Catechesi Tradendae: On Catechesis in Our Time (Part 5)

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We have been looking at the beautiful post-synodal apostolic exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (On Catechesis in Our Time) by Pope St. John Paul II in our last several posts. Today we continue our look at this document, examining the seventh section: “How to Impart Catechesis”.

We have established, in many ways and contexts, why catechesis is important. It is something that was lost for a long time, something that was downplayed or disregarded in some senses. And in places where the faith was imparted, in some cases there was no personal element; one must have a relationship with the Risen Lord, and catechesis is how this is done. You come to love someone best by truly getting to know them.

The Holy Father considers the diversity of methods that are necessary in imparting catechesis. “The age and the intellectual development of Christians, their degree of ecclesial and spiritual maturity and many other personal circumstances demand that catechesis should adopt widely differing methods for the attainment of its specific aim: education in the faith.” (51) We know that it is of fundamental importance that people are catechized. We know that the faith must be imparted, that people must be evangelized so that they come to know and love God and desire to serve him. Because this is so important, we must be sure to use appropriate methods to do so.

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Most of the readers of this blog are catechists, DREs, Faith Formation directors, or teachers. Whether in a school, a parish, or at home, you know that pedagogical principles help you to instruct people at different ages and grade levels. This is one of the factors to be considered under diversity of methods.

Catechetical series are always developed with pedagogical considerations in mind. Some achieve pedagogical appropriateness more effectively than others, but it is always a factor. There can be different approaches to the same grade level, of course, and this can even be seen in Ignatius Press’ two catechetical series: Faith and Life (www.faithandlifeseries.com) and Image of God (www.imageofgodseries.com). This is also a prime consideration in the NEW catechetical series that is being developed by Ignatius Press and the Augustine Institute: Word of Life (www.wordoflifeseries.org). We will look more at this new series in an upcoming post on this blog.

Beyond these considerations, the Holy Father cautions against mixing catechetical teaching with “overt or masked ideological views, especially political and social ones, or with personal political opinions.” (52) Catechesis can become “distorted,” he says, when such trends or personal views are infused into the imparting of catechesis. “It is on the basis of revelation that catechesis will try to set its course, revelation as transmitted by the universal magisterium of the Church, in its solemn or ordinary form.” (52) The truth of revelation certainly includes moral elements, which have application in the social and political realm; but “[C]atechesis goes beyond every form of formalistic moralism, although it will include true Christian moral teaching. Chiefly, it goes beyond any kind of temporal, social or political ‘messianism.’ It seeks to arrive at man’s innermost being.” (52)

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Another consideration in the imparting of catechesis is the role that difference of cultures plays. Because catechesis, and evangelization in general, can be said to be called to bring the Gospel into the very heart of cultures, “catechesis will seek to know these cultures and their essential components; it will learn their most significant expressions; it will respect their particular values and riches.” (53) The faith must not be altered or diminished for the sake of inculturation; rather, the culture must be enriched by the faith. Catechesis should “help them to bring forth from their own living tradition original expressions of Christian life, celebration and thought.” (53) That being said, we must insist that the Gospel be transmitted in the context of the culture in which it originated, that of Jesus and the biblical world.

The pope also considers the role that memorization can play in effective catechesis. This is a somewhat controversial question, as the pedagogical role of memorization has been fiercely debated for some time. Coming from a mainly oral tradition, as Christian catechesis does, memorization has historically played a crucial role in catechesis. John Paul recognizes that sometimes memorization can lend itself to insufficient assimilation, “reducing all knowledge to formulas that are repeated without being properly understood.” (55) But he calls for a restoration of “a judicious balance between reflection and spontaneity, between dialogue and silence, between written work and memory work.” Just because something is memorized does not mean it should only be memorized. In fact, it certainly shouldn’t! A formula can be memorized to facilitate assimilation and deeper reflection. Being able to recall that “God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven” allows one to reflect on that important fact at any time. This is certainly laudable!

Now that we have looked at the imparting of catechesis, next time we will discuss part eight: “The Joy of Faith in a Troubled World,” and will conclude with how “The Task Concerns Us All.”

Catechesi Tradendae: On Catechesis in Our Time (Part 4)

Today we continue our look at Pope St. John Paul II’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, on Catechesis in Our Time. We now move to the fifth section of the document, titled: “Everybody Needs to be Catechized.”

The Holy Father begins this section of the document with a reflection on “The Importance of Children and the Young.” He makes special reference to the theme designated by Pope St. Paul VI for the fourth general assembly of the synod of Bishops, which was “Catechesis in our time, with special reference to the catechesis of children and young people.” With a rapid increase in world population, and thus a rapid increase in the number of children throughout the world, the importance of catechizing the young as they prepare for their adult future is very important. “And there is more than just the factor numbers,” the pope writes: “recent events, as well as the daily news, tell us that, although this countless multitude of young people is here and there dominated by uncertainty and fear, seduced by the escapism of indifference or drugs, or tempted by nihilism and violence, nevertheless it constitutes in its major part the great force that amid many hazards is set on building the civilization of the future.” (35)

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The question arises: how are we to reveal Jesus Christ to children and young people, not just in a fleeting encounter, but growing in deep relationship with Him? The Holy Father then addresses separately the question in regard to infants, children, adolescents, the young, the handicapped, young people without religious support, adults, and quasi-catechumens. Each of these has a well-elaborated reflection on catechizing that given group, and should be read in full.

One common question that can arise when considering the matter of effective catechesis is how to catechize. How can we communicate these truths? The Holy Father looks into this question in the next section, titled “Some Ways and Mean of Catechesis.”

“From the oral teaching by the apostles and the letters circulating among the churches down to the most modern means,” he writes, “catechesis has not ceased to look for the most suitable ways and means for its mission, with active participation of the communities and at the urging of the pastors. This effort must continue.” (46) The advent of new means of communication during the 19th and 20th centuries has drastically changed our ability to spread the faith. Even just taking one prime example, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen used all available media — books, newspaper, radio, and television — and spread the Gospel more effectively than anyone since St. Paul! In our own day, Bishop Robert Barron uses YouTube, podcasts, books, television, and more to preach the Truth.

There are various places, occasions and gatherings, according to the pope, which “gain from being centered on some judiciously chosen theme based on the life of Christ, of the Blessed Virgin or of the saints.” (47) These can be pilgrimages, conferences, traditional missions, Bible study groups, and much more. The Holy Father implores and exhorts those involved in such groups to not allow them “to lack serious study of Christian doctrine.” (47)

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Additionally, the “homily takes up again the journey of faith put forward by catechesis, and brings it to its natural fulfillment. At the same time it encourages the Lord’s disciples to begin anew each day their spiritual journey in truth, adoration and thanksgiving.” (48) The proper role of the homily is evangelical and catechetical, as “Preaching, centered upon the Bible texts, must then in its own way make it possible to familiarize the faithful with the whole of the mysteries of the faith and with the norms of Christian living.” (48) This is something that, in many — if not most — places, needs to be recaptured. The homily is a prime opportunity for evangelization and catechesis from the priest.

Catechetical texts “acquire a fresh signifiance,” the Holy Father writes (49). There is much more opportunity for the publication of such texts, as all over the world the ability to publish has grown easier and easier, and there are countless Catholic publishers, writers, and other producers of catechetical materials. “Numerous very successful works have been produced and are a real treasure in the service of catechetical instruction.” (49) These have to be done carefully, however, in order to be theologically accurate, as well as pedagogically appropriate. This is the both/and that is necessary for effective catechetical literature, and one that has proven to be a great struggle for many. “In certain places, the desire to find the best forms of expression or to keep up with fashions in pedagogical methods has often enough resulted in certain catechetical works which  bewilder the young and even adults, either by deliberately or unconsciously omitting elements essential to the Church’s faith, or by attributing excessive importance to certain themes at the expense of others, or, chiefly, by a rather horizontalist overall view out of keeping with the teaching of the Church’s magisterium.” (49) Clearly this is something that must be avoided! And as catechists, it is of vital importance to seek out the best catechetical texts.

In our next post, we will look at Section VII of the document, entitled “How to Impart Catechesis.”

Catechesi Tradendae: On Catechesis in Our Time (Part 3)

Today we continue our dive into St. John Paul II’s Catechesi Tradendae (On Catechesis in Our Time). The fourth section of this post-synodel apostolic exhortation is titled “The Whole of the Good News Drawn from its Source”. This section opens with a very important point about catechesis: “Since catechesis is a moment or aspect of evangelization, its content cannot be anything else but the content of evangelization as a whole.” (26)

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There are many catechists who read this blog. Some of our readers have years of experience, others are fresh-faced and new. But I think it is fair to say that every person reading this realizes that the heart of catechesis is evangelization. We do not catechize simply so that Catholics will memorize the Ten Commandments, or even the Precepts of the Church, or learn some “Bible stories,” or memorize certain formulas so they can pass a test. No. Rather, catechesis is, at its heart, meant to bring people to an appreciation of the Good News, a relationship with Jesus Christ and the whole Blessed Trinity, and to desire to spread the Good News themselves, as Jesus commanded us. The deposit of faith is a living thing.

“Catechesis will always raw its content from the living source of the Word of God transmitted in Tradition and the Scriptures, for ‘sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church,’ as was recalled by the Second Vatican Council, which desired that ‘the ministry of the word — pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction… – (should be) healthily nourished and (should) thrive in holiness through the word of Scripture.'” (27)

That being said, we must also be sure not to demean the importance and usefulness of credal formulas in catechesis and evangelization. At many points throughout the Church’s history, creeds have been developed to articulate the faith in a succinct way, typically in response to a particular threat to the integrity of the faith. St. John Paul II describes creeds as “an exceptionally important expression of the living heritage placed in the custody of the pastors,” and says that the creeds “at crucial moments have summed up the Church’s faith in felicitous syntheses.” (28)

The pope specifically refers to the Credo of the People of God composed by Pope St. Paul VI and proclaimed at the close of the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul. He calls this a “sure point of reference for the content of catechesis,” in that it contains “the essential elements of the Catholic Faith, especially those that presented greater difficulty or risked being ignored.” (28)

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For Pope St. John Paul II, it is obvious just how important it is to communicate the faith as much as possible; in particular, young people who are just reaching the age of reason. “Anyone can see, for instance, how important it is to make the child, the adolescent, the person advancing in faith understand what can be known about God.” (29) Passing on the deposit of faith, the fidei depositum, is the chief responsibility of the catechist, and it is important to impart the faith to the young so that the faith matures along with them and they are able to grow in deeper understanding of the faith.

In this document, the Holy Father also addresses the ever-important ecumenical question. Is there an ecumenical dimension of Catechesis? “Catechesis cannot remain aloof from this ecumenical dimension, since all the faithful are called to share, according to their capacity and place in the Church, in the movement towards unity.” (32) The pope calls for catechesis to be done with sincere respect for ecclesial communities not in communion with the Catholic Church. These communities must be presented correctly and fairly, and the presentation must foster a true desire for unity among Christians, in union with the will of Jesus “that they may be one” (John 17:21).

Catechesi Tradendae: On Catechesis in Our Time (Part 2)

In our last post, we looked at the first section of Pope St. John Paul II’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Catechesi Tradendae, On Catechesis in Our Time. Today we are continuing our closer look at this important exhortation from the Holy Father.

The third section of the exhortation is entitled “Catechesis in the Church’s Pastoral and Missionary Activity,” and focuses a great deal on catechesis within the context of evangelization. As the readers of this blog will likely recall, St. John Paul II was a great proponent of the Church going into the world in the context of a New Evangelization — and he saw catechesis as a critical part of this. “Catechesis cannot be dissociated from the Church’s pastoral and missionary activity as a whole,” he wrote (18).

There follows a marvelous basic definition of catechesis: “All in all, it can be taken here that catechesis is an education of children, young people and adults in the faith, which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life. Accordingly, while not being formally identified with them, catechesis is built on a certain number of elements of the Church’s pastoral mission that have a catechetical aspect, that prepare for catechesis, or that spring from it. These elements are: the initial proclamation of the Gospel or missionary preaching through the kerygma to arouse faith, apologetics or examination of the reasons for belief, experience of Christian living, celebration of the sacraments, integration into the ecclesial community, and apostolic and missionary witness” (18)

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Catechesis is not purely an end in itself. It is not an intellectual exercise, a memorization challenge. “The specific aim of catechesis is to develop, with God’s help, an as yet initial faith, and to advance in fullness and to nourish day by day the Christian life of the faithful, young and old.” (20) Nourishing the Christian life, growing in relationship with Jesus Christ — this is the aim of catechesis. We are all called to know and love God, and to serve him, and you truly come to love someone the more you get to know Him.

The Holy Father goes on to make the point that catechesis, while not being a purely intellectual endeavor, also is not to be solely based on “life experience.” He says that no opposition is “to be set up between a catechesis taking life as its point of departure and a traditional doctrinal and systematic catechesis.” (22) He continues, “Authentic catechesis is always an orderly and systematic initiation into the revelation that God has given of Himself to humanity in Christ Jesus, a revelation stored in the depths of the Church’s memory and in Sacred Scripture, and constantly communicated from one generation to the next by a living, active traditio.” (22)

In the Catholic Church, all ecclesial life centers around the Sacraments. This absolutely goes for catechesis, and this does not escape the notice of the pope writing in Catechesi Tradendae: “Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of human beings.” (23) Through catechesis we nourish the Christian life, the life which subsists in the Sacraments.

We will continue our discussion of this important exhortation in the next post, with the fourth section.

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Catechesi Tradendae: On Catechesis in Our Time

Pope St. John Paul II was one of the greatest evangelizers and catechizers ever to sit on the Chair of Peter. In November 1977, during the pontificate of Bl. Paul VI, the Fourth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held, with the theme “Catechesis in Our Time,” giving special focus to the catechesis of children and young people.

Following the Synod, the Holy Father began work on the post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Based on the documents and conversations to emerge from the Synod, the work was begun by Paul VI, continued during the exceedingly brief pontificate of John Paul I, and then taken up and completed by John Paul II. The document — entitled Catechesi Tradendae — was ultimately published on October 16, 1979, the one-year anniversary of John Paul II’s election to the papacy.

The text of this document is full of beautiful insights into the task of catechesis, one of the most important responsibilities of the Church. “The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary roles, for, before Christ ascended to His Father after His resurrection, He gave the apostles a final command — to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that He commanded.” (CT 1)

The Church herself is particularly responsible for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, and has been given special gifts by Jesus to impart the Truth: “He also entrusted them [the apostles] with the mission and power to explain with authority what He had taught them, His words and actions, His signs and commandments. And He gave them the Spirit to fulfill this mission.” (CT 1) The Synod that preceded this apostolic exhortation expressed the task of catechesis in ways that would be helpful for all catechists to hear and prayerfully consider.

Authentic catechesis, according to the Synod fathers and stressed in the document, is fundamentally Christocentric. This term “Christocentric” “is intended to stress that at the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, ‘the only Son from the Father…full of grace and truth,’ who suffered and died for us and who now, after rising, is living with us forever.” (CT 5) It is also Christocentric in that what is being transmitted is not the teaching of the individual catechist; rather, it is the teaching of Jesus Christ, “the Truth that He communicates or, to put it more precisely, the Truth that He is.” (CT 6) “Every catechist should be able to apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.'” (CT 6, cf. John 7:16)

What is, according to this great evangelizer, this role model for catechists everywhere, the primary goal of catechesis? “[T]he definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.” (CT 5)

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Catechesis can not be conducted in a vacuum, in a purely intellectual pursuit of some sort of religious formulae. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is necessary for catechesis. “Only in deep communion with Him will catechists find light and strength for an authentic, desirable renewal of catechesis.” (CT 9)

This is important because catechesis is more than just one more thing the Church does, or one more thing a parish needs space for. “[I]t is clear that the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right. On the one hand, it is certainly a duty springing from a command given by the Lord and resting above all on those who in the new covenant receive the call to the ministry of being pastors. On the other hand, one can likewise speak of a right: from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely the reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life.” (CT 14)

Furthermore, “The more the Church, whether on the local or the universal level, gives catechesis priority over other works and undertakings the results of which would be more spectacular, the more she finds in catechesis a strengthening of her internal life as a community of believers and of her external activity as a missionary Church.” (CT 15) At the same time, there is a constant need for renewal in catechesis. It “needs to be continually renewed by a certain broadening of its concept, by the revision of its methods, by the search for suitable language, and by the utilization of new means of transmitting the message.” (CT 17)

Catechesi Tradendae does also address deficiencies in catechesis, which were discussed by the Synod fathers. There are “limitations or even ‘deficiencies’ in what has been achieved to date. These limitations are particularly serious when they endanger integrity of content.” (CT 17) Routine and improvisation are equally dangerous, the pope stresses. “Routine leads to stagnation, lethargy and eventual paralysis. Improvisation begets confusion on the part of those being given catechesis and, when these are children, on the part of their parents; it also begets all kinds of deviations, and the fracturing and eventually the complete destruction of unity.” (CT 17)

The document has much more of value to offer, and presents many more challenges to catechists. This is a document of inestimable value, and every catechist should read it prayerfully. During the summer, when most parish catechetical programs are on hiatus — or at least significantly lower levels of activity — please read the document, and share it with everyone you think it may speak to.

I will continue looking at the document in greater detail as the summer continues.

Classic literature through a Catholic lens

Joseph Pearce is an astoundingly prolific writer. A native of England, with a fascinating and moving conversion story of his own, he is a senior contributor at The Imaginative Conservative and senior editor at the Augustine Institute. His books include biographical works on C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn, and Belloc. He is a senior fellow at the Cardinal Newman Society and editor of its journal.

Pearce also serves as series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions. Recently, he penned a piece for the journal of the Cardinal Newman Society about this series and his involvement, entitled “Critical Editions You Can Trust.” With the permission of the author, we are happy to share the article here with our readers.

 

Many years ago, when I was teaching a course on Romanticism at Ave Maria University in Florida, I was horrified to see the poisonous criticism that had seeped into the critical editions of Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights that I had assigned as set texts to my students. These editions were full of feminist criticism, so-called queer theory and anti-Christian propaganda. Why, I thought, should I put such poison into the hands and therefore the minds of my students? Why, furthermore, should I patronize such trash by assigning the texts in the first place? I felt responsible for increasing the sales of these iconoclastic editions, and felt responsible also for any uncleanness that might enter into the minds and hearts of my students through their reading of them.

In response to this far from edifying situation, I suggested to Father Fessio of Ignatius Press that he should give me the go-ahead to become series editor of new editions of the classics. And so it was that the Ignatius Critical Editions were launched to provide a tradition-oriented alternative to the Norton Critical Editions and other similar series, which have succumbed to the radical relativism of postmodernism and its offshoots, such as the aforementioned feminist criticism and queer theory. These mainstream editions warp the original meaning of the great works through what can best be described as literary abuse. The Ignatius Critical Editions, by way of contrast, would respect the integrity of the works and the intentions of the authors, most of whom were devout Christians whose works reflect their living faith.

A call for papers was sent out to hundreds of tradition-oriented academics across the United States, and indeed to Europe also, and many excellent essays were received. In 2008 the first three titles were published: FrankensteinWuthering Heights and King Lear. Over the following years many more titles followed. There are currently 27 titles in the series, ranging chronologically from Augustine’s Confessions and Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy from the earliest years of Christendom to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published at the end of the nineteenth century. Included among these 27 titles are seven of Shakespeare’s plays, providing a much-needed corrective to the egregious Shakespeare abuse which is currently rampant in the academy.

My personal favorite of all the editions published thus far is the edition of The Merchant of Venice, published in 2009. Apart from my own introduction to the play and, of course, the full text of the play itself, newly annotated, the edition includes seven critical essays on various aspects of the play by some of the finest contemporary tradition-oriented scholars. Film critic James Bemis wrote about film adaptations of the play; Raimund Borgmeier, from the University of Giessen in Germany, wrote about the role of the family in the drama; British scholar Michael Brennan, from the University of Leeds, compared the functions in the plot of Venice and Belmont; Anthony Esolen, who will be no stranger to readers of the Journal, wrote of “the hazard of love”; James Hartley, a professor of economics at Mount Holyoke College, wrote about the problem of usury in the play, indicating Shakespeare’s evident sympathy with the Catholic Church’s position on the subject; Daniel Lowenstein, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote on law and mercy in the trial scene. Other scholars wrote of ways of reading the play and of the role of friendship. How many different facets of this most difficult and misunderstood of plays were thus revealed within the pages of one solitary edition!

Most of the titles in the series come with Study Guides which contain study questions and a selection of essay prompts. They also include a detachable answer key, so that educators can have guidance with respect to the grading of the questions and the essays, which would be especially useful for homeschooling parents.

The most satisfying thing about my involvement with the Ignatius Critical Editions is the knowledge that no teacher at a Catholic school or college, or no homeschooling parent, need ever again find themselves in the position of putting into the hands of their students those editions of the classics which have been poisoned by the toxic mainstream. There is now a healthy choice and a tradition-oriented alternative.

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Humanae Vitae at 50, and teaching sexual morality

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It can be quite a profound challenge to figure out the right way to teach sexual morality to teens today. There is even a debate as to the best age to teach it: while we want to avoid teaching it too early, and opening that can of worms before it is appropriate to do so, we also want to ensure that we (as parents and educators) are the ones who give them the right message and the correct information, rather than the dangerous misinformation they may get from peers or pop culture.

This year, the Church commemorates the 50th anniversary of the release of Humanae Vitae, Pope Bl. Paul VI’s landmark encyclical on human life and sexuality. By far, most coverage of this encyclical focuses on the fact that, in this document, Bl. Paul VI affirmed the Church’s ancient and unbroken opposition to artificial methods of birth control — famously going against the final decision and recommendation of a committee he had set up to look into the issue. But the encyclical contains so much more than that — beautiful elucidations of Catholic teaching on human sexuality, love, living life in the vocation of marriage, and much more. Humanae Vitae has been a great gift to the Church.

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For the 25th anniversary of the encyclical’s release, 25 years ago, Ignatius Press produced a volume edited by Janet E. Smith called Why Humanae Vitae Was Right, featuring a number of essays on the encyclical by some of the finest minds in moral theology. This year, for the 50th anniversary, Dr. Smith has edited a new compendium of essays, entitled Why Humanae Vitae is Still Right, which Ignatius Press will be releasing this summer. Both of these volumes are invaluable resources for unpacking and understanding the encyclical itself, as well as the import it has down to today.

Perhaps it is due to our fallen nature that the debate about sexual morality rages ever on, and western society continues to fight the natural, common-sensical, ancient understanding of the proper use of the sexual faculty. It seems as though things only get worse with each passing year. It is more important than ever to be able to impart the truth to our young people, so that they go out into the world properly equipped, and fortified by grace through the sacraments to fight temptation and sin.

Ignatius Press offers a Catechesis on Christian Sexual Morality for teens called Love & Life, which utilizes the great patrimony of the Church’s Tradition, and in particular the writings of Paul VI and John Paul II, to guide the instruction. Offering a student guide, a teacher’s guide, and a parent guide, Love & Life is an orthodox guide to sexual morality that does a great job of appropriately approaching the topic. (If you have questions, or would like a free review copy, please contact me at paul@ignatius.com, or my colleague Julie Johnson at julie@ignatius.com.)

Another great resource for teens is the YDisciple video series components on chastity: “True Beauty: Chastity for Girls,” and “True Strength: Chastity for Guys.” Each of these is in four sessions, each session only a few minutes long. These videos are short and engaging, packing terrific information about the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. The YDisciple videos can be ordered from the Augustine Institute, and they are available on Formed.org.

Of course, there are also the crucial reflections of Pope St. John Paul II, collectively known as the Theology of the Body. Reflections given at his general audiences over the course of several years, this catechesis on human sexuality and love is one of the greatest treasures the Church has given us, and is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection from this man, a great philosopher with incredible insights into God’s desires for human sexuality. There are many great resources on the Theology of the Body, but perhaps the best place to start would be the texts of the reflections themselves.

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It was recently announced that Paul VI will be canonized sometime in 2018, although the date has yet to be released. It will likely coincide either with the anniversary of the encyclical’s release, or possibly with the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. Let us pray for the intercession of Bl. Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and St. Maria Goretti, that we are able to adequately impart to young people the beauty and truth of the true ends of human sexuality.