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Catechesis and Culture: Forming a Way of Life
Culture exercises immense influence in how we live. Culture shapes our relationships, work, leisure, and ultimately our convictions about what is most important to us. Catechizing for cultural impact involves the extensive effort, as Pope Francis explains, of “translating the gift of God into [one’s] own life.”[i] Catechesis aims at concretizing a person’s faith convictions into a way of life, without which these convictions will remain incomplete. As Pope St. John Paul II made clear: “The synthesis between culture and faith is not only a demand of culture, but also of faith… A faith that does not become culture is not fully accepted, not entirely thought out, not faithfully lived.”[ii] Drawing upon the need for this synthesis of faith and culture, I would like to suggest four ways in which catechesis can help form a Christian way of life. This can happen by: 1) inviting a response or choice to live differently, 2) forming patterns of prayer, 3) helping those being catechized to develop virtuous habits to live out the faith, and 4) looking to the saints and members of our own communities for inspiration and direction. In the catechumenal model, we can see the impetus for Christians to form a new way of life in the redditio, which follows the imparting of the Creed (the traditio) in the catechumenal process. The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) recognizes that the redditio consists not only in the memorization and recitation of the Creed, but overflows into “the response of the subject during the catechetical journey and subsequently in life.”[iii] In response to the gift of faith, one must render one’s entire life back to God, ordering all things to him.