More on Catechetical Method

Timothy O'Malley, of the McGrath Institute at Notre Dame, posted a helpful article last year on why he teaches a course in catechetics. He has some particularly insightful comments on why catechesis is valuable to learn and what constitutes it as a unique practice of the church.

He wants to guard agains the view that catechesis is an inferior discipline—less worthy of study, and which doesn't require the intellectual fortitude of more nobler disciplines

Often enough in the academy, catechesis is preceded by the term “mere.” While the theologian advances knowledge and is engaged in critical inquiry, the catechist is “merely” teaching the particulars of Christian faith.

But such an assumption doesn't get at what kind of education catechesis is. Isn't not "theology lite," but "an act of theological interpretation":

Such an assumption fails to grasp that the catechist is performing an act of theological interpretation in every moment of teaching. As Augustine notes in his De doctrina christiana (On Teaching Christianity), the first act of the teacher is not presentation but interpretation. A catechist without a theological education is for this reason a danger in the classroom, who will either rigidly present a Tradition to the student or will deform Catholic teaching in the process of teaching.

O'Malley especially wants to counter the association of catechesis with "rote memory," which doesn't nearly capture the depth of what's going on in catechetical teaching. This paragraph said especially well what catechesis is aiming towards, and so why it's important to teach people how to do catechesis:

An introduction to catechetical theology is thus forming burgeoning leaders in the field of catechesis in a theological-pedagogical aesthetics and dramatics. Such an approach forms the future leader to first contemplate what is revealed in Jesus Christ through the Creed, through worship, through the moral life, and through a robust existence of prayer. The religious tradition of Catholicism does not reveal general human truths but instead a particular form of life only discernable within the Church’s cultural life. It is a narrative of salvation, one that the human being may participate in through contemplative, embodied practice.