In the Acts of the Apostles, we find the intriguing story of an Ethiopian, minister of the Queen of Candace, who had travelled to Jerusalem to adore the true God. However, this high functionary of the court returned to his country full of uncertainties with respect to the Scriptures, which he meditated on without grasping their true meaning. As he traveled in his carriage, reading the book of the Prophet Isaiah, he paused at this part: “Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people” (Is 53:7-8).
The same Holy Spirit who had inspired his desire to understand the good news about Jesus Christ, also prepared a marvelous response to his questions: He sent Deacon Philip to instruct him in the faith, urging him to approach the carriage. Here, we have the description from the Acts themselves: “Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone instructs me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him” (Acts 8:30-31).
Then, Philip explained the truth about Jesus Christ, and his words opened the soul of the man to the faith so effectively, that he requested baptism at that very moment. After fulfilling his mission, the Holy Spirit transported Philip to evangelize in the city of Azotus, while “the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).
This episode of the early Church shows how God works. He inspires souls, so that some instruct others; consequently, hearts are moved toward the realization of the divine plan. This habitual manner of divine actuation explains the indispensable necessity that the Church has in the preaching of catechesis.
There are those who profess the direct actuation of the Holy Spirit in souls, regardless of doctrinal teaching. Of course, this could happen – and in fact sometimes does, as we read in the lives of saints – but these kinds of extraordinary methods do not abolish the normal ones, which may certainly not be compared, even casually, with other ‘methods’ that are gravely contrary to the Christian religion. As such, it is advantageous that we profoundly study this theme, finding the responses we need in the magisterial doctrine.
Teachings of the Magisterium
I – Catechesis is necessary for the actuation of the Holy Spirit in the Church
The impulses of the Holy Spirit are for the most part felt through the aid and light of the external teaching authority: the Church
These dangers, viz., the confounding of license with liberty, the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject, the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in print to the world, have so wrapped minds in darkness that there is now a greater need of the Church’s teaching office than ever before, lest people become unmindful both of conscience and of duty. […] First, all external guidance is set aside for those souls who are striving after Christian perfection as being superfluous or indeed, not useful in any sense—the contention being that the Holy Spirit pours richer and more abundant graces than formerly upon the souls of the faithful, so that without human intervention He teaches and guides them by some hidden instinct of His own. Yet it is the sign of no small over-confidence to desire to measure and determine the mode of the Divine communication to mankind, since it wholly depends upon His own good pleasure, and He is a most generous dispenser of his own gifts. […] Moreover, as experience shows, these monitions and impulses of the Holy Spirit are for the most part felt through the medium of the aid and light of an external teaching authority. […] This, indeed, belongs to the ordinary law of God’s loving providence that as He has decreed that men for the most part shall be saved by the ministry also of men, so has He wished that those whom He calls to the higher planes of holiness should be led thereto by men; hence St. Chrysostom declares ‘we are taught of God through the instrumentality of men’ (Homily I in Inscrib. Altar). (Leo XIII. Encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, to Cardinal James Gibbons, January 22, 1899)
Catechesis is a work of the Holy Spirit – a work that He alone initiates and sustains in the Church
At the end of this apostolic exhortation, the gaze of my heart turns to Him who is the principle inspiring all catechetical work and all who do this work-the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, the Holy Spirit. In describing the mission that this Spirit would have in the Church, Christ used the significant words: ‘He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you’ (Jn 14:26). And He added: ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…he will declare to you the things that are to come’ (Jn 16:13). The Spirit is thus promised to the Church and to each Christian as a teacher within, who, in the secret of the conscience and the heart, makes one understand what one has heard but was not capable of grasping: ‘Even now the Holy Spirit teaches the faithful,’ said St. Augustine in this regard, ‘in accordance with each one’s spiritual capacity. And he sets their hearts aflame with greater desire according as each one progresses in the charity that makes him love what he already knows and desire what he has yet to know’(In Ioan. Evan.Trac. 97, 1). Furthermore, the Spirit’s mission is also to transform the disciples into witnesses to Christ: ‘He will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses’ (Jn 15:26-27). But this is not all. For St. Paul, who on this matter synthesizes a theology that is latent throughout the New Testament, it is the whole of one’s ‘being a Christian,’ the whole of the Christian life, the new life of the children of God, that constitutes a life in accordance with the Spirit. Only the Spirit enables us to say to God: ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom 8:15). Without the Spirit we cannot say: ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Cor 12:3). From the Spirit come all the charisms that build up the Church, the community of Christians. In keeping with this, St. Paul gives each disciple of Christ the instruction: ‘Be filled with the Spirit’ (Eph 5:18). St. Augustine is very explicit: ‘Both (our believing and our doing good) are ours because of the choice of our will, and yet both are gifts from the Spirit of faith and charity’ (Retract I, 23, 2) Catechesis, which is growth in faith and the maturing of Christian life towards its fullness, is consequently a work of the Holy Spirit, a work that He alone can initiate and sustain in the Church. […] To begin with, it is clear that, when carrying out her mission of giving catechesis, the Church-and also every individual Christian devoting himself to that mission within the Church and in her name- must be very much aware of acting as a living, pliant instrument of the Holy Spirit. To invoke this Spirit constantly, to be in communion with Him, to endeavor to know His authentic inspirations must be the attitude of the teaching Church and of every catechist. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Catechesis Tradendae, no. 72, October 16, 1979)
Catechesis gives growth to the seed of faith sown by the Holy Spirit
The specific aim of catechesis is to develop, with God’s help, an as yet initial faith, and to advance in fullness and to nourish day by day the Christian life of the faithful, young and old. It is in fact a matter of giving growth, at the level of knowledge and in life, to the seed of faith sown by the Holy Spirit with the initial proclamation and effectively transmitted by Baptism. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Catechesis Tradendae, no. 20, October 16, 1979)
The action of the Spirit deepens in catechesis
The action of the Spirit is expressed in the prayer and listening to God’s Word, catechesis deepens, we celebrate the liturgy, is witnessed in life, communicates in education and is shared in the dialogue which seeks to offer all new life brothers who, without merit on our part, receive in the Church as operatives of the first hour. (Third Episcopal Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops. CELAM, Puebla, no. 566, January 28, 1979)
The Church, animated by the Holy Spirit, is sent to be the teacher of the faith
Catechesis is an essentially ecclesial act. The true subject of catechesis is the Church which, continuing the mission of Jesus the Master and, therefore animated by the Holy Spirit, is sent to be the teacher of the faith. The Church imitates the Mother of the Lord in treasuring the Gospel in her heart. She proclaims it, celebrates it, lives it, and she transmits it in catechesis to all those who have decided to follow Jesus Christ. […]. She proclaims it, celebrates it, lives it, and she transmits it in catechesis to all those who have decided to follow Jesus Christ. (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, no. 78-79, August 25, 1997)
The Spirit causes the Church to grow and sustains her in proclaiming the Gospel
In virtue of his universal salvific will, God has ordained that Revelation should be transmitted to all peoples and to all generations and should remain always in its entirety. To fulfil this divine plan, Jesus Christ founded the Church, built on the Apostles. He gave them the Holy Spirit from the Father and sent them to preach the Gospel to the whole world. […] The Spirit causes her to grow constantly in her understanding of the Gospel, prompts her and sustains the task of proclaiming the Gospel in every corner of the world. (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, no. 42. 43, August 25, 1997)
II –Pastors cannot forego catechesis, confiding that the faithful will learn of the mysteries of the faith by themselves
It is a grave duty of pastors to take care of catechesis
It is a proper and grave duty especially of pastors of souls to take care of the catechesis of the Christian people so that the living faith of the faithful becomes manifest and active through doctrinal instruction and the experience of Christian life. (Code of Canon Law, Can. 773)
The first duty of all who are entrusted with government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in the things of God
We by no means wish to conclude that a perverse will and unbridled conduct may not be joined with a knowledge of religion. Would to God that facts did not too abundantly prove the contrary! But We do maintain that the will cannot be upright nor the conduct good when the mind is shrouded in the darkness of crass ignorance. A man who walks with open eyes may, indeed, turn aside from the right path, but a blind man is in much more imminent danger of wandering away. Furthermore, there is always some hope for a reform of perverse conduct so long as the light of faith is not entirely extinguished; but if lack of faith is added to depraved morality because of ignorance, the evil hardly admits of remedy, and the road to ruin lies open. How many and how grave are the consequences of ignorance in matters of religion! And on the other hand, how necessary and how beneficial is religious instruction! It is indeed vain to expect a fulfillment of the duties of a Christian by one who does not even know them. We must now consider upon whom rests the obligation to dissipate this most pernicious ignorance and to impart in its stead the knowledge that is wholly indispensable. There can be no doubt, Venerable Brethren, that this most important duty rests upon all who are pastors of souls. On them, by command of Christ, rest the obligations of knowing and of feeding the flocks committed to their care; and to feed implies, first of all, to teach. ‘I will give you pastors according to my own heart,’ God promised through Jeremias, ‘and they shall feed you with knowledge and doctrine’ (Jer 3:15). Hence the Apostle Paul said: ‘Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel’ (1 Cor 1:17), thereby indicating that the first duty of all those who are entrusted in any way with the government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in the things of God. (Pius X. Encyclical Acerbo nimis, no. 4, April 15, 1905)
The Christian has faith, but requires teaching to develop it and make it bear fruit
It follows, too, that if faith languishes in our days, if among large numbers it has almost vanished, the reason is that the duty of catechetical teaching is either fulfilled very superficially or altogether neglected. It will not do to say, in excuse, that faith is a free gift of God bestowed upon each one at Baptism. True enough, when we are baptized in Christ, the habit of faith is given, but this most divine seed, if left entirely to itself, by its own power, so to speak, is not like the mustard seed which ‘grows up. . . and puts out great branches.’ Man has the faculty of understanding at his birth, but he also has need of his mother’s word to awaken it, as it were, and to make it active. So too, the Christian, born again of water and the Holy Spirit, has faith within him, but he requires the word of the teaching Church to nourish and develop it and to make it bear fruit. (Pius X. Encyclical Acerbo nimis, no. 16, April 15, 1905)
A great loss of souls is due to ignorance of divine things
We pray and entreat you to reflect on the great loss of souls due solely to ignorance of divine things. You have doubtless accomplished many useful and most praiseworthy works in your respective dioceses for the good of the flock entrusted to your care, but before all else, and with all possible zeal and diligence and care, see to it and urge on others that the knowledge of Christian doctrine pervades and imbues fully and deeply the minds of all. Here, using the words of the Apostle Peter, We say, ‘According to the gift that each has received, administer it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God’ (1Pt 4:10). (Pius X. Encyclical Acerbo nimis, no. 27, April 15, 1905)
The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks
The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks, for, before Christ ascended to His Father after His resurrection, He gave the apostles a final command – to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that He had commanded. He thus entrusted them with the mission and power to proclaim to humanity what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they had looked upon and touched with their hands, concerning the Word of Life. He also entrusted them with the mission and power to explain with authority what He had taught them, His words and actions, His signs and commandments. And He gave them the Spirit to fulfill this mission. Very soon the name of catechesis was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in His name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ. The Church has not ceased to devote her energy to this task. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Catechesis Tradendae, no. 1, October 16, 1979)
Catechesis: a sacred duty and an inalienable right
To begin with, it is clear that the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right. On the one hand, it is certainly a duty springing from a command given by the Lord and resting above all on those who in the new covenant receive the call to the ministry of being pastors. On the other hand, one can likewise speak of a right: from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely the reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life. (John Paul II. Apostolic Exhortation Catechesis Tradendae, no. 14, October 16, 1979)
Christians have a right to a Christian education, to strive for the growth of the Mystical Body
Since all Christians have become by rebirth of water and the Holy Spirit a new creature so that they should be called and should be children of God, they have a right to a Christian education. A Christian education does not merely strive for the maturing of a human person as just now described, but has as its principal purpose this goal: that the baptized, while they are gradually introduced the knowledge of the mystery of salvation, become ever more aware of the gift of Faith they have received, and that they learn in addition how to worship God the Father in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23) especially in liturgical action, and be conformed in their personal lives according to the new man created in justice and holiness of truth (Eph 4:22-24); also that they develop into perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13) and strive for the growth of the Mystical Body. […] Wherefore this sacred synod recalls to pastors of souls their most serious obligation to see to it that all the faithful, but especially the youth who are the hope of the Church, enjoy this Christian education. (Vatican Council II. Declaration Gravissimum educationis, no. 2, October 28, 1965)
The faith, illumined by teaching, is an effective force in the lives of men
Bishops should take pains that catechetical instruction-which is intended to make the faith, as illumined by teaching, a vital, explicit and effective force in the lives of men-be given with sedulous care to both children and adolescents, youths and adults. In this instruction a suitable arrangement should be observed as well as a method suited to the matter that is being treated and to the character, ability, age, and circumstances of the life of the students. Finally, they should see to it that this instruction is based on Sacred Scripture, tradition, the liturgy, magisterium, and life of the Church. Moreover, they should take care that catechists be properly trained for their function so that they will be thoroughly acquainted with the doctrine of the Church and will have both a theoretical and a practical knowledge of the laws of psychology and of pedagogical methods. (Vatican Council II. Decree Christus Dominus, Ch. 2, no. 14, October 28, 1965)
The multitudes must be drawn to diligently learn the precepts of religion
Further, by assiduous teaching and exhortation, the multitude must be drawn to learn diligently the precepts of religion; for which purpose we earnestly advise that by opportune writings and sermons they be taught the elements of those sacred truths in which Christian philosophy is contained. The result of this will be that the minds of men will be made sound by instruction, and will be protected against many forms of error and inducements to wickedness, especially in the present unbounded freedom of writing and insatiable eagerness for learning. […] By uniting the efforts of both clergy and laity, strive, venerable brethren, to make men thoroughly know and love the Church. (Leo XIII. Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884)
Catechesis must lead to the gradual grasping of the whole truth about the divine plan
Who has encountered Christ desires to know him as much as possible, as well as to know the plan of the Father which he revealed. Knowledge of the faith (fides quae) is required by adherence to the faith (fides qua). Even in the human order the love which one person has for another causes that person to wish to know the other all the more. Catechesis, must, therefore, lead to ‘the gradual grasping of the whole truth about the divine plan’, by introducing the disciples of Jesus to a knowledge of Tradition and of Scripture, which is ‘the sublime science of Christ’. (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, no. 85, August 25, 1997)
III – Catecheses may not be compared to Yoga or Zen, which are in reality practices contrary to religion
Compared to the supreme good of knowing Christ, all is waste
More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:8-11)
The danger of fusing Christian meditation with eastern methods of ‘meditation’: abandoning the idea of the One and Triune God
With the present diffusion of eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian. Proposals in this direction are numerous and radical to a greater or lesser extent. Some use eastern methods solely as a psycho-physical preparation for a truly Christian contemplation; others go further and, using different techniques, try to generate spiritual experiences similar to those described in the writings of certain Catholic mystics. Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory, on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality. To this end, they make use of a ‘negative theology,’ which transcends every affirmation seeking to express what God is and denies that the things of this world can offer traces of the infinity of God. Thus they propose abandoning not only meditation on the salvific works accomplished in history by the God of the Old and New Covenant, but also the very idea of the One and Triune God, who is Love, in favor of an immersion ‘in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity.’ These and similar proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with eastern techniques need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thorough-going examination so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian Meditation, no. 12,October 15, 1989)
Catechesis is an adequate response to the growing influence of sects and new religious movements
In many ways, the sects and the new religious movements with their growing influence are a challenge to the Church. An adequate response to this challenge needs to include an initial proclamation of the Gospel to individuals as well as a catechesis of the Church’s members, both of which relate to local experiences and desires, and concentrate on fundamental truths rather than secondary theories. (Synod of Bishops. Special assembly for Oceania, Lineamenta, Ch. 2, no. 24, September 26, 1997)
To sow confusion and uncertainty among Catholics: amalgamating Christian elements with others from Eastern religions and psychological techniques
Another phenomenon of our contemporary culture is that, while continuing to advance the secularization of many aspects of life, one perceives a new demand for spirituality; expression of the religious condition of man, and sign of his quest for answers to the crisis of values in Western society. To this promising panorama we need to respond, offering with fervor to the men and women of our time the riches of which we are the ministers and dispensers, thus contributing to satiate them: ‘In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it’ (Veritatis Splendor, no. 1). Keep in mind, however, that there are no lack of deviations that have led to Gnostic or pseudo-religious sects and movements, forming a far-reaching cultural fashion that is at times echoed in many sectors of society, and has influence even within Catholic circles. Therefore, some of them, with a syncretistic perspective, amalgamate Christian and Biblical elements with others drawn from Eastern religions and philosophies, from magic and psychological techniques. This expansion of sects and new religious groups attracting many of the faithful, and sowing confusion and uncertainty among Catholics, is a motive of pastoral concern. In this sphere, it is necessary to thoroughly analyze the problem and find pastoral guidelines to deal with it. […] Besides thinking about the negative influence of these religious fundamentalist groups, attention should be given to counteracting the causes that drive many faithful to leave the Church. (John Paul II. Address to the Bishops of the Argentinean Episcopal Conference on their ad limina visit, no. 5, February 7, 1995)
Syncretism in looking for life from the side of death
A good number of Christians go to Mass, in reality, not seeking to find the life of God in the sacrament of the Eucharist, but for other completely human intentions, and social reasons. And in the darkest moments of their lives, they go to pagan sacrifices or black magic to find life and peace there. These people demonstrate, then, a religious syncretism, looking for life from the side of death. (48th International Eucharistic Congress. Speech of Msgr. Jean Baptiste Kpiele Somé, Ch. 3, no. 2, October 11, 2004)
Regarding all these branches of knowledge we must fear and shun the fellowship of demons
All arts of this sort, therefore, are either nullities, or are part of a guilty superstition, springing out of a baleful fellowship between men and devils, and are to be utterly repudiated and avoided by the Christian as the covenants of a false and treacherous friendship. ‘Not as if the idol were anything,’ says the apostle; ‘but because the things which they sacrifice they sacrifice to devils and not to God; and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils’ (1 Cor 10:19-20). Now what the apostle has said about idols and the sacrifices offered in their honor, that we ought to feel in regard to all fancied signs which lead either to the worship of idols, or to worshipping creation or its parts instead of God, or which are connected with attention to medicinal charms and other observances for these are not appointed by God as the public means of promoting love towards God and our neighbor, but they waste the hearts of wretched men in private and selfish strivings after temporal things. Accordingly, in regard to all these branches of knowledge, we must fear and shun the fellowship of demons, who, with the Devil their prince, strive only to shut and bar the door against our return. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Ch. 23, no. 36)
IV – The essential objective of catechesis is the transmission of the mystery of Christ. Its importance in the Church cannot be underestimated
Man’s whole salvation depends upon the knowledge of divine truths
Whereas man’s whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary that besides philosophical science built up by reason, there should be a sacred science learned through revelation. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, I, q. 1, a.1)
Catechesis: We receive the doctrine that Jesus Christ taught and committed to his Apostles from the Holy Catholic Church
What is Christian Doctrine?
Christian doctrine is the doctrine which Jesus Christ our Lord taught us to show us the way of salvation.
Is it necessary to learn the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ?
It certainly is necessary to learn the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ, and those who fail to do so are guilty of a grave breach of duty.
Are parents and guardians bound to send their children and those dependent on them to catechism?
Parents and guardians are bound to see that their children And dependents learn Christian Doctrine, and they are guilty before God if they neglect this duty.
From whom are we to receive and learn Christian Doctrine?
We are to receive and learn Christian Doctrine from the Holy Catholic Church.
How are we certain that the Christian Doctrine which we receive from the Holy Catholic Church is really true?
We are certain that the doctrine which we receive from the Holy Catholic Church is true, because Jesus Christ, the divine Author of this doctrine, committed it through His Apostles to the Church, which He founded and made the infallible teacher of all men, promising her His divine assistance until the end of time. (Catechism of Saint Pius X, no. 4-8)
Catechesis seeks to solidify and mature the first adherence to Christ
All evangelizing activity is understood as promoting communion with Jesus Christ. Starting with the ‘initial’ conversion of a person to the Lord, moved by the Holy Spirit through the primary proclamation of the Gospel, catechesis seeks to solidify and mature this first adherence. It proposes to help those who have just converted ‘to know better this Jesus to whom he has entrusted himself: to know his ‘mystery’, the kingdom of God proclaimed by him, the requirements and comments contained in his Gospel message, and the paths that he has laid down for anyone who wishes to follow him’. (Congregation for the Clergy. General Directory for Catechesis, no. 80, August 25, 1997)
The primary and essential object of catechesis is the mystery of Christ
The primary and essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St. Paul and also to contemporary theology, ‘the mystery of Christ.’ Catechizing is in a way to lead a person to study this mystery in all its dimensions. […] Christocentricity in catechesis also means the intention to transmit not one’s own teaching or that of some other master, but the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Truth that He communicates or, to put it more precisely, the Truth that He is. We must therefore say that in catechesis it is Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God, who is taught – everything else is taught with reference to Him – and it is Christ alone who teaches – anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ’s spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his lips. Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus. He will not seek to keep directed towards himself and his personal opinions and attitudes the attention and the consent of the mind and heart of the person he is catechizing. Above all, he will not try to inculcate his personal opinions and options as if they expressed Christ’s teaching and the lessons of His life. […] This teaching is not a body of abstract truths. It is the communication of the living mystery of God. The Person teaching it in the Gospel is altogether superior in excellence to the ‘masters’ in Israel, and the nature of His doctrine surpasses theirs in every way because of the unique link between what He says, what He does and what He is. (John Paul II. Apostolic exhortation Catechesis Tradendae, nos. 5-7, October 16, 1979)
The words of revelation clarify the mystery contained in them
In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (cf. Eph 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (cf. Eph 2:18; 2Pet 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15; 1Tim 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (cf. Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15) and lives among them (cf. Bar 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself. This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. (Vatican Council II. Dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum, Ch. 1, no. 2, November 18, 1965)
Christ commands the disciples to preach
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. (Mk 28:19-20)
Our Savior wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth
This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:3-4)
Faith comes from what is heard
But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?’ Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:16-18)
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