Monday, 29 October 2012

Far be it from me ....

... to differ from the Holy Father and the Synod of Bishops, but a thought has occurred to me since posting on the homily at the Mass celebrated to close the Synod. and on the Propositions of the Synod.

In his homily, Pope Benedict referred to the need for appropriate catechesis to accompany preparation for the sacraments of initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist.
It has been reaffirmed that appropriate catechesis must accompany preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
And among the propositions that the Synod presented to the Pope, Proposition 38 refers to the need for a suitable mystagogical approach to the sacraments of initiation:

Therefore we propose that the traditional process of Christian initiation, that has often become simply a proximate preparation for the sacraments, be everywhere considered in a catechumenal prospective, giving more relevance to permanent mystagogy, and thus becoming true initiation to Christian life through the sacraments. (cf. General Directory of Catechesis, 91)
According to the General Directory for Catechesis, the terms "catechesis" and " mystagogy" have a very well defined meaning, and are distinct from an idea of "primary proclamation". Paragraph 61, for example, says:

61. Primary proclamation is addressed to non-believers and those living in religious indifference. Its functions are to proclaim the Gospel and to call to conversion. Catechesis, "distinct from the primary proclamation of the Gospel", promotes and matures initial conversion, educates the convert in the faith and incorporates him into the Christian community. The relationship between these two forms of the ministry of the word is, therefore, a relationship of complementary distinction. Primary proclamation, which every Christian is called to perform, is part of that "Go" which Jesus imposes on his disciples: it implies, therefore, a going-out, a haste, a message. Catechesis, however, starts with the condition indicated by Jesus himself: "whosoever believes", whosoever converts, whosoever decides. Both activities are essential and mutually complementary: go and welcome, proclaim and educate, call and incorporate.
A distinction is also drawn between "initiatory catechesis" and a catechesis at the service of an ongoing faith formation (cf nn.67-70).

There strikes me as being a particular situation for a new evangelisation with regard to the relationship of "primary proclamation" and "initiatory catechesis". Precisely where the situation of a first evangelisation might expect a "primary proclamation" to have prepared the way for the more systematic nature of "catechesis" in the strict sense, the "primary proclamation" to Christians in those regions in need of a new evangelisation has not done so.

It seems to me part of the particularity of the situation of the new evangelisation that preparation for the sacraments of initiation should therefore be associated with a renewal of "primary proclamation", of initial conversion to Christ, and not just with a renewal of catechesis strictly so-called.

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