water is necessary for life, without it nothing would grow. It is cleansing and refreshing, calming and exhilarating. We are born in water from our mother’s womb and it is fitting that we are born to life in Christ through the waters of Baptism.
A gesture is made over the water asking for the Holy Spirit to come. When the waters are poured on the one who is Baptised the Holy Spirit fills them with his gifts.
The water is not dripped over the one who is Baptised but poured out in abundance, showing how much God wants us to have His Life in His Kingdom.
In Baptism we are annointed with two oils.
The Oil of Catechumens, like oil used to strengthen athletes bodies and to heal wounds, this oil prepares us for life as God’s children. It gives us strength to help to bring about God’s Kingdom.
The Oil of Chrism, a sweet smelling oil used to annoint Priest’s Prophets and Kings. The sweet smell reminds us that this gift of the life of Jesus is beautiful and to be shared with others.
God’s Word is one way God speaks to us. He word guides our lives. At Baptism, His Word is read to encourage us to listen to Him and to be guided by Him.
The Sign of the Cross
Like a brand on a sheep showing who it belongs to, the cross is signed on our bodies to mark us as sheep of the Good Shepherd. A larger cross is placed before us as a shield to protect us throughout our lives.
The Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season. What a wonderful way to finish off this season which we often connect with gift giving! The readings at Mass reflect on the story of wise men coming from the East to come and find the newborn king and do him homage.
Often, we reflect on these wise men, how did they know? Who were they? Why would they come? How did they feel when they found him in a manger? Did they still want to give their gifts?
Many reflect that the wise men coming from outside of Israel represent that the Messiah was for all people not just the “chosen people”.
In the atrium, we reflect with the youngest children about the wonderous events surrounding the birth of the child promised by the prophets. Isaiah tells us that he will have “the government on his shoulders and his name will be wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father and Prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and the book of Numbers says that a “star will come out of Jacob and a sceptre will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17).
We ponder about who this child is born in a stable to a young mother? Who is he whose birth is announced even in the stars? Who is this child that visitors travel so far to greet?
The wise men or magi had been watching and waiting. They noticed the signs, perhaps before the people of Israel.
We ponder: How did they feel when they finally found him?
As the children get a little older we go deeper.
We often reflect on the plan of God;
“A plan has always existed in the mind of God, the aim of which is to bring humankind to the full enjoyment of God.” (Sofia Cavalletti, History of the Kingdom of God, Part 1, From Creation to Parousia, 1)
We may look at the gifts given to the baby. What kind of gifts do we normally give to newborn babies? Not the gifts given by the magi. What use were gold, frankincense and myrrh to a small child? Could they mean something more?
Did the magi know something more about this child? Did they know who he really was?
Consider gold, a gift fit for a king. What kind of king was this baby? King of what? King of who?
Frankincense, an offering to God. Did they know he was the Son of God?
Myrrh, used to anoint one who dies. A strange gift for someone beginning their life. Perhaps it may mean that this child would die, just like everyone else. He was human like us.
Who was this child? Who did he come for?
Level 2 Part 2
Monday 15th – Saturday 20th January 2018
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd WA
A Vision for Children
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd offers Christian formation for children ages 3 through 12. Through this experience, children are helped to form an authentic, faithful relationship with God. The Catechesis is grounded in scriptural and liturgical study framed by Maria Montessori’s principles of education. The children are given the opportunity to hear the Gospel and absorb its message through the use of sensorially rich materials and the work of their hands.
You are invited to participate in this Level II Part 2 formation, which will be a personal faith enrichment retreat as well as prepare you to work in an atrium with children ages 6 to 9 years old if you choose to.
The Level II course continues the themes of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd begun in Level I formation. It is essential that those taking this course have completed their Level I formation. The objectives of this Level II formation include:
- To explore the religious nature and the developmental plane of the 6 to 9 year old child;
- To continue the presentation of the methodology and guiding principles of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, with a focus on moral formation that includes preparation for the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation;
- To broaden the catechist’s ability to observe and learn from children, to listen with children to Scripture, and to deepen the catechist’s enjoyment of God’s presence;
- To offer guidelines and assistance in preparing the atrium environment and in making the catechist’s album and catechetical material;
- To meditate on the biblical and liturgical themes presented to the 6 to 9 year old child.
This course is a spiritual formation experience for adults, as well as instruction in this method of catechesis for children. The pace of the course is retreat-like in keeping with its contemplative nature of the CGS approach. Presentations are given from Scripture and liturgy as they are given to the children. Adults will receive background information on selected themes and will be encouraged to read the core CGS texts throughout the course. Participants who complete this formation will receive a certificate from the Australian Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Coffee/Tea and snacks will be served during the course hours. We ask participants to bring their own lunch. Be aware in order to fulfill the 45-hour requirement for certification, there may be a few days of working lunches. Tuition for the formation is $350. See booking form for details about payment.
Mary Hare, the current President of the Australian Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. We are very grateful to have Mary join us and share her many years of experience working with children and adults in CGS.
Marie Fernandez, is a catechist from Western Australia who has worked in all levels of CGS. Marie is the current secretary of CGSWA as well as editor of the Green Pastures Australian Journal for CGS.
45 Wellington Road Morley WA 6062
Next door to Infant Jesus Catholic Church, park at rear or in the church carpark.
Phone: 0405 310 197
(please email the following details to email@example.com)
Completed L1P1, L1P2, L2P1, L2P2, L3P1, L3P2 (please circle)
Please pay via direct deposit to: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd WA Inc BSB: 086-006 Acct No: 19-562-9916 Amount $350
The Atrium in the early church was the place near the church entrance where new believers prepared to be received into the church through the sacraments of initiation.
The atrium in the context of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is the gathering place; a place to prepare to become full members of the church; the place where the children come to develop a personal relationship with Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
The season of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. With the children this is celebrated by a procession and a changing of the colours of the prayer table cloth from green to purple. Purple is the colour used in the church for this season. We talk to the children about preparing our hearts to receive Jesus at the great feast of the Nativity.
We often reflect on the sensorial symbols used in the church to alert the children to what they will encounter at Mass; the priest will wear purple as a sign of preparation for the coming of Jesus.
During advent we seek out the signs to help us recognize this coming. We read the prophecies of Isaiah and wonder who is this one who is coming? This child who is called Immanuel – God with us, this child who has been given authority and will be called Mighty God, Wonderful Counsellor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We ponder about what the great light is that the people who walk in darkness will see.
We then look at the coming of Jesus, how his birth was announced to a young girl in Nazareth. We wonder at how the spirit came upon her and how she was able to respond with a yes to the call to become the tabernacle of the Lord.
We ponder how the secret was passed from God, through an angel first to Mary then to Elizabeth and her unborn child, who recognized Immanuel still being knitted in his mother’s womb.
We imagine how the shepherds felt when the angels told them that the savior had been born. That Mighty God born in a lowly stable, what does this mean? Who will he become??
But Advent is more than reliving the memories of the birth of Christ. It is not a memorial celebration. The word advent comes from the Latin adventus which is the translation of the Greek word Parousia, when Christ will come again.
Are we looking for the signs that the prophets foretold? Are we the people now walking in darkness, will we see the great light? Will we recognize the child born in a stable if he came to our world today? Will he come in power or will he come as before, as one who is little and humble? Are we looking and searching? Are we prepared?
The gospel reading for the first Sunday in advent is taken from Mark 13:33-37 where we are called to keep awake because we do not know the day or the hour of the master’s return. I invite you to read and reflect on these words.
Mark 13:33-37 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
33 Beware, keep alert;[a] for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Footnotes: Mark 13:33 Other ancient authorities add and pray
Are you ready?
How do we introduce Christ the King in the atrium?
The method we use with the little children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is to wonder about what God is telling us in his word and to look at signs and symbols for their hidden secrets.
Pope Pius XI established the Feast of Christ the King in 1925. The Pope wrote about his reasons for instituting this feast day in his encyclical, Quas Primas[i]. Some of the things he refers to seem to be echoed in the things we face today in a world that is rapidly turning to serving themselves and away from Christ.
A King implies there is a Kingdom. We learn about his kingdom through the parables. Jesus reveals to us the secrets of the kingdom of God but in a way where we have to ponder and seek. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed[ii], it is like a precious pearl[iii], like a treasure hidden in a field[iv], like yeast in bread[v]. How do these parables help us to understand what God’s kingdom is like? It is a mystery we can ponder for a long time. Something so small that grows to something so big. Something so precious that we look all of our lives to find it, or perhaps stumble across it when we are on our way to do other things. What is God’s kingdom? During advent we meditate on in the atrium is about the one who is to come. One who will rule:
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel [vi]
One who will have powerful names:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace[vii].
With some of the older children we meditate on our role in the kingdom. We ask questions of ourselves. How can I bring his kingdom closer? What can I do today? How do I live and continue to bring about God’s Plan of bringing all people to life in his kingdom? Each time we pray the Our Father we say the words:
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done[viii]”.
Are we aware of what we are asking for? Is it something we truly embrace? It makes me reflect on my own life. Am I continuing the help God’s kingdom to come now, here, in my everyday thoughts and action? Am I longing for Parousia when God will be all in all[ix] and his kingdom will have no end[x]? Sofia Cavalletti in her book The History of God From Creation to Parousia[xi] says
“Thus, the history continues straining toward a hope: the salvation of all people and the expansion of the covenant to the “ends of the earth,” when the saved person will carry with him or her the entire universe, “which has been groaning in labor pains until now” (Romans 8:22). Indeed, the redemption of the universe is connected to human redemption. Just as the earth was cursed because of humankind’s sin, so, too, it will be restored and redeemed by the influence – positive this time – that redeemed human beings exercise upon it[xii]. Thus, all things will be recapitulated in Christ, who will reinstate the kingdom of God, and his kingdom will have no end.”
- [i] http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_11121925_quas-primas.html
- [ii] Matthew 13:31
- [iii] Matthew 13:45
- [iv] Matthew 13:44
- [v] Matthew 13:33
- [vi] Numbers 24:17
- [vii] Isaiah 9:6
- [viii] Matthew 6:10
- [ix] 1 Corinthinans 15:28
- [x] Luke 1:33
- [xi] Cavalletti, S, The History of the Kingdom of God Part 2 From Creation to Parousia. Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago IL, 2012, page 185.
- [xii] Lyonnet, S, La storia della salvezza nella Lettera ai Romani, Napoli, 1966, page 221.
What are the principal points which distinguish this catechesis and because of which it is called the “Catechesis of the Good Shepherd”? The following characteristics are intended to represent the principal aspects of the catechesis as they have emerged after more than fifty years of work with children of different countries, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. These characteristics are reflective of the constants which have presented themselves in this work and are presented here with the invitation to go deeper into them for further reflection.
- The child, particularly the religious life of the child, is central to the interest and commitment of the catechist of the Good Shepherd.
- The catechist observes and studies the vital needs of the child and the manifestations of those vital needs according to the developmental stage of the child
- The catechists live with the child a shared religious experience according to the teaching of the gospel: “Except you become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 18:3)
- The catechist attends to the conditions which are necessary for this life to be experienced and to flourish.
- With this aim in mind, the catechist embraces Maria Montessori’s vision of the human being and thus the attitude of the adult regarding the child; and prepares an environment called the atrium, which aids the development of the religious life.
- The atrium is a community in which children and adults live together a religious experience which facilitates participation in the wider community of the family, the church and other social spheres.
- The atrium is a place of prayer, in which work and study spontaneously become meditation, contemplation and prayer.
- The atrium is a place in which the only Teacher is Christ; both children and adults place themselves in a listening stance before his Word and seek to penetrate the mystery of the liturgical celebration.
- The transmission of the Christian message in the atrium has a celebrative character.
- The catechist is not a teacher, remembering that the only Teacher is Christ himself.
- The catechist renounces every form of control (such as quizzes, texts, exams, etc.) in the spirit of poverty before an experience whose fruits are not her/his own.
- The themes presented in the atrium are those to which the children have responded with depth and joy. These themes are taken from the Bible and the liturgy (prayers and sacraments) as the fundamental sources for creating and sustaining Christian life at every developmental stage and, in particular, for illuminating and nourishing the child in his/her most vital religious needs.
- The Word is proclaimed in the most objective manner possible, so that the words of the adult do not impede the communication between God who speaks and God’s creature who listens. The only aim of the words of the adult is to discreetly serve the listening to God’s Word, in accordance with Jesus’ own statement in the gospel: “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.” (John 7:16)
- The catechist of the Good Shepherd does not incorporate into the catechesis themes other than those which emerge from the essentiality and specificity of the vital needs of the children and our work with them.
- The weekly atrium gatherings should last at least two hours, of which a small part is often dedicated to the catechist’s presentation, and the majority of the time is reserved for the personal work of the child.
- In harmony with the universal church, the life in the atrium follows the liturgical year; therefore, moments which are particularly intense are those of Christmas/Epiphany and Easter/Pentecost.
- Eucharist is central to the life of the atrium at every level, according to the various denominations of the Christian church in which the atrium is located.
- At the annual announcement of the celebration of first communion, the children respond according to the desire for the sacrament and their personal maturity, which is discerned with the help of the family, the catechists and the priest.
- The celebration of first communion is preceded by an intense period of preparation consisting of special weekly gatherings other than the regular atrium sessions.
- The retreat for first communion lasts at least four days (from morning to evening.) Essential elements of the retreat include:
- a daily celebration of eucharist;
- sufficient opportunity for the children to work in peace with what they’ve already been given without receiving new presentations;
- extending the retreat until the evening also on the day of first communion, so that the children are not too quickly distracted from what they have lived.
- The celebration of first reconciliation is solemnly linked to the baptismal signs of the white garment and the light, and, in the case of catechumens, of the celebration of baptism.
- The attention given to meetings with families intensifies during the period leading up to first communion.
- The catechesis continues in the years which follow first communion, returning to and enlarging upon themes already introduced and presenting other themes according to the new needs of the emerging developmental period.
- A material is placed at the disposal of the children. The children’s personal work with the material aids their meditation on and absorption of the theme presented. In settings where it is not possible to have an atrium yet, another valid instrument for announcing the Christian message consists in the workbooks and catechists’ guidebooks: “I Am the Good Shepherd”. The voice of the Good Shepherd can reach the child through different instruments, but regardless of the particular instrument, the voice of the Shepherd resounds in the depths of the heart.
- The material must be attractive but “sober” and must strictly adhere to the theme being presented. In making the material, the catechist refrains from adding superficial embellishments which would distract the child from the essentials of the theme being presented. In other words, the material must be simple, essential and “poor” in order to allow the richness of the themes content to shine through.
- This same guideline (as in #18) applies to the atrium environment itself. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd can be realized in any social or cultural setting.
- The materials prepared by catechists for the atrium are faithful to the experimental models of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The designs of these models are the result of a long, collaborative work of observation and experimentation and have been developed according to the needs of the child at each developmental stage.
- The material makes it possible for the catechist to assume his/her proper “post” as “the useless servant.” (Luke 17:10) This expression indicates that the catechist has a task to perform, a role to fulfill, whose results, however, go much farther from what he/she does, because the only Teacher is Christ.
- The catechists work together in a spirit of unity and harmony, in tune with God’s plan for communion in the history of salvation and in keeping with the themes of unity so strongly expressed in the parables of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1ff) and the True Vine. (John 15: 1ff) They generously offer their talents and experience for the good of all.
- The attitude of the adult has to be marked by humility before the capacities of the child, establishing a right rapport with the child, that is to say, respecting the personality of the child, and waiting for the child to reveal himself/herself.
- The tasks of the catechist include:
- to go deeper into the Christian message through the knowledge of the biblical and liturgical sources and of ongoing living tradition of the church, including the theological, social and ecumenical movements which enliven the church today;
- preparing an environment and maintaining order in that environment (the atrium) so that it fosters concentration, silence and contemplation in both the child and adult;
- preparing the materials oneself as much as possible while collaborating with others in areas that are beyond one’s abilities.
- The reasons why the catechist is requested to make the materials with his/her own hands are:
- to absorb the content more deeply;
- to combat hurry, consumerism and even excessive “efficiency”;
- to pace oneself more to the rhythm of the child and thus also – or so we believe – to the working of the Holy Spirit;
- to try to reach the integration of hand, mind and heart.
- The primary commitment of the catechist is working with the children in the atrium; however, this commitment also leads the catechist to be open to the needs of the catechesis in general and making him/her responsive to other forms of service which can be necessary.
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is also concerned with helping adults open their eyes to the hidden riches of the child, especially to the child’s spiritual wealth, so that adults will be drawn to learn from the child and to serve him/her. The guiding principles in this endeavor are:
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd does not seek success.
- It does not set about to be important or to impress others. (Isaiah 10:33-11:10)
- It is faithful to the spirit of the mustard seed. (Matthew 13: 31)
- It stands in solidarity with the least in the church.
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd especially honors the spiritual values of childhood and wishes to nurture the formation of a consciousness which is oriented to the construction of the history of salvation in justice and solidarity.
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is open to all Christians of various denominations and of different commitments within the church.
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd offers its services to the diocese and therefore works in communion with the bishop.
- Every atrium avails itself of the help of a priest who is attentive to the children, particularly to their religious capacities, celebrates eucharist and sacrament of reconciliation with them, and works in harmony with the spirit of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
- The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has an experimental character and is open to go always deeper into the infinite mystery of God and God’s cosmic covenant with God’s creatures.
(The first draft of these points was done by the Rome Association, May, 1993. They were offered for review to the first International Symposium, October 1994, in Rome. Amendments were proposed at a meeting in Rome, March 30, 1995. The points were then revised by the International Council, October, 1996.)
Translated by Rebekah Rojcewicz
Source: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
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4 Quite early on, the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church’s efforts to make disciples, to help men 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, thus building up the body of Christ.
5 “Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults 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.”
6 While not being formally identified with them, catechesis is built on a certain number of elements of the Church’s pastoral mission which have a catechetical aspect, that prepare for catechesis, or spring from it. They are: the initial proclamation of the Gospel or missionary preaching to arouse faith; examination of the reasons for belief; experience of Christian living; celebration of the sacraments; integration into the ecclesial community; and apostolic and missionary witness.
7 “Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church’s life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God’s plan depend essentially on catechesis.”
8 Periods of renewal in the Church are also intense moments of catechesis. In the great era of the Fathers of the Church, saintly bishops devoted an important part of their ministry to catechesis. St. Cyril of Jerusalem and St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and many other Fathers wrote catechetical works that remain models for us.
9 “The ministry of catechesis draws ever fresh energy from the councils. the Council of Trent is a noteworthy example of this. It gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. It lies at the origin of the Roman Catechism, which is also known by the name of that council and which is a work of the first rank as a summary of Christian teaching…” The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church’s catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo or St. Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous catechisms.
10 It is therefore no surprise that catechesis in the Church has again attracted attention in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope Paul Vl considered the great catechism of modern times. the General Catechetical Directory (1971) the sessions of the Synod of Bishops devoted to evangelization (1974) and catechesis (1977), the apostolic exhortations Evangelii nuntiandi (1975) and Catechesi tradendae (1979), attest to this. the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 asked “that a catechism or compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals be composed” The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, made the Synod’s wish his own, acknowledging that “this desire wholly corresponds to a real need of the universal Church and of the particular Churches.” He set in motion everything needed to carry out the Synod Fathers’ wish.
Extract from Catechism of the Catholic Church