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The National Directory for Catechesis

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The National Directoryfor Catechesis

An Introduction for

Parish Catechists


Catholic School Teachers

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Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

MT 28:19-20a

A Document for Our Times

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  • Renewal of catechesis called for by Vatican II

  • General Catechetical Directory: 1971

  • Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: 1972

  • On Evangelization in the Modern World: 1976

  • U.S. National Catechetical Directory: 1979

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1987

  • General Directory for Catechesis: 1998

  • U.S. National Directory for Catechesis: 2005

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Goals of the New Directory

  • To provide basic theological and pastoral principles for catechesis in the U.S.

  • To offer guidelines for the application of these principles that will continue the renewal of catechesis in the U.S.

  • To set for the nature, purpose, object, tasks, basic content, and various methodologies of catechesis

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Relationship to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • The Catechism provides the content for catechesis.

  • The National Directory for Catechesis (NDC) focuses on the context, meaning, and methodologies for catechesis.

  • The NDC also provides a concise summary of the catechesis of the Catechism.

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General Overview of the NDC

  • The Context and Meaning of Catechesis

    (Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2)

  • The Content and Method of Catechesis (Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6)

  • The People Who Do Catechesis

    (Chapters 7, 8)

  • Organization and Resources for Catechesis

    (Chapters 9, 10)

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Chapter 1:Proclaiming the Gospel in the United States

  • Wide variety of ethnic cultures and religious practices across the United States

  • The general characteristics of U.S. culture:

    freedom, pragmatism, science/technology, globalization, and mobility

  • The important influence and role of the Catholic family in faith formation

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Demographics of U.S. Catholics

  • Population: more than 62 million

  • Better educated and more affluent than at Vatican II

  • Ethnic balance similar to that of US.

    (Exceptions: slightly fewer African-American; more Hispanic)

  • More ethnically diverse than Church in any other country

  • Significant differences in attitudes among generations

  • Half million Eastern Rite Catholics in U.S.

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Pastoral Life in U.S. Church

  • More Catholics, fewer priests

  • Number of parishes without resident priests has increased 11% since 1980.

  • Size of parish populations growing

  • Fewer young people in Catholic schools; more in parish religious education

  • One third of all parishes minister to more than one ethnic group.

  • One third of parishes are rural.

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For Discussion

What are three cultural issues or influences in your parish or school?

What effect do these issues have on how you catechize?

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Signs of Vitality in Catechesis in the U.S.

  • Strong published catechetical programs

  • Increasing ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity

  • Greater emphasis catechist formation

  • Growth of lay ministry

  • Wide implementation of RCIA

  • Stronger sense of Church’s mission in catechesis

  • Stronger efforts in adult faith formation

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More Signs of Vitality

  • Strengthening of Youth Ministry

  • Outreach of Catholic schools to the poor and disadvantaged

  • Growing emphasis on Church’s social justice teaching

  • Attention to communication technology in catechesis

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Chapter 2: Catechesis and Evangelization

  • Evangelization is the call of every Christian.

  • Evangelization to the world and to members of the Church as well

  • A “New Evangelization”:

    • Called for by John Paul II

    • Addressed to the Church herself

      • To the baptized never effectively evangelized

      • To those whose faith needs refreshing

      • To those who are alienated

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Discipleship: The Goal of Catechesis

Catechesis aims to bring about in the believer an ever more mature faith in Jesus Christ, a deeper knowledge and love of his person and message, and a firm commitment to follow him.

NDC 1.19A

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Catechesis as a Moment in the Process of Evangelization

  • Inspired by baptismal catechumenate

  • Source of catechesis: Scripture and Tradition

  • Object: intimate relationship with Jesus Christ

  • Tasks:

    • Knowledge of the Faith

    • Participation in liturgical and sacramental life

    • Moral formation

    • Learning to pray

    • Preparation and participation in community

    • Developing a missionary spirit

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Inculturating the Message

  • Inculturation both adapts the message to each culture and attempts to correct the culture where necessary.

  • Catechesis must be inculturated so that it will take root effectively.

  • Inculturation allows faith to connect with life so that people will be disposed to receive Jesus.

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For Discussion

What would make your catechesis more evangelizing?

What is one way that you have tried to inculturate the Gospel message?

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3. The Faith of the Church

  • Chapter 3 summarizes the criteria for authentic presentation of the Gospel message.

  • Scripture, the CCC, the General Directory for Catechesis, and the NDC are complementary sources for the message.

  • Scripture guides catechesis.

  • The NDC looks to the CCC as the norm for catechetical content.

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Authentic Presentation of the Faith

  • Trinitarian, yet centered on Christ

  • Presented as Good News of salvation and liberation

  • Comes from and leads to the Church

  • Presents the message within the context of its relationship to salvation history

  • Comprehensive, yet recognizes the hierarchy of truths

  • Inculturates the message

  • Teaches the dignity of the human person

  • Provides learners with a common language of faith

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4. Divine and Human Methodology

God’s methodology:

  • Engages persons in light of their circumstances and capacity

  • Realized gradually

  • Fully achieved in Jesus Christ

  • Told in Scripture and Tradition

  • Source and model of the pedagogy of the truth

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Human Methodologies:The Ways We Come to Faith

  • Human experience

  • Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ

  • Living in a Christian community

  • Living in a Christian family

  • The witness of catechists

  • Learning by heart

  • Practicing the Christian way of life

  • Apprenticing oneself to faithful Christians

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5. Catechesis in a Worshipping Community

  • Intrinsically linked with liturgy and sacraments: precedes liturgy and springs from it

  • Places Eucharist at the center

  • Incorporates liturgical and personal prayer

  • Helps to make the signs, symbols, and actions of the liturgy both known and loved

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Sacramental Catechesis

  • Appropriate to the age level and maturity of those being catechized

  • Involves the whole community of faith

  • Involves parents in the children’s formation

  • Integrates with a comprehensive catechetical program

  • Focuses on the symbols, rituals, and prayers in each rite

  • Offers an experience of mystagogy

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Art, Music, Time, and Space in Sacramental Catechesis

  • Acknowledges God’s presence in time

  • Teaches religious customs and traditions

  • Uses Christian art to catechize

  • Teaches the significance of Church architecture and furnishings

  • Introduces learners to Christian music from the tradition

  • Incorporates sacramentals and popular piety

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6. Morality: Catechesis for Life in Christ

Catholic Morality:

  • Rooted in the dignity of the human person

  • Respects every human as a free and responsible agent

  • Recognizes that humanity is capable of sin

    Moral Catechesis:

  • Presents principles and practice

  • Integrates principles with lived experience

  • Demonstrates the social consequences of the Gospel

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Social Justice

  • Imbedded in the Gospel message

  • A body of doctrine and a living tradition

  • A constitutive element of the Magisterium

  • Individual responsibility for social injustice

  • Obligation of the Church to train members to apply Christian principles to contemporary problems

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Content of Moral Catechesis

  • Ten Commandments and Beatitudes as reference points for moral behavior

  • Commandments and Beatitudes to be learned by heart

  • Includes Scripture stories, lives of saints, spiritual and corporal works of mercy, virtues, capital sins

  • NDC provides guidance for teaching each Commandment or Beatitude

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For Discussion

What and who has influenced your faith the most?

What insights did you gain from chapters 4, 5, and 6 about how to catechize others?

What area of catechesis seems most challenging to you?

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7. Catechizing the People of God

  • Growth in faith is related to human growth.

  • Catechesis is lifelong.

  • Adult catechesis is the norm.

  • Adolescent catechesis promotes active discipleship and spiritual growth.

  • The role of the family is crucial to faith development.

  • Structured programs support the family, not vice versa.

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Catechesis of Children

  • School-aged children require a structured parish or school catechetical program.

  • Home-based programs must be coordinated with the parish.

  • Programs must promote respect for pluralism.

  • People with disabilities must be included.

  • Catechesis on ecumenism and religious life must be included, especially regarding Judaism.

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9. Norms for Catechists and Religion Teachers

  • Catechists and teachers of religion must be trained through diocesan-approved programs.

  • Requirements for catechists:

    • A love of God and the Church

    • A faithful practice of the Christian life

    • Personal prayer life

    • A missionary zeal to proclaim the Good News

    • Active participation in a parish, including attendance at Sunday Eucharist

    • A devotion to Mary and the Eucharist

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Conclusions about the NDC

  • Provides the fundamental theological and pastoral principles for catechesis in the U.S.

  • A source of inspiration for the “new evangelization” and the renewal of catechesis

  • Guided by the Holy Spirit and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the first and model disciple of Jesus Christ

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