The Integrity of the Gospel Message

Authored by Jason Gale in Issue #35.1 of The Sower

The initial proclamation of the Gospel stands at the heart of the Church’s mission to evangelize and sanctify. This first proclamation or in most cases, the re-proclamation, usually takes on a very simple format. In the beginning, God had a loving plan that was soon destroyed by sin. Sin plagued all of humanity, but God out of love and faithfulness, sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from sin and restore the relationship with the Father. We participate in this saving plan in and through the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, particularly in the profession of faith, reception of the sacraments, living the moral life, and daily prayer. This example is the basic Gospel message in very simplistic form, but as we can see, it is all there. The General Directory for Catechesis states, “Catechesis starts out with a simple proposition of the integral structure of the Christian message, and proceeds to explain it in a manner adapted to the capacity of those being catechized.”[1]

The General Directory for Catechesis makes two further points regarding catechesis and the integrity of this message. First, it states that catechesis “‘must take diligent care faithfully to present the entire treasure of the Christian message.’ This is accomplished, gradually, by following the example of the divine pedagogy with which God revealed himself progressively and gradually.”[2] The internal integrity of the message must be maintained at all times in catechesis. This is called “intensive integrity”.[3] The word “intensive” refers to the “growing in degree of” the Gospel message. As it grows, the content of the faith must be present in its entirety. Pope John Paul II wrote, “Thus, no true catechist can lawfully, on his own initiative, make a selection of what he considers important in the deposit of faith as opposed to what he considers unimportant, so as to teach the one and reject the other.”[4]

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