25 October 2012

A Catechetical Thought

Through the generosity of one of the brothers, I've had the opportunity to listen to a series of lectures by the late, great Raymond E. Brown, S.S., about the Gospel of John.  Midway through the fifth disc, Brown makes the point that the Gospel of John is largely devoid of the refined ethical content found in the other three Gospels.  Brown suggests that this was because the Community of the Gospel of John largely still had its ethics in place: the Ten Commandments.  Thus, it was necessary for them to explain the Jesus event, not ethics.  Brown goes on to note that the First Letter of John is, in his opinion, a corrective to the second or third generation of the John Community.  Since by this time the community had lost connection with the synagogue, it no longer had an assumed ethics.  

Brown uses this opportunity to speak analogously of the participants and receptors of the Second Vatican Council.  The Council Fathers knew their Catechisms, so to speak, and thus spoke on matters beyond basic Catholic knowledge.  The documents of the Council thus suppose a basic knowledge of the faith.  The problem, Brown points out, is that later generations only read the Council and not the content that was assumed to be understood and embedded within Catholic life.  

Herein is a challenge for catechesis in the future, it seems.  The Spirit of the Council must be, of course, passed on to new generations of Catholics.  However, perhaps the Spirit of Chalcedon, Ephesus, Nicea and Trent must be passed long as well!  

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