The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Recovering Nature and Building Culture in Catechesis

Authored by R. Jared Staudt in Issue #7.2 of Catechetical Review

It is not a secret that knowledge of the faith continues to decline. It is tempting to insist simply upon teaching more doctrine, but this overlooks a more fundamental problem. What is catechesis really about? It is not simply knowledge of the faith but knowledge of the living God, a knowledge that includes and goes beyond simply the intellect, as it must include a complete transformation of life. We are not simply missing knowledge of the faith but the entire structure of life and culture that should undergird and support this knowledge.

The Cultural Foundation for Catechesis

Grace builds upon nature, according to the scholastic adage. By “nature,” we mean the natural foundation of human life—our ability to think, make free choices, and order our lives through good habits. Even more foundationally, nature refers the basic soil of human potential that God uses to draw forth his divine fruit. But how would we describe the “state of nature” today? It is not a stretch to say that the soil of human life has worn thin through the saturation of technology and a fundamental change in the way we understand and relate to one another, mediated by a screen with less interpersonal contact. Catechesis has to compensate for these challenges, seeking to build up a more robust community to provide a stronger cultural context to receive the faith.

Just as grace builds upon nature, so faith builds upon culture. In fact, Pope St. John Paul II declared faith to be “incomplete” without a culture to live it out faithfully.[i] Culture is a shared way of life, one that is necessary because Christians need to live out their faith in communion with others. As we know from our own experience, it can be quite difficult to live the Christian life when you are pushing against the cultural currents. Perhaps our religious education has fallen short because we have not attended closely enough to the cultural dynamics of faith. Right thinking, healthy living, rightly ordered work, and robust community all contribute to building up the soil needed to support the Christian life.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!

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 [email protected]

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Where There Is Great Love, There Are Miracles
By Dr. James Pauley
Free In Death Comes for the Archbishop , Willa Cather’s sweeping novel describing the evangelistic efforts of the first archbishop of Santa Fe, the author vividly describes the archbishop’s reaction upon hearing of the miraculous vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Marveling at the loving tenderness of the Blessed Mother to St. Juan Diego and his people,... Read more
The Miracles of Jesus
By Dr. John Bergsma
Free One of the most characteristic features of Jesus’ earthly ministry was his performance of miracles, particularly healings and exorcisms. A typical description of this can be found in Mark 1:34: “he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.” Jesus’ ability to perform supernatural works made him one of the first “... Read more
In the Form of a Sacrificial Meal: The Sacrifice of Calvary and the Sacrifice of the Mass
By Dr. Denis McNamara
For an average Catholic, even one who speaks piously of the Mass as the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary, the link between Christ’s dramatic death on the Cross can seem remote from the sacred liturgy’s formal ritual. The notion of the Mass as a sacred meal comes from its roots in the Last Supper, and the Eucharistic Prayer conspicuously... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now