As candidates prepare for the reception of the sacraments during Holy week, we are reminded again of the importance of Catechesis. While many children cram and try to pass their tests, a brief examination of many adults, supposedly, adults in the faith reveals that, a lot is amiss, that the faith of many remains at the infantile level, and the knowledge base of many no more than that of ten year old kids. This is because many people see catechesis as religious education for children or people preparing for the reception of the sacrament. Yet, Catechesis is important for every Christian that wants to grow in the faith. True catechesis leads to maturation in the faith and also puts the person in communion with Christ, the Saviour. Marthaler describes catechesis as the process whereby a person is initiated into the faith and life of the Church through instruction. It has also been described  as the process of transmitting the gospel message  as the church has received, understands, celebrates, lives and communicates it in many If this is the case, every catholic ought to take catechesis seriously, but this is far from the truth. In fact, many Catholics know little about their faith and do next to nothing about how to mature in the faith, no matter many are nominal Christians and quickly fall away when confronted with other persuasive information.

Catechesis has been differentiated from the initial proclamation of the Gospel that is often referred to as evangelization, but Catechesis is very basic to the development of people in the faith, hence we can talk of initial catechesis, which helps to cultivate the faith leading people to a fruitful profession of faith, then nurtures it and prepares people to be nourished at the table of the Lord.  There is sacramental catechesis, which is tailored toward the reception of the sacraments. Here, a thorough presentation of the doctrine relating to each sacrament is offered to candidates such that they are helped to understand what they are to receive, and also help to celebrate and live them out in the community of the Church. This is closely related to what is called liturgical catechesis, which functions to prepare for the reception of the different sacrament but especially participation of the faithful in the Eucharist.

Another form of catechesis is perfective catechesis which involves the study, and utilization of Sacred Scripture, which is geared to lead the faithful deeper into the life of Christ, such that the individual is able to respond more positively to the call of Christ.

There is therefore, no doubt that Catechesis is a lifelong process, and one would always benefit from appropriate catechesis. For instance, in some quarters, catechesis beyond the reception of the sacraments is understood as on-going formation in the faith or adult faith formation. Indeed, Catechesis is closely bound up with the totality of the Christian life, what we believe, how we worship, how we live and how we pray. In this regard, the General Catechetical Directory, talks about knowledge of the faith, formation based on faith knowledge, commitment to the Lord flowing from knowledge and formation and finally commitment to mission. It is thus, necessary, for pastors of souls to provide an enabling environment for all to grow in their faith. Catechesis, must put the individual in touch with the person of Christ. In other words, apart from preparing individuals for the reception of the sacrament, Catechesis aims to help Christians enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus and gain better understanding. Full immersion into the word of God is essential. No wonder Bishop Jude Arogundade of Ondo Diocese insists that formation coupled with the right information will lead to transformation or true education.

The way forward then is for pastors of souls to put in place a programme of on-going formation where people can participate at their own level in their journey of faith. This may entail such things as Bible study based on age groupings, and also groups and organization with focus on mission to the poor, the disadvantaged or marginalized so that what has been internalized can be put into practice. Some of the recent Popes embraced catechesis because of the role it can play in the faith formation. Jon Paul II was noted for his Wednesday Catechesis, a tradition to Benedict XVI continued and Pope Francis has also embraced it by never allowing an opportunity to pass without turning it into a teaching and learning moment.  Indeed, knowledge and commitment are achievable, but they must be desired and cultivated.

Catechesis is good for the Church because it produces committed Christians who understand the faith, celebrate it and share it with others.  With adequate and appropriate Catechesis, danger of falling away from the faith will be reduced or eliminated and the faith of the church will blossom once again.

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