Thursday, October 5, 2023

Encyclical on the Catechism of the Youth (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

My beloved brethren,

By decision of the Sacred Synod, the Catechism for male and female students begins again this year, which is a serious work of the Church, by which young people are introduced to the blessed institution of the Church.

Normally, Catechism precedes the mystery of Baptism, because first one gets to know the life of the Church and then enters it.

Since, however, with the passage of time, infant baptism was introduced into the Church, that is, a person is baptized a short time after their birth, while they are still an infant, for this reason the Catechetical Schools began to function from a long time ago, for those who were preparing to be baptized who were of mature age, and for the illumined, that is, for those who had been baptized.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Catechetical Schools were created in the Church of Greece, because the new conditions of life imposed the need for our Church to be interested in the children who have already been baptized. Also, with infant baptism was introduced the institution of the sponsor (godparent), who undertakes to catechize the child they baptized. But due to secularization, the role of the godparent was also degraded.

This is the reason for which the Catechism of children is required and necessary, and must be placed in an Orthodox context. Basically, experienced Catechists help the children to get to know the Church and its life up close, to love Christ who showed His great love for us, sacrificing Himself on the Cross and then rising again, to learn how to behave as Christians in society and to become good citizens.

In addition to this, in the Catechetical Schools young people learn how to deal with different ways of thinking, how to handle the various challenges they accept or will accept in their lives, how to prepare themselves, but also how to get to know the special traditions of our land.

Catechetical work is meant to make one completely healthy - spiritually and psychically - I could also add the psychological aspect. And because we live in an unstable age where people do not learn how to deal with borderline situations in their lives, such as successes and failures, negative and positive challenges from society, modern philosophical and religious movements, but also modern technological development, this is why the participation of children in the Catechetical Schools of the Church is always beneficial.

This is the reason for which, as the Metropolitan of this Sacred Metropolis, I am asking the parents, relatives and teachers of the children to urge them to approach the Catechetical Schools that operate in each Parish, so that their children along with their physical and intellectual development, will develop spiritually, socially and ecclesiastically.

In our days, more than any other time, all of us and our young people, we need the Church, which has the Grace of God, as it is the Body of Christ, but also has an amazing history and experience, to help us to really love God and people and to become ourselves perfect people according to Christ.

I wish you a good and blessed catechetical year.

With paternal blessings,

The Metropolitan of Nafpaktos & Agiou Vlasiou Hierotheos
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.