Religious Education (photocopy)

Introduction: Religious Education

We are happy to present to you a whole issue devoted to religious education. Many of our European colleagues appear here—some for the first time. Permit me simply to highlight some of the ample fare that awaits our readers.

Hans Urs von Balthasar asks the question: should faith or theology be the basis of catechesis? Key to his response is this: "Any catechesis . . . would be on the wrong track from the outset if it were to start with the faith experience of Christians in the primitive Church as a psychological fact and not with the content of faith."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, writes about "the four classical and master components of catechesis" (the Apostles Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer). He speaks warmly of the Roman Catechism and states categorically: "I do not see why anyone wants simply to abandon this simple structure, just as correct theologically as it is pedagogically."

Karl Lehmann's point is this: "In the faith of the Bible, redemption . . . is transmitted rather as the living 'remembrance' (anamnesis, memoria) of God's saving deeds performed in history and accessible to faith's present moment only through word and sacrament." It is in this context of remembering that memorization finds its meaning and measure.

Guy Bedouelle traces for us the history of the catechism from Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose, and Augustine through Abelard and Gerson to the profusion of catechisms in the 16th century. He does so to prepare for a "rebirth" of the catechism in our day.

Marguerite Léna has written a haunting lyrical piece which should be read by every catechist—stressing as it does "the Spirit placed on that Word like a tongue of fire."

Kevin Ryan and Frederick Ellrod give a straightforward exposition of the strengths and weaknesses of the three most popular approaches to moral education today and then add a brief look at the more traditional approach. What is their conclusion? None of the three is "sufficiently valid to be accepted as a model for secular moral education," much less for catechesis. The good points of each might be added to the traditional approach as a better model for religious education.

Kirk Kilpatrick has written a fascinating piece about "Christianity and Its Psychological Imitations." He shows how our ancestors, both Christian and non-Christian, were better psychologists than our contemporaries because they understood that moral argument consists of grasping their imagination, and they know how to do it. This article is a chapter of his forthcoming book, Psychological Seduction (Thomas Nelson Publishes, pub. date, August 1983).

It is our hope that this issue will be widely circulated among bishops, priests, sisters, teachers and especially parents—all of whom are called to the task of catechesis. Happy reading!