What is Catechesis ?
September 7, 2014
What is Catechesis?
Is Catechesis important?
A couple of questions have been asked already and I haven’t even begun this post. The answers to these questions may be obvious to some, but for others they are very important ; especially if you claim the name “Catholic” or are just interested in the Church at all. It is so important to know what it is to be Catholic and what we as Catholics actually believe. The best way to learn is through what we call “catechesis“. The word “ catechesis ” actually means to impart knowledge, or to teach by imparting knowledge. The traditional way of imparting knowledge is through a question and answer format, originally done through word of mouth by first Christ and than the Apostles. As the Apostle to the Gentiles St Paul said to the Romans in the 10 th Chapter of his Epistle “ Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ.”
Now, for those who may not know, we as Catholics did not just make-up catechesis and catechisms. In fact, catechesis takes its roots from Judaism. The Hebrews taught catechesis in the home where the father would primarily teach the Jewish religion to his children. The Hebrews also taught religion in school. Thirdly, the Hebrews would learn about their faith in the synagogues and the Temple by the priests and Levites and rabbi’s. Now, does any of this sound familiar? We still have a similar system today ; however, we need to look at the order again. Where we as Catholics are failing, yes I said failing, is in teaching or catechizing our children in the home ; especially the fathers! It is vitally important for parents to be THE PRIMARY EDUCATORS of CATHOLIC EDUCATION to their children. As the child grows, so do the lessons on catechesis. A child’s understanding of their faith must grow in keeping with their secular education. Otherwise the faith, as we have all seen from the emptying Churches, will certainly be abandoned as a remnant of their childhood.
Where do we find the teachings of the Church? I thought you would never ask… Here on this website is a good beginning, but I would suggest that every family own at least one good Church approved Catechism. My favourite Catechism is The Catechism of the Council of Trent . It is easy to read and very straight forward, and it leaves no room for ambiguity or confusion. Some catechisms do lead to confusion, so stick with the good ones, I will list a few here.Please don’t just go and buy any book that says catechism on it, some of them are just downright terrible. Any books at the Marian Catechist store are very good especially if authored by our founder, Servant of God Father John Hardon. He actually has a question and answer Catholic Catechism that is excellent to start with, and can be kept in your pocket or lunch box to be read on breaks or lunch… wink, wink! Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan is also an excellent Catechism and gets into more intermediate Catechesis. It is a great read and re-read, mine is highlighted from front to back! The one that my wife reads, but I would also highly recommend, especially for those that aren’t big on reading is My Catholic Faith . This is especially good to use with children and converts to the religion, it is a wonderful Catechism. Of course, last but not least is the official Catechism of the Catholic Church . It can also be found online at the Vatican website here http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM. Some of these books are not available on the Branches website yet, but we do have them at the store, so please come in and take a look!!!
Why is Catechesis so important in these times? Once again, glad you asked. Because the younger generation hasn’t been properly catechized at home first, at school second , or at Church in many instances. The flock has scattered, and is leaving or has left the Church en-masse! That being said their are still small faithful pockets where Catechesis thrives, but we need much more of that. That is where the lay catechist comes in, like you and I. I can’t and I won’t get into exactly how things went very wrong in many places throughout the world, especially here in Canada and catechesis changed from God centred to self centered, but somewhere that shift did indeed happen. Now, we must focus on the solution ; what we need to do together is get back down to the Truth of Jesus Christ and His One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church!!! As our International director at the Marian Catechist Apostolate His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke says, “ catechesis is a school of faith that is a deepening of Christian life in all its aspects: knowledge , prayer and worship, and witness.” Cardinal Burke also states , ” the object of catechesis, communion with our Lord Jesus Christ, and, therefore to present the Catholic faith in it entirety, especially the entire truth of the mystery of Christ.” Did the Cardinal say the entire truth? I think he did say the entire truth! I couldn’t have stated it better myself. We need the Truth and the whole uncorrupted Truth, not just the teachings on heaven. The World needs the Truth, it is starving for the Truth. The world thinks that Oprah Winfrey is a spiritual teacher, come on people! People are seeking for the truth in all the wrong places, we have it right here in the Catholic Church. We need to share the Truth with others and be that arrow or sign pointing to Jesus Christ and His One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church!!!
….. So please, parents and fathers of young children, it is never to early to start catechizing your children. Secondly, for those of you who are teachers, it is vitally important when teaching the Catholic Faith to children or students of any age , that your teaching is sound and faithful. Thirdly I will address the Pastors……… please know your faith inside and out, all of it, so that you can properly hand it on to the next generation of future catechists and maybe a future parent, priest, bishop or who knows, maybe oneday we will have a Pope from Canada :-).
If you have any questions about the Church and Her teachings on Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, please leave a comment or send me an email. One more thing, don’t forget to subscribe to www.canadiancatechist.com .
What Jesus teaches us in the 5th Chapter of St Matthew is the Truth. Here is some great Catechesis from the Master Catechist Himself. Here are a few verses that I hope will inspire you like they do to me. So get out there and share your faith with the world ! “ You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.  You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.
 So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”
May God Bless us and protect us from the world , the devil and ourselves,