The Use of the Catechism in the Family

Authored by Stratford Caldecott in Issue #34.3 of The Sower

'The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the Sacraments of marriage, the family is the 'domestic Church' where God's children learn to pray 'as the Church', and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church's living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit' (CCC 2685).

A few paragraphs further on, at 2688, the Catechism adds: 'The catechesis of children, young people and adults aims at teaching them to meditate on the word of God in personal prayer and internalising it at all times in order to bear fruit in a new life.'

This is perhaps sufficient explanation for starting an article on family catechesis with the section that deals with prayer, rather than with the Creed, the sacraments or morality. The purpose of catechesis, according to the Catechism itself, is to establish Christian meditation and prayer as the foundation for a new life in Christ. A family is where that prayer is normally first learnt.

Of course, through prayer one will come to a deeper understanding of the Creed, the sacraments and Christian morality. But unless the teaching of these things is rooted in 'the life of the new heart' (2697), we are all building on sand, or casting seeds among the rocks and thorns.

Let us start, then, with prayer. The fourth Part of the Catechism, on prayer, contains two Sections, of which the second is a detailed exposition of the Lord's Prayer itself. We will come back to that in a moment. The first Section is called 'Prayer in the Christian Life', and it starts by explaining the nature of prayer as a 'covenant relationship between God and man in Christ' (2564). It then describes the history of this relationship, culminating in the prayer of Jesus (2607-15) and of Mary (2617-19), leading to the formulation of the normative types of prayer in the early Church (2623-43). This tradition is then explored more deeply in Chapter Two of that Section.

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