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Preparatory Catechesis for Meeting of Families

"The Family, the First and Principal Transmitter of the Faith"

VALENCIA, Spain, MAY 01, 2006 (Zenit) - In preparation for the 5th World Meeting of Families, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Archdiocese of Valencia have elaborated a catechetical program for all parishes worldwide.

The catechesis, in nine chapters, addresses important topics of the Catholic Church in a reflection on the essence of the Christian family, the values of marriage and the transmission of the faith. The meeting will be held July 1-9 in Valencia, Spain.

The following are the titles of the catecheses.

Introduction: Human Love Cannot Exist if it Seeks to Detach Itself From the Cross

1. The Family, the First and Principal Transmitter of the Faith
2. God One and Triune
3. The Person of Jesus Christ, the Center and Synthesis of the Christian Faith

4. The Holy Spirit and the Church
5. The Sacraments, Special Moments for the Transmission of the Faith
6. The Commandments of God's Law

7. Sunday: the Eucharist and Other Expressions
8. Popular Piety
9. The Blessed Virgin Mary

Here is in full the first preparatory catechesis.

* * *

The Family, the First and Principal Transmitter of the Faith

1. Opening hymn.

2. Recitation of the Our Father.

3. A reading from the Bible: Matthew 11:25-30.

4. A reading from the teaching of the Church:

The eternal design to save men in and through Christ was revealed and fully realized by the Word incarnate, especially through the paschal ministry of his death, resurrection, ascension and sending the Holy Spirit. In Christ, therefore, the revelation of the mystery of God was perfect and definitive in such a way that there will be no other revelation. "In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word-and he has no more to say" (St. John of the Cross).

This revelation was entrusted to the Church, which is always aided by the Holy Spirit so that it will bring God's salvation to all men of all times and cultures in a true and indefinable way. The Church has not ceased -- and will never cease -- to proclaim this mystery, especially through the ministry of the Pope and the bishops, who are the ones principally responsible. Every Christian faithful also takes part in this responsibility by virtue of the prophetic mission he received from Christ in baptism.

When this proclamation is accepted, it brings about conversion and faith. This is always a gratuitous gift of God, but it requires a human response and cooperation with openness and acceptance. Ordinarily, faith is not possible without an explicit proclamation of the contents revealed. Only in exceptional cases God directly instills faith in an adult without a previous proclamation of his mystery. The sequence is usually: explicit proclamation of the mystery of God, acceptance of this proclamation, conversion and profession of faith, and baptism.

The Christian family, through the sacrament of marriage and the baptism of the parents and the children, is a "domestic church" and shares in this mission. As the generator of children, the family becomes the first and principal institution entrusted with transmitting the saving mystery of God to them. For this reason, parents are the authentic transmitters of the faith they profess to their children. The great saints were usually born into deeply Christian families. It is a fact that in countries where faith was persecuted for a long time, it was preserved and transmitted through the ministry of the parents.

The family is not a self-sufficient or autonomous institution in transmitting the faith to its children. It needs to be in close relation with the parish and the school their children attend, especially if it is Catholic school. The parish catechesis and the religion class in the educational center complement informal family catechesis, which must also be formal at times.

In the earliest times of Christianity, the Christian family already appeared to be the transmitter of the parents' faith, as manifested in the practice of bringing the children to baptism and the acceptance of this proposal by the bishop in charge of the community. The parents' witness played a decisive role, to the point that the family became the place par excellence where the Church transmitted the faith. This is what happens in the mission countries, whereas in other nations with a great Christian tradition, the family has often lost its protagonist role, with the resulting decline in faith and religious practice.

The recovery of a vigorous, evangelizing Church passes by way of the restoration of the family as the basic institution for transmitting the faith. Therefore, in the countries mentioned above the Christian family has a special field of action today, especially with regard to other non-Christian families or those that have drawn away from religious practice. Grandparents, children and other Christian family members are urged to transmit the faith to their parents and relatives.

5. Reflections of the leader.

6. Dialogue:

Do married people today realize that the family is the first and principal transmitter of the faith, or do they ignore or relinquish this mission?

Are Christian families aware that the fulfillment of their mission requires ongoing contact and dialogue with educators and the parish? In what ways can this dialogue, or its absence, be seen?

How can the family proclaim Jesus Christ to their children today?

7. Commitments.

8. Recitation of the Hail Mary and invocation: "Regina familiae. Ora pro nobis."

9. Prayer for the family: O God, you have given Christian families the honor and responsibility to transmit the faith to their children. Grant them the strength to carry out this task faithfully which you have entrusted to them. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

10. Closing hymn.

© Copyright 2006 -- Pontifical Council for the Family and Archdiocese of Valencia 2005 [adapted]


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