Six Keys to a More Evangelizing Catechesis: Sacramentality

6 Keys to a More Evangelizing Catechesis - text with mosaic tiles surrounding it

We continue with our series exploring six keys to making our faith formation experiences more evangelizing by focusing on key #2: sacramentality.

Simply put, Catholics have a “way of seeing”—a vision for reality that is informed by the presence of God in all things. We call this way of seeing sacramentality, a way of “seeing” the invisible and intangible presence of God through visible and tangible realities. Catholic faith formation is most effective when it teaches this way of seeing in addition to doctrine. Why? Because if we can recognize the presence of God in our world and in our neighbor, we will love and respect all of creation and all human beings, and we will know that we are never alone, because God is with us.

If we want our catechesis to be more evangelizing, we must speak to people’s hearts, which sacramentality does. By relying on a language of mystery (symbolic action), sacramentality serves as a vehicle that is capable of transporting a human being from a narrative of defeat, dysfunction, and despair to one of rescue, restoration, and reassurance.

How does sacramentality accomplish this? Think of the following example: when a child falls down and scrapes a knee, he or she goes to Mommy or Daddy and asks her or him to “kiss it and make it better.” Now, we know that this act is symbolic and does not heal damaged cells at the molecular level, but we do it because we know that it does make it better! The symbolic act transports the child from a narrative of fear and pain to one of love and comfort—and things do begin to get better.

In our Catholic Tradition, we have many powerful, symbolic actions that make up our sacramental life. When we light a candle, pour water, anoint with oil, lay on hands, or trace the Sign of the Cross, we invoke a narrative of rescue, restoration, and reassurance—the three “R’s” of the Good News. The sacraments are not magic, just as “kissing it and making it better” is not magic. But, like that and every other symbolic action, they “work” by invoking a narrative—telling a story. And it is through the proclamation of that story that we encounter the One who rescues, restores, and reassures us: Jesus Christ!

Our Catholic faith formation must be imbued with sacramentality if we hope to transport those we teach to a narrative of rescue, restoration, and reassurance. Several years ago, I created the below diagram to show the elements that constitute a language of mystery. I encourage you to do an inventory of your approach to faith formation to make sure that you are integrating these elements on a regular basis in order to speak to the hearts of those you teach!

language of mystery diagram by Joe Paprocki, as seen in the Catechetical Formation Series


Achieve a more evangelizing faith formation experience for young people with Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts.

About Joe Paprocki 2580 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

1 Comment on Six Keys to a More Evangelizing Catechesis: Sacramentality

  1. I would appreciate if you could have an adult catechetical tips for this being an adult catechist. To imbibe them that sacraments are not just rituals but realistic Happening in our daily lives.

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