World Meeting of Families Preparatory Catechesis
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The Preparatory Catechesis plays a central role in each World Meeting of Families (WMOF). The WMOF is hosted by different dioceses, and the host diocese for each World Meeting writes a preparatory catechism—a collection of what Catholics believe about human purpose, marriage, and the family. The catechesis, like the World Meeting, is for people of all ages at all stages of life.
The truths about the family gathered in the preparatory Church document for each WMOF are what the Catholic Church traditionally teaches, so this is not new teaching, but each of these preparatory documents have particular emphases based on the issues that the host country and the world are dealing with at the time of the writing. The Preparatory Catechesis of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 forms the basis for our programs at the meeting, since the WMOF 2015 team took the content themes from its Preparatory Catechesis and used those to decide which talks, youth games, and other fun activities to include. Here is an excerpt from the Preparatory Catechism that gives you a good idea of what we emphasize: “Love is our mission, and it is by loving God and one another that we will be fully alive.”
This Fall, the full Preparatory Catechesis will be available for purchase on our website, both in hard copy, and in the form of an E-book. See below for a glimpse into the ten themes on which the preparatory catechesis will elaborate:
1 Created for Joy
We are more than an accident of evolution. We are greater than the sum of our biology. God exists. He is good. He loves us. He made us in his image to share in his joy. He takes an active hand in our lives. He sent his only Son to restore our dignity and lead us home to him.
2 The Mission of Love
God works through us. We have a mission. We are in the world for a purpose — to receive God’s love and to show God’s love to others. God seeks to heal a broken universe. He asks us to be his witnesses and helpers in that work.
3 The Meaning of Human Sexuality
The tangible, earthly, corporeal world is more than inert matter or modeling clay for the human will. Creation is sacred. It has sacramental meaning. It reflects God’s glory. That includes our bodies. Our sexuality has the power to procreate, and shares in the dignity of being created in the image of God. We need to live accordingly.
4 Two Become One
We are not made to be alone. Human beings need and complete each other. Friendship and community satisfy that longing with bonds of common interest and love. Marriage is a uniquely intimate form of friendship that calls a man and a woman to love each other in the manner of God’s covenant. Marriage is a Sacrament. Married love is fruitful and offered without reservation. This love is in the image of Jesus’s faithfulness to the Church.
5 Creating the Future
Marriage is meant to be fertile and welcome new life. Children shape the future, just as they themselves are shaped in their families. Without children, there can be no future. Children reared with love and guidance are the foundation for a loving future. Wounded children portend a wounded future. Families are the bedrock for all larger communities. Families are domestic churches, places where parents help children discover that God loves them and has a plan for each child’s life.
6 All Love Bears Fruit
Not everyone is called to marriage. But every life is meant to be fertile. Every life has the power and the need to nurture new life — if not through bearing and raising children, then through other vital forms of self-giving, building and service. The Church is an extended family of different vocations, each distinct but each needing and supporting the others. Priesthood, religious life and the celibate lay vocation to enrich, and are enriched by, the witness of the married state. The different ways of being chaste and celibate outside of marriage are ways of donating one’s life to God’s service and the human community.
7 Light in a Dark World
At its best, the family is a school of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mutual respect, patience and humility in the midst of a world darkened by selfishness and conflict. In these ways, the family teaches what it means to be human. However, many temptations arise which try to coax us into forgetting that male and female are created for covenant and communion. For example, poverty, affluence, pornography, contraception, philosophical and other intellectual mistakes can all create contexts that challenge or threaten healthy family life. The Church resists these things for the sake of protecting the family.
8 A Home for the Wounded Heart
Many people, especially today, face painful situations resulting from poverty, disability, illness and addictions, unemployment, and the loneliness of advanced age. But divorce and same-sex attraction impact the life of the family in different but powerful ways. Christian families and networks of families should be sources of mercy, safety, friendship and support for those struggling with these issues.
9 Mother, Teacher, Family: The Nature and Role of the Church
The Church has institutional forms because she must work in the world. But that does not exhaust her essence. The Church is the Bride of Christ, a “she,” not an “it.” In the words of Saint John XXIII, she is our mother and teacher, our comforter and guide, our family of faith. Even when her people and leaders sin, we still need the Church’s wisdom, Sacraments, support and proclamation of the truth, because she is the body of Jesus himself in the world; the family of God’s people writ large.
10 Choosing Life
God made us for a reason. His love is our life mission. This mission enables us to find our true identity. If we choose to embrace this mission, we will have a new perspective on many issues, not just the family. To live the mission of the domestic church means that Catholic families will sometimes live as minorities, with different values than their surrounding culture. Our mission of love will require courage and fortitude. Jesus is calling, and we can respond, choosing lives of faith, hope, charity, joy, service, and mission.