RCIA 38 says we are "to give the candidates a suitable explanation of the Gospel." Likewise, RCIA 42 says that before someone passes from the first period of Precatechumenate into the Catechumenate, "the fundamentals of Christian teaching" should have "taken root in the candidates."
The Gospel and the fundamentals of Christian teaching includes the following:
- Trinity and Creation - God is Trinity and creates out of his divine love
- Divine Revelation - God speaks to us so we may know his will
- Man and Woman - We are made in the image of God (Lat. Imago Dei)
- Sin - We have separated ourselves from God through our own free will
- From Adam to Jesus - God has been working to save us through the covenants
- Jesus Christ - In the final and definitive covenant, God became man!
- Paschal Mystery - Jesus saves us through his Suffering, Death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven!
- Pentecost - Jesus sends the Holy Spirit; the Church is born
- Life in Christ - Jesus frees us from our sin and brings us true joy in holiness
- The 4 Last Things - We will die and be judged; heaven and hell are the only two final destinations for every human person
The above bullet points serve as an outline of what is known by different names: The Story, The Narratio, or Salvation History. The General Directory for Catechesis says, "In Patristic catechesis, the narration (narratio) of the wonderful deeds of God and the awaiting (expectatio) of Christ's return always accompanied the exposition of the mysteries of faith" (#107).
A very ancient and time-honored way of presenting the Gospel is to tell The Catholic Family Story. This is the story of who God is and what his plan is for us. The story should be told - in its entirety - near the very beginning of the catechumenal process. This can be accomplished in thirty minutes. The catechist simply lays out the story, element by element, beginning with God, continuing to the present day, and following all the way to the last things: death, judgement, Heaven, and Hell.
Once The Story has been told, the remainder of the Precatechumenate can be spent focusing on the major points of this Story (i.e., the bullet points provided above). This, dovetailed with answering inquirers' questions, serves as the content of the Precatechumenate. Of course, more is needed. Small group discussion about how these points in the story affect the lives of the participants is necessary. Also necessary are other components, including the acquiring of sponsors; inviting inquirers into parishioners' homes; praying together; etc.
The next period of the RCIA - the Catechumenate - is the period in which we flesh out these fundamentals of Christian teaching and put the meat on the bones, so to speak. So, there is no rush or need to go into great depth when presenting the above aspects of the Good News, the "Gospel."
For a more in-depth exposition, download and read the PDF article titled: "Starting Fires in the RCIA: Precatechumenate Catechesis and Apologetics."
Related Blog Entry
Also, see the blog entry titled: "The Story - Context for Catechesis"