One of the preoccupations of the catechetical movement since the Second Vatican Council has been for the Church’s faith to be seen as clearly ‘relevant’; catechesis must be seen to address our ‘real needs’. And one might think that the urgency with which the Church reiterates today the need for a ‘new evangelisation’ is a further reinforcement of such a message. The Church, it might be thought, is asking us to focus upon understanding what our culture and society today most need; and to do this she must seek ‘new methods’ and must do so with a new ardour and commitment. There is, of course, a sense in which we can affirm this desire for ‘relevance’. And it is also of course true that catechesis must always seek to announce the Gospel in a manner that engages our deepest needs. Nonetheless, the call to ‘relevance’ can easily be misdirected as a request that the Church’s attention focus upon relevance for me. I want the Church to concentrate upon me - upon my wishes, my aspirations, my hopes and my desires. Let me put the point in a way that sounds less self-centred: we understand the renewal of catechesis to be a call to focus upon us – upon our community and its wishes, desires and aspirations. Translated in this way, then, the call to a ‘Catechesis of Relevance’ means, in effect, ‘I want the Catechism to be about me and about our community.’ If this is how we understand the task of catechesis today, then the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be found to be frustratingly disappointing. For the Catechism is primary about God. ‘God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself’ opens the first paragraph of the text and the closing paragraphs climax upon the glory of the God who will be ‘all in all’. God is the alpha and the omega of the Catechism. He is the beginning, the end, and the centre.
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