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Congregation for the Clergy
General Directory for Catechesis

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    • CHAPTER I Norms and criteria for presenting the Gospel message in catechesis
        • A comprehensive and hierarchical message
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A comprehensive and hierarchical message

114. This message transmitted by catechetics has a "comprehensive hierarchical character", (388) which constitutes a coherent and vital synthesis of the faith. This is organized around the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, in a christocentric perspective, because this is "the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them". (389) Starting with this point, the harmony of the overall message requires a "hierarchy of truths", (390) in so far as the connection between each one of these and the foundation of the faith differs. Nevertheless, this hierarchy "does not mean that some truths pertain to Faith itself less than others, but rather that some truths are based on others as of a higher priority and are illumined by them". (391)

115. All aspects and dimensions of the Christian message participate in this hierarchical system.

– The history of salvation, recounting the "marvels of God" (mirabilia Dei), what He has done, continues to do and will do in the future for us, is organized in reference to Jesus Christ, the "centre of salvation history". (392) The preparation for the Gospel in the Old Testament, the fullness of Revelation in Jesus Christ, and the time of the Church, provide the structure of all salvation history of which creation and eschatology are its beginning and its end.

– The Apostles' Creed demonstrates how the Church has always desired to present the Christian mystery in a vital synthesis. This Creed is a synthesis of and a key to reading all of the Church's doctrine, which is hierarchically ordered around it. (393)

– The sacraments, which, like regenerating forces, spring from the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ, are also a whole. They form "an organic whole in which each particular sacrament has its own vital place". (394) In this whole, the Holy Eucharist occupies a unique place to which all of the other sacraments are ordained. The Eucharist is to be presented as the "sacrament of sacraments". (395)

– The double commandment of love of God and neighbour is—in the moral message—a hierarchy of values which Jesus himself established: "On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Mt 22,40). The love of God and neighbour, which sum up the Decalogue, are lived in the spirit of the Beatitudes and constitute the magna carta of the Christian life proclaimed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. (396)

– The Our Father gathers up the essence of the Gospel. It synthesizes and hierarchically structures the immense riches of prayer contained in Sacred Scripture and in all of the Church's life. This prayer, given by Jesus to his disciples, makes clear the childlike trust and the deepest desires with which one can turn to God. (397)

388) CT 31 which expounds the integrity and organization of the message; cf. DCG (1971) 39 and 43.

389) CCC 234.

390) UR 11.

391) DCG (1971) 43.

392) DCG (1971) 41.

393) St Cyril of Jerusalem affirms with regard to the Creed: "This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as a mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too the summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments".

394) CCC 1211.

395) Ibid.

396) St Augustine presents the Sermon on the Mount as "the perfect charter of the Christian life and contains all the appropriate precepts necessary to guide it" (De Sermone Domini in Monte I, 1; PL 34, 1229-1231); cf. EN 8.

397) The Our Father is, in truth, the summing up of the entire Gospel (Tertullian, De oratione, 1, 6). "Go through all the prayers in the Scriptures and I do not believe that it is possible to find anyone, anywhere, that is not included in the Lord's Prayer. (St Augustine, Epistolas, 130, 12; PL, 33, 502); cf. CCC 2761.

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