Catechetical Methodology: Explaining Liturgical Signs

Authored by Dr. James Pauley in Issue #29.3 of The Sower

Catechists need to teach the language of the signs used in the sacraments and show how these unveil the inner reality of God’s actions.

The more Catholics are catechetically assisted to have a genuine understanding of the dynamics of the sacramental life, the more meaningful and ‘active’ will their sacramental participation be. And, the more the Catholic faithful participate in the sacraments fully conscious of what is taking place, the more they will be ‘plugged into’ the sacramental power to radically live the life of Christ in the world today. Using dramatic language, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the power of sacramental grace present through the Eucharist is not a force which may be blandly domesticated but instead has the potential to transfigure the world:

‘The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduceswithin creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of ‘nuclear fission,’ to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor. 15:28).’[i]

And yet, so many Catholics in the pew seem to be unaware of the true importance of the part they play in the sacramental life. This is, I believe, the liturgical-catechetical crisis of our time.

Taking our cue from the General Directory for Catechesis, we can say that a key principle for re-invigorating sacramental living is a catechetical methodology which regularly ‘unpacks’ liturgical signs in the catechetical process.[ii]

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