THE HEART OF CATECHESIS
From the very beginning, the Church's missionary mandate has been to make disciples of all nations. This mandate was given to the Apostles directly from Christ. This same mission continues today to be the most central task of the Church. In Evangelii nuyntiandi Pope Paul VI says, "Evangelization is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize" (#14). Within this great vocation of evangelization, we find the sacred task of catechesis.
In this very first apostolic exhortation, Catechesi treadendae, Blessed Pope Paul II gave the Church a very clear instruction on the task of catechesis in our time. The heart of catechesis is to lead and guide the youth not only in instruction of the faith, but also, and most importantly, into a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Blessed Pope John Paul II teaches us, "the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy with Jesus Christ" (#5).
The whole goal of youth ministry is not to help youth to "like going to church." The whole goal is to lead youth into a life-long, personal relationship with the real person - Jesus Christ. Every task of youth ministry should have as its center Jesus Christ. Every retreat, trip, activity and conversation should point to and flow from the heart of Jesus.
SYSTEMATIC AND COMPLETE CATECHESIS
To serve the goal of leading youth into a relationship with Jesus Christ, we must present the faith in a systematic way. We take as our model of teaching the model Jesus used in his own ministry. He did not reveal the truth all at once as to overwhelm his disciples and those he encouraged along his journey. He taught gradually and in stages. He slowly and methodically revealed the truth over time.
As Christ taught, so should we. Our catechesis must be systematic. Systematic catechesis requires a structured plan and a goal. It must never be haphazard and impoverished. Our catechesis must also be complete. We must never leave out parts of the faith out of fear, laziness or lack of knowledge. It is the sacred duty of all catechists to pass on every part of the faith, not just those parts that are comfortable or straightforward. Simply, catechesis must make sense, and gradually, one step at a time, lead the youth into full knowledge of the faith and a deeper relationship with Christ.
CATECHESIS AND CULTURE
Discovering new ways to instruct the youth in the faith is critical in today's culture. Effective catechesis, especially to youth, engages their culture. It is important for catechists to be familiar with current cultural trends and events to help make the Gospel message accessible to the youth. The goal of catechesis and culture is not only to engage culture, but also to ultimately transform it.
Although the truths of faith are unchanging, the culture in which the youth live is constantly changing. This rapid change presents a challenge to those who work with youth to continually find new ways to communicate the Gospel message. Engaging culture, specifically in the form of technology, allows for the youth to translate the faith into a language they understand. It is important to remember that the integrity of the faith must never be compromised in order to engage culture.
CATECHESIS AND EDGE
The EDGE ministry resources aim to present the truths of the Catholic faith in a hands-on and relevant format. The format of the EDGE ministry resources are designed to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional, educational and social needs of middle school youth. The catechetical plan set by the suggested EDGE curriculum is designed to provide a complete and systematic approach to instructing middle school youth in their faith. EDGE resources also engage current middle school culture and provide the youth tools to grow in holiness and their relationship with Jesus Christ.
GO, MAKE DISCIPLES
Today, more than any other time in the Church, it is imperative that those called to pass on the truths of the faith, especially to the youth, renew his or her own commitment to the mission of making disciples. The task of catechesis requires both humility and boldness. We at Life Teen are committed to praying for you and offering our support. It is an honor to serve in the vineyard of youth ministry with you. We pray that together we can more effectively reach and form middle school youth into disciples of Christ.
Now go, and make disciples!