Pope St. John Paul II described Mary as a “living Catechism.”[i] What did he mean by this phrase? How might this description help us to understand more about the pedagogy of the faith that is enshrined in the pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
From this identification of Our Lady with the notion of a catechism we can clearly expect there to be an intimate relationship between the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Mary. What is this relationship? We go to the Catechism, of course, to find the definitive and authoritative teaching of the Church on Mary. We go there to learn how to teach about Mary and how to proclaim her place in salvation history and in the lives of each of the members of the Church.
Calling Mary a “living Catechism” suggests something more, however: that, as we read about Mary in the Catechism, we will be learning not just about her but also about the contents of the Catechism as a whole, because she is herself a kind of catechism. As we learn about her from the Catechism, we will be, at the same time, learning the faith from her. She is the living Catechism; she is, in a sense, the book we learn from.
[In the October issue of The Catechetical Review, Dr. Willey will be contributing a longer article focused on the issue’s theme of “The Liturgical Encounter.” This series on The Catechism & the New Evangelization will then resume with the January 2016 issue.]