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The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Go Therefore and Make Disciples of All Nations
The Church’s mission of evangelization is catechesis


The essential mission and chief activity of the Church, proper to her vocation is evangelization. The Church, as Christ's mystical body, willingly endures to live out her mission of proclaiming the good news to all people in whose name the mission was given in order to build up the kingdom of God. The Church knows this through the words spoken by Jesus Christ, "I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God."[1] The Good News of the kingdom of God is essentially Christ's task, mediated in the Church through Christ for all men, the salvation of the world. The Church as Christ's body, in striving to reveal Christ by building herself up in a community of faith, is challenged by her mission of proclaiming the Good News, or Gospel to all people, to unite and transform this community into the new life of Christ's body, the Church, the visible sacrament of salvation.[2] The Council Fathers from Vatican II described the Church as the instrument of salvation for the unity of the entire world.[3] As the universal sacrament of salvation, the Church seeks to carry out her salvific mission to the whole world, affecting it so that it might come to be for all men.[4] She seeks to fulfill the Father's plans to unite all men to Christ, to be one in Him.[5]

The Church's mission is the same today as it was with the first Apostles, a task that serves the Church throughout all time, to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and giving witness to and teaching in the name of Jesus.[6] The Apostles were the first witnesses of Jesus Christ and thus the first to be sent to preach the Good News of the kingdom of God and carry out the Church's mission, the salvation of men through Jesus Christ.[7] All baptized members of Christ share in this mission, to proclaim the Good News of Christ to the world. It is in Jesus Christ who is the center of all content of evangelization, that "the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God's grace and mercy."[8] To be a Christian is essentially one who believes and lives the faith of Jesus Christ as first witnessed and taught by the Apostles. The transmission of the Gospel depends upon evangelization and so, "all Christians are called to this witness, and in this way they can be real evangelizers."[9]

The mission of the Church is evangelization. The Church is a permanent sign to the world of the distant and yet luminous presence of Christ, awaiting his glorious return and continuing the mission of Christ to evangelize through each member to strengthen and give life to the whole.[10] Evangelization is the preaching of Jesus Christ's love for all humanity, independent of culture, our love for him and in turn showing love for one another, strengthened by prayer, adoration and worship, and given sacramental life through the Eucharist.[11] In transmitting the Good News to all humanity, there is a specific activity of the Church's mission of evangelization: "catechesis is one of these moments - a very remarkable one - in the whole process of evangelization."[12] Catechesis intrinsically falls under the umbrella of evangelization and draws from the word of God, the deposit of Catholic faith: sacred Scripture and Tradition.[13] Catechesis has a two-fold objective in light of one's conversion to the proclamation of the Gospel, "maturing the initial faith and of educating the disciple of Christ by means of a deeper and a more systematic knowledge of the person and the message of our Lord Jesus Christ."[14] By the power of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism, catechesis seeks to engender in the daily life of the Christian a growth in the knowledge and mysteries of the faith, to follow Christ in love and grow in the fullness of his life and communion in the Church. In his apostolic exhortation, Catechesi Tradentae, Pope John Paul II describes the aim of catechesis as:

Within the whole process of evangelization, the aim of catechesis is to be the teaching and maturation stage, that is to say, the period in which the Christian, having accepted by faith the person of Jesus Christ as the one Lord and having give Him complete adherence by sincere conversion of heart, endeavors 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 promises contained in His Gospel message, and the oaths that he has laid down for anyone who wishes to follow Him.[15]






The Church realizes that to succeed in her mission of evangelization, "the ministry of catechesis appears, then, as a fundamental ecclesial service for the realization of the apostolic missionary mandate of Jesus."[16]

by Rev. William W. Hennecke


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Footnotes:
[1] Lk 4:43
[2] Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 23.
[3] Lumen Gentium, 1.
[4] Guadium et Spes, 45.
[5] Eph 1:5.
[6] Pope John Paul II, Catechesi Tradentae, 10.
[7]Rom 1:16.
[8] Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 27.
[9] 21.
[10] 15.
[11] 28.
[12] Pope John Paul II, Catechesi Tradentae, 18.
[13] USCCB, General Directory for Catechesis (Washington, D.C.: USCCB, 1998), 94.
[14] 19.
[15] 20.
[16] USCCB, General Directory for Catechesis (Washington, D.C.: USCCB, 1998), 59.

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