The Hierarchy of Truths
The Deposit of Faith - much like a house - exists according to a Hierarchy of Truths, wherein some truths are more foundational than other truths. The latter rest upon the former as the 2" x 4" studs constituting the frame of a home rest upon the concrete foundation and the plumbing. Before the frame is built, the concrete must be poured, and even before the pouring, the first pipes for the plumbing must be set in place. With regard to catechesis, the existence of a hierarchy of truths does not mean some truths are more true than others. Rather, it means that for an effective pedagogy (or, method of teaching), the catechist must lay the foundation first and teach the remainder of the deposit with the foundation always in mind, connecting the pieces.
5 Foundational Truths
In order for RCIA participants to get a solid hold on the Deposit of Faith, it is critical to show them how all of the truths are grounded in several foundational truths. These truths are contained in one significant paragraph within the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life." (CCC, #1)
These five foundational truths of revelation are invoked throughout the Catechism and provide a framework in which all doctrine finds its proper context. They are:
- The Blessed Trinity: God is an eternal loving communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- The Person of Jesus: A divine person who took on human nature in the Incarnation
- The Paschal Mystery: the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ
- The Dignity of the Human Person: made in the image and likeness of God
- The Church: the Body of Christ brought to life in the Holy Spirit
Breaking It Down
Let's take a look at each of these foundational truths individually.
What Does This Mean Practically?
The ordering of teachings within the catechumenal process requires a firm understanding of the foundational truths and the way in which all other truths flow from them. These foundational truths, then, should be laid out at the beginning and referred back to during subsequent sessions. In this way, the catechist can provide participants with an overarching framework in which the entire Deposit of Faith can and must be understood.
To break it down even further, if you're looking for a system to put in place to make this work practically using a curriculum that respects the need for a year-round inquiry and a year-round catechumenate with the proper discernment of readiness before participants progress through rites... then be sure to check out our blog entry titled: "Integrating a Systematic Catechesis with a Year-Round Process."
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