Dear friend Philokalia,
Thank you for your response, it will help me to share with you the Orthodox point of view.
In the Catholic site you proposed, in the very beginning of the text, I found the following preface:
“1. The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks, for, before Christ ascended to his Father after his Resurrection, he gave the Apostles a final command--to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that he had commanded. He thus entrusted them with the mission and power to proclaim to humanity what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they had looked upon and touched with their hands, concerning the Word of Life. He also entrusted them with the mission and power to explain with authority what he had taught them, his words and actions, his signs and commandments. And he gave them the Spirit to fulfil this mission. Very soon the name of catechesis was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ. The Church has not ceased to devote her energy to this task.”
This context of Catholic “catechesis” is vividly showing in what way the Catholic church is using the word “disciples”. It’s the “notion” of discipleship that we have for every educational system: we must learn and comprehend the facts of a cognitional truth and then we may experience this truth in a personal way in order to introduce ourselves as “disciples” of the teaching itself in our own lives.
It’s like learning the guitar (in an analogy fashion). One has to learn from a guitar player what a guitar is, how it functions, what music is, and then he may become as a “disciple” of “guitar playing” so that he may become a guitar player himself by going from ignorance to scholarship.
Now let’s look at the Orthodox notion of “catechesis” by looking at the meaning of “disciple”. The true meaning of Christian Discipleship is declared in Luke 14:25-35:
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
31 "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32 "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34 "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?
35 "It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
In this context, the disciple can not learn anything else but his inability to be educated about the Teachers status of being. He will always be a disciple not in a learning mode, but in an ignorance mode.
He will try to use the knowledge of sonship, of fathership, of bedmate, of brothership, of a mere being (as a self relation knowledge) but all this will fail him as a disciple.(Luke 14:26)
He must carry the apprenticeship that will never add to him any knowledge at all, like a cross of discipleship that will leave him in ignorance. (Luke 14:27)
Because he does not have the power to be a disciple of Divine teachings in his earthly created nature. He can not build up the Devine Body of Christ using human nature’s stuff.(Luke 14:29-30)
For as a king that has no power to fight against another king’s stronger enemy he has to make peace with him, accepting his strengthlessness, likewise the disciple must realise his impotence to learn the Divine knowledge. (Luke 14:31-32)
So the disciple must give up all of his human nature attributes - along with his human knowledge/logic/mind - as unsuitably for Devine discipleship. (Luke 14:33)
Salt is good for eating as long as it “denies” its natural attributes of being mineral, and by that it enters into the reality of “alive” beings, itself remaining absolutely unaware of it’s salty taste. It is nevertheless this discipleship of ignorance that permits it to take part in a world that is none of its. If it would persist to its own tasteless nature then it would have no place into “alive realities”. (Luke 14:34-35)
So by that, you understand that the discipleship for Orthodox Church is not an order “to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that He had commanded”. Neither is that: “He thus entrusted them with the mission and power to proclaim to humanity what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they had looked upon and touched with their hands, concerning the Word of Life”. Neither is that: “He also entrusted them with the mission and power to explain with authority what he had taught them, his words and actions, his signs and commandments.”
It is true that the Orthodox Church is giving evidence as a witness about the realities of the presence of Christ in flesh and blood, and of His life as a man-God, His passion, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and about the evidence that the bible presents about history of man an God’s presence in man’s history. This is done by the Orthodox Church according to the context of John 1:14-18
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, ' He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
So Orthodox Church is not educated people about Christ, She gives evidence of His presence in people’s lives. And there is a substantial difference between “providing education” and of “giving evidence”.
It’s like the difference between a University and a Court. In the University the students use their minds learning and comprehending about realities from a teacher, and in a Court witnesses testify about realities from their lives in front of jury.
The difference between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, regarding the catechesis issue is that: The Catholic church uses the methodology of a University that instructs the teachings about Devine realities to the “disciples”, and the Orthodox Church uses the methodology of a Court wherein humans testify about their experiences with Devine realities to the “disciples”.
As you can understand in Orthodox Church the “disciples” are not being educated at all, they are just being informed from testimonies and being presented evidences, like jurors are in a Court. And like in a Court, when someone refers to another person that is involved in the case, the jury ask to meet with him and to receive his testimony too, the Church witnesses present the Church Body, as Christ-the Person, to testify for Himself about the unspoken evidence that are not themselves able to provide evidence.
This is what Orthodox Catechesis is about.
I make an effort to show what the diference is between Orthodox & Catholics. It is up to you my friend to evaluate this.