Christ Lives in Me: Christocentric Catechesis and the Meaning of Christian Discipleship, Part 1

Authored by Dr. Donald Asci in Issue #5.2 of The Catechetical Review

According to St. John Paul II, the Christocentricity of catechesis primarily refers to how catechesis focuses on the actions and teachings of “the Person of Jesus” and how catechesis leads to Christian discipleship in the form of “the sequela Christi.”[2] Insofar as we find the living Person of Jesus at the heart of catechesis, we must focus not only on the teachings of Jesus but also on the actions of Jesus as a Person, both of which serve as the basis of authentic Christian discipleship. The way in which the Person of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, and the actions of Jesus blend together in the context of the following of Jesus corresponds to “the mystery of Christ” and how it is the “primary and essential object of catechesis.” In turn, catechesis directs the believer “to study this Mystery in all its dimensions” [3] as a mystery that we profess, celebrate, and live, which gives us, for example, diverse parts of our one Catechism.

St. John Paul II further clarifies that “Christocentricity in catechesis also means the intention to transmit not one’s own teaching or that of some other master, but the teaching of Jesus Christ” to the extent that each of us “is Christ’s spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his lips.”[4] In a certain respect, therefore, we can measure our own work on the basis of whether what people hear from us corresponds to what Jesus himself would say in an encounter with them. Fortunately, we have many examples from the Gospels that recount what Jesus did say to those that he encountered; so, we do have a clear standard by which to measure our own words. At the same time, the numerous teachings of Jesus can scatter our thoughts in many directions as we focus on the finer points of what he says in each particular situation.

For this reason, I suggest that we should primarily think of our own efforts at Christocentric catechesis in terms of Jesus’s original proclamation of the Gospel as he opens his public ministry: the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent, believe, and come follow me. These four reference points are the so-called four pillars of Gospel-living and encapsulate the essence of the one message that Jesus repeats in various ways to all those he encounters.

Combining these two fundamental meanings of Christocentric catechesis (the centrality of Jesus and the importance of his words), the success of our work can be in large part measured by how it brings us and those we teach into a personal encounter with Jesus and also directs us to the four pillars of Gospel-living that provide the proper context of discipleship found in Jesus’s original call to follow him. Let’s consider the first two of the four pillars.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

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