The Catholic School, through its defining culture, its curriculum and its classroom-based Religious Education programs, plays an important formative role in support of families in the Religious Education of those to whom it ministers.
It is also a place where the sacramental and dialogical approach to the teaching of Religious Education promotes a recontextualising school environment. This environment may challenge people to give shape to their personal identity in conversation with others, against the background of the Catholic Tradition.
This curriculum meets the needs of School, family and communities in evangelising students and helping them realise the beauty, the power and love of faith in Jesus Christ. In schools today a recontextualised and dialogical approach strengthens a systematic, comprehensive, enriched curriculum. It addresses this context in a pluralist and increasingly secular society. Growth and formation in a Catholic School is enhanced by the development of a post critical belief.
While Religious Education teachers give explicit Christian witness to, and invite students into engaged learning about, the Christian message, they cannot presuppose faith in their students. Teachers invite students to consider the religious dimensions of reality, including one’s own existence, foster an understanding of the biblical narratives, the insights and challenge of the Gospel, and provide an experience of and reflection on the Christian worldview as it is expressed in Catholic Tradition.
Using a wide range of learning and teaching strategies, and being aware of and informed by personal experiences of the learner, religious educators encourage the learner to reflect on self, the world, the environment and God’s Revelation in and through all these through the lenses of Sacred Scripture, Tradition, Christian Prayer and Liturgy, and Religion and Society.
Revelation can be understood as natural, referring to a kind of evidence of God in all created things, in the human quest for truth, goodness and beauty, in the phenomenon of religion in all cultures; it can also be understood as historical, referring to the knowledge and understandings that emerge from the particular encounter with God in the historical traditions of Judaism and Christianity. While these understandings of revelation are interdependent, it is the content of historical revelation which structures the Christian worldview and the ways of knowing and acting which are characteristic of the Catholic Tradition.
Attempting to describe revelation, the Second Vatican Council stated:
The Church holds that what God has revealed for the salvation of humanity, God has enabled to be passed on to all generations of humanity. Christ, in whom the full revelation of God is brought to completion, commissioned the Apostles to preach to all that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles, handing on what they had received from Christ, and what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic people who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing over time. (Dei Verbum, n.7)
In order to keep this Good News forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left Bishops as their successors, passing on to them the responsibility and authority to teach in their place. This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments, is like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God. (Dei Verbum, n.7)
Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, the Church continues to reflect on the meaning of this revelation and how it speaks to humanity. This occurs through the ongoing contemplation and study undertaken by people today, through a discernment of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of Bishops. (Dei Verbum, n.8)
There exists a close connection and communication between Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Sacred Scripture is the Word of God committed to writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, while Sacred Tradition takes the Word of God entrusted by Christ and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors, enabling it to be faithfully proclaimed and explained today. Therefore, both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and enacted. (Dei Verbum, n.9)
Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire Church united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers. (Dei Verbum, n.10)