Catechesis Should Address Whole Person, Says Pope
Affirms That St. Cyril Is a Model for Today
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI offered the example of one of the first Christian catechists as a role model for the Church of today.
The Pope dedicated his address at today's general audience in Paul VI Hall to the figure of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a fourth-century bishop.
"Cyril's homilies make up a systematic catechesis on the rebirth of the Christian through baptism," the Holy Father explained.
He added: "To the catechumen, Cyril says: 'You have fallen into the nets of the Church. Let yourself be taken alive: Do not run away, because it is Jesus who takes you to his love, not to give you death but the resurrection after death. You must die and rise again. … Die to sin, and live for justice, starting today.'"
The Pontiff highlighted three elements of Cyril's catechesis: doctrinal, moral and, as a synthesis of the first two, mystagogical.
Benedict XVI explained that Cyril's doctrinal teaching is based on Scripture, showing the "relationship between the two Testaments, pointing to Christ, the center of the universe."
His "morality is anchored in profound unity to the doctrinal one," the Pope explained. "Dogma slowly descends into souls, which are asked to change their pagan ways to adopt new life in Christ, the gift of baptism."
The Holy Father continued: "The 'mystagogical' catechesis, was the height of instruction that Cyril imparted, no longer to catechumens, but to the newly baptized and neophytes during Easter week. He led them to discover the mysteries still hidden in the baptismal rites of the Easter vigil.
"Enlightened by the light of a faith, deepened in the strength of baptism, the neophytes were finally able to better understand the mysteries, having just celebrated the rites."
Thus, the Pope affirmed, Cyril's catechesis is "integral … involving the body, soul and spirit," which "remains emblematic of the catechetical formation of today's Christians."