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Catechizing for Conversion

30 Aug

I often hear complaints that many Catholics are ignorant of the faith. We rightly critique the various factors that contribute to this phenomenon, from defective catechetical materials to uninspired teaching and a lack of parental support. There seems to be plenty of blame to go around.

While all of the above may be true, it’s nonetheless fair to say that the problem is not so much a failure of catechesis so much as it’s a lack of evangelization (and thus a lack of faith).

Catechesis is about helping a person mature in the faith. In other words, it’s about “educating the true disciple of Christ by means of a deeper and more systematic knowledge of the Person and the message of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Pope John Paul II, On Catechesis in Our Time, no. 19). 

Notice that the Holy Father assumes here a living faith, that the person being catechized is already a disciple. In practice, that’s an assumption we cannot afford to make, especially in today’s culture. The Holy Father admitted as much, and also said that catechesis not only must nourish and teach the faith, but also unceasingly arouse it.

While all of this is part of  ”evangelization” in a broad sense, arousing one to a personal commitment to Christ is evangelization in the stricter sense, and that’s the sort of evangelization that I think is often lacking, and when it is, catechesis just doesn’t stick. Continue reading