THE CRAFT OF CATECHESIS
by P. Willey, P. de Cointet & B. Morgan
Ignatius, 2008, 158pp, $35.95, ISBN: 978-1-58617-221-3)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Craft of Catechesis is a vital book for catechists because it explains and explores the strengths of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the modern reliable reference for the faith.
The Catechism is understood correctly as a proclamation of the faith of the Church for the first century of the third millennium.
The Catechism was crafted carefully by bishops from many different cultures to represent faithfully the 2000-year-old tradition of the Church. It builds on the insights of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in their lucid Introduction.
The authors are among the most distinguished academic catechists in the Church and in The Craft they wish to bring the Catechism alive for catechists working at the "coal face" in parishes, schools and RCIA groups in the English-speaking world.
Informing the Catechism is the reality that our Catholic faith has four basic dimensions: belief, worship, way of life and service, and that belief, the accurate and faithful teachings of the Magisterium, matters. Moreover, the Church exists solely, as Benedict XVI stressed in many of his addresses, for the eternal salvation of individual souls "one by one".
The authors of The Craft of Catechesis remind us that the very word "catechesis" derives from a Greek word meaning "to re-echo".
They believe "it is structured, organised and written to support a deeply contemplative appreciation of the Magisterium". It is carefully reasoned and yet, like the faith itself, cannot be grasped fully without "a gaze of faith".
The authors show how the Catechism is focussed upon four fundamental pillars:
• God, the unity of three Divine Persons and His gracious plan of creation and salvation.
• The Person of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
• The Paschal mystery – the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus – the work of our redemption, handed on in the Church through the work of the Holy Spirit.
• The human person, each of us, created and graced and called to eternal salvation.
It is worth stressing that the Catechism is not founded on the four pillars of popular theological fads, eco-spirituality, global warming or theorising around social justice. These issues have their place, but are not stressed or implied as the fundamental pillars of the Catholic faith.
Whatever the subject being taught, the matter should be related to one or more of these realities, especially on Jesus Christ, God becoming Man.
The Craft of Catechesis complements the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a profound book which makes demands on the reader but should be in every Catholic tertiary and monastic house library and be readily available to tertiary students preparing to proclaim the faith as teachers in Catholic primary and secondary schools.