Caveat Lector

In light of recent discussions here in the seminary and also with friends elsewhere, I wanted to do a brief post on the nature of catechesis versus the nature of theology. Both topics appear with great frequency on this blog, and I think that identifying one or the other and the traits proper to each will aide in making some posts more effective. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if one tries to read theology within a catechetical framework, problems may arise and vice versa.

The main distinction between catechesis and theology is in the intent: catechesis is intended to demonstrate the official findings of the Church throughout her Tradition, while theology is an ongoing attempt to seek out God through scholarly questioning and research. Both are commendable, and ultimately dependent upon one another; catechesis would not exist without prior theological considerations, and theology without the Catholic truth is hopeless in really finding God. Although vastly different in scope, the two disciplines complement one another perfectly, and truly hold a tension that enables us to delve most fully into the mystery of the Trinity that Christ reveals to us in his Incarnation.

There can be a danger, though, when one reads catechtically into a topic proper to theology, and likewise in reverse; since theology is sometimes speculative and calls upon analogies in its pursuit which are not entirely resistant to all critique, taking theological thought for a norm of the faith can result in a misunderstanding of what it is the Church actually believes. Likewise, it can result in a misapprehension of what the author is truly intending to say. Similarly for the one who reads theologically into something entirely catechetical; the established truth of the Catholic faith which is professed by the authority of the Magisterium is questioned inappropriately and without regard to its foundation in the 'deposit of faith.' Both 'misreads' can end in great calamity, and so avoiding this trouble ought to be a top priority for any writer or student of both.

I only bring this up to ensure two things: First, that what I am writing here be understood for what it is meant to be (theological topics will always be tagged as such, and catechetical topics will be tagged as regards their specific area of pertinence). Second, I want to ensure that what is written in no way adversely affects the reader, who may or may not be a scholar of theology or philosophy or a well-catechized Catholic, but rather that these posts might offer a window into a greater and fuller understanding of the richness and wisdom preserved in the Catholic Tradition. I hope that, thus far, you have found this blog edifying as I fully intend to keep posting. Remember, comments and feedback are welcomed and helpful! Thanks.