Catechetical Methodology: Teaching Faithfully

Authored by Marianne Cuthbertson in Issue #32.2 of The Sower

What does it mean in practice to teach faithfully?

This series is about catechetical methods and how these methods are chosen ‘in the light of the pedagogy of God’ (GDC 148). So far in this series we have covered methods for teaching gracefully, prayerfully, biblically, liturgically, holistically, personally and attractively. By ‘methods’ we do not mean a fixed schema such as the ecclesial method or the method of shared praxis but a host of small practical ways of contributing to a session to enhance its unity with God’s own way of ‘treating us as sons’.

The GDC, as we know, sums up the need for faithfulness in the useful double principle of ‘fidelity to God and fidelity to man’(GDC 145). Fidelity to the Church is a perfect expression of this since it is in the Church that we find both God and man in the mystical body of Christ. The incarnation reminds us that as Christ is fully God and fully man, so our catechesis is to fully faithful to God and fully faithful to man, not a little bit faithful to each. It is useful to keep the distinction in mind, of fidelity to God on the one hand and fidelity to man on the other, in order to ensure that both are properly served because we each have a tendency to consider one more fully than the other. Fidelity to God means being faithful to all that God wants to reveal to his people. Fidelity to man means delivering the message in such a way that people can receive it, receive Christ.

Towards which half of the distinction are you inclined? Let us look at two examples to help identify the two tendencies. Consider a priest giving a faith-filled talk to a parish gathering for families - he spoke at such length that children started wandering around, then babies began crying, mothers began feeding them, fathers began finding games for the children to play quietly at the side of the room and still the priest continued, determined that the fullness of the message of the gospel would be expounded. By the time he had finished most of the people had left their seats empty in front of him. The example is an extreme one but a true story of fidelity to God - with no consideration of the audience.

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