Theosis: Union with God as a foundation for religious education in Roman Catholicism

William Joseph Mascitello, Fordham University


Religious education efforts in the Roman Catholic Church are ever-evolving. For a century or more after the issue of the nineteenth century Baltimore Catechism, the measure of one's Catholicity was the ability to issue set rote responses to questions contained within it. In the fifty years since the Second Vatican Council, catechetical efforts have been adjusted in ways which have tended to move from emphasis on linear-rational approaches to one's faith. The author advocates for the re-emphasis of relational dimensions and other preter-rational elements which come together toward a more holistic approach to religious education. Renewed religious education efforts would have theosis or divinization as orienting principle, a theme espoused by the Byzantine Christian East. Traced in this work from its scriptural and patristic roots, theosis is a goal for the Christian life which reaches beyond an emphasis on the end of the soteriological process, the "beatific vision" in Roman Catholicism. Theosis is lifelong, and centers on the transformation of individuals as they strive for the restoration of all the relationships in which they find themselves—those with self, others, the whole created order, and ultimately with the triune God. The emphasis on theosis in the life and religious education efforts of the Christian East is explored. A survey of education curriculum theorists in the Christian West reveals themes and practices which are relational and concerned with the whole person—and thus already reflect a more theotic religious education. Characteristics of theotic religious education are then identified and offered as means to re-orient religious education efforts in Roman Catholicism.

Subject Area

Theology|Education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Mascitello, William Joseph, "Theosis: Union with God as a foundation for religious education in Roman Catholicism" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10014276.