Religious Formation: What Do We Teach?
As we reflect on Religious Formation we come to realize that this is not a concern for children or youth alone. It is in fact part of being a Christian, a disciple of Jesus no matter what our age or circumstances. As has often been said and as our Catholic Church asserts – Religious Formation is a life-long project for every person.
In addition to this, Religious Formation is not the task or the call of a few. It does not belong to the priest or the religious. Nor is it only the task of those who have volunteered to be catechists or religious education teachers. Religious Formation is an element of sharing our faith and so it is the task and the call of the whole community. We are in this together and together we take responsibility to promote and assist each other as we grow in faith and come to understand who we are as disciples. It takes a community of faith to nurture and grow disciples for a lifetime.
All this formation for a lifetime – what is it all about? What do we teach? The heart of Christian faith is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the core and center of our faith. Many things are part of our faith, related to it and helpful for living it. Not the scriptures, nor any dogmas or doctrines, not any moral teachings or commandments, not the sacraments or even the Church itself. These are important, but they are not the core. The heart of our faith is Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear about this when it tells us: “At the heart of... [religious formation] we find a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son from [God].” In that one statement from our Church’s catechism we find an expression of all that lies at the foundation of our faith. What is our faith, our belief?
We believe in Jesus of Nazareth, the historical Jesus that we hear of in the Gospels. We are disciples of this Jesus who was born of Mary and whose message and mission took him throughout Galilee. It was this Jesus who taught his disciples and continues to teach us as his followers today.
His message announced the reign of God and taught that love was more than an emotion. It is what moves His mission and ours – to love all, every single person, no matter who they are. The love that he lived and taught is love in action. It is reaching out to those most vulnerable and in need. It is a reflection of God’s love that is unconditional. It reaches those who cannot reach us, the marginalized, the outcasts, those who have been left out or even excluded. It is a welcoming love for all. This is the Jesus who shows us the Way.
We also believe in Jesus, the Christ of faith, Son of God and Second Person of the Trinity. In him we have the promise of fullness of life, eternal life. The Paschal Mystery, Jesus, life, death and resurrection reveals God’s love as a promise of eternal life to us all. We are disciples of Jesus Christ and we live in the hope of God’s promise to us all. As well, we announce this by our living faith to the world in which we live and to all its peoples.
At the heart of Religious Formation, we share our living faith in a Person,
Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God.