Tag Archives: Catechism of the Catholic Church

A catechist is a Christian who keeps the memory of God alive, Pope Francis tells

Mass offered today by Pope Francis marked an International Day for Catechists organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization for the Year of Faith. Patriarch John X of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Church was present.

It is a day to remember what teaching the faith to others means. Indeed, we can focus on the gifts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Key to any method of teaching is knowing what the role of the teacher has. In the Church, we say that Catechists are not the focus of our attention in passing on the Tradition of the faith, Christ the teacher is. We who teach the faith to others, especially the young, don’t replace the parents as the first teachers of the faith, nor do we, when it comes to adults, obscure the fact that each person makes the decision to freely follow Jesus doing the hard work to know what Jesus said and did.

As Pope Francis said, catechists reflect the memory of God in concrete ways; a line of thinking that Pope Benedict also taught us. Attend to what Francis says. Keeping the memory of God is an intriguing idea: the gift of being able to give clear witness to the Creator, indeed the work of the Holy Trinity. In Ignatian terms, we know God to labor for us but do we recognize this fact? This is one of the reasons we are to be familiar with narrative of divine revelation. There are many patron saints for catechists but we ought to consider important to go to are Saint Robert Bellarmine, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint John Bosco and Saint John Baptist de la Salle, among others. Go to the saints help you to remember God.

Pope Francis’ homily follows:

1. “Woe to the complacent in Zion, to those who feel secure … lying upon beds of ivory!” (Am 6:1,4). They eat, they drink, they sing, they play and they care nothing about other people’s troubles.

These are harsh words which the prophet Amos speaks, yet they warn us about a danger that all of us face. What is it that this messenger of God denounces; what does he want his contemporaries, and ourselves, to realize? The danger of complacency, comfort, worldliness in our lifestyles and in our hearts, of making our well-being the most important thing in our lives. This was the case of the rich man in the Gospel, who dressed in fine garments and daily indulged in sumptuous banquets; this was what was important for him. And the poor man at his doorstep who had nothing to relieve his hunger? That was none of his business, it didn’t concern him. Whenever material things, money, worldliness, become the centre of our lives, they take hold of us, they possess us; we lose our very identity as human beings. The rich man in the Gospel has no name, he is simply “a rich man”. Material things, his possessions, are his face; he has nothing else.

Let’s try to think: How does something like this happen? How do some people, perhaps ourselves included, end up becoming self-absorbed and finding security in material things which ultimately rob us of our face, our human face? This is what happens when we no longer remember God. If we don’t think about God, everything ends up being about “me” and my own comfort. Life, the world, other people, all of these become unreal, they no longer matter, everything boils down to one thing: having. When we no longer remember God, we too become unreal, we too become empty; like the rich man in the Gospel, we no longer have a face! Those who run after nothing become nothing – as another great prophet Jeremiah, observed (cf. Jer 2:5). We are made in God’s image and likeness, not that of material objects, not that of idols!

2. So, as I look out at you, I think: Who are catechists? They are people who keep the memory of God alive; they keep it alive in themselves and they are able to revive it in others. This is something beautiful: to remember God, like the Virgin Mary, who sees God’s wondrous works in her life but doesn’t think about honor, prestige or wealth; she doesn’t become self-absorbed. Instead, after receiving the message of the angel and conceiving the Son of God, what does she do? She sets out, she goes to assist her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. And the first thing she does upon meeting Elizabeth is to recall God’s work, God’s fidelity, in her own life, in the history of her people, in our history: “My soul magnifies the Lord … For he has looked on the lowliness of his servant … His mercy is from generation to generation” (Lk 1:46, 48, 50).

This canticle of Mary also contains the remembrance of her personal history, God’s history with her, her own experience of faith. And this is true too for each one of us and for every Christian: faith contains our own memory of God’s history with us, the memory of our encountering God who always takes the first step, who creates, saves and transforms us. Faith is remembrance of his word which warms our heart, and of his saving work which gives life, purifies us, cares for and nourishes us. A catechist is a Christian who puts this remembrance at the service of proclamation, not to be important, not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about his love and his fidelity.

Saint Paul recommends one thing in particular to his disciple and co-worker Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, whom I proclaim and for whom I suffer (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-9). The Apostle can say this because he too remembered Christ, who called him when he was persecuting Christians, who touched him and transformed him by his grace.

The catechist, then, is a Christian who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life and who is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others. This is not easy! It engages our entire existence! What is the Catechism itself, if not the memory of God, the memory of his works in history and his drawing near to us in Christ present in his word, in the sacraments, in his Church, in his love? Dear catechists, I ask you: Are we in fact the memory of God? Are we really like sentinels who awaken in others the memory of God which warms the heart?

3. “Woe to the complacent in Zion!”. What must we do in order not to be “complacent” – people who find their security in themselves and in material things – but men and woman of the memory of God? In the second reading, Saint Paul, once more writing to Timothy, gives some indications which can also be guideposts for us in our work as catechists: pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness (cf. 1 Tim 6:11).

Catechists are men and women of the memory of God if they have a constant, living relationship with him and with their neighbor; if they are men and women of faith who truly trust in God and put their security in him; if they are men and women of charity, love, who see others as brothers and sisters; if they are men and women of “hypomoné”, endurance and perseverance, able to face difficulties, trials and failures with serenity and hope in the Lord; if they are gentle, capable of understanding and mercy.

Let us ask the Lord that we may all be men and women who keep the memory of God alive in ourselves, and are able to awaken it in the hearts of others. Amen.

YouCat is essential reading

At the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid, Pope Benedict unveiled what is called, YouCat, the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. It was his hope and intention to make the beauty of the Catholic Faith be available to many. The Pope’s foreword says the text provides a tool for all, laity and clergy, “who are looking for answers to problems” as well as “paths for personal and group reflection.”

YouCat is worldwide success with some 27 translations (and counting). It is, without a doubt, an immense success from a publishing point of view. Recent news on YouCat speaks of Taiwanese Catholics welcoming their edition (天主教 青年 教 理). This good news comes on the heels of a report that 1.5 million copies of the YouCat were distributed for free by Aid to the Church in Need to Brazilian young people to help in WYD 2013.

It goes to show that a book can have a positive effect on faith formation, evangelization, with an emphasis on faith and reason. Just like the standard volume of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, YouCat covers doctrine, sacraments, the moral life, prayer and spirituality.

I find YouCat extraordinarily helpful and promote its use among people of all ages. It is categorically NOT only for young people. Adults of all ages benefit from an attentive use of YouCat. I used it in the RCIA and other adult faith formation forums. The authors/editors made certain that the text gives an excellent user friendly experience, its content is accessible and very handy. It has great images and several great features like definitions, cross-referencing and a good layout. I urge you to get a copy today! Follow the link above.

Erroneous judgement –what does the Church teach

Many of say that conscience rights is under attack. And with good reason. Take for instance the US Senate’s recent rejection of conscience rights viz. President Obama’s healthcare fiasco. So, a reasonable question is what the understanding of the role of conscience in moral decision making?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 1790-93) states the following about erroneous judgement:

A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

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Wisdom … our life … in Christ

It was brought to my attention that we need to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. We need help. So ask for it. Let’s look at what the Church said at the Second Vatican Council about our own times in Gaudium et Spes:

To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. Some of the main features of the modern world can be sketched as follows.

Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well.

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Brimming over with the Father’s love

One of the blogs I read with some frequency is the blog, Domine, da mihi hanc aqua!, written by a Dominican Friar of the Province of Saint Martin de Porres, Father Philip Neri Powell. I recommend it, after reading the Communio blog. His blog post for today provides a good examination for. Tonight, people came to the parish to watch the second video of Father Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” project. In many ways what the friar says below and what Father Baron did in the video cohere. Read Father Philip wrote (in part) and watch “Catholicism.”

The Catechism teaches us that “the Word became flesh for us in order to [1] save us by reconciling us with God. . .[2] so that thus we might know God’s love. . .[3] to be our model of holiness. . .[4] to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature'”(457-60). Let’s break this down even further. Since we are alienated from God by our sin and God wills that we be reconciled with Him, our sins must be expunged, washed away. With the birth, death, and resurrection of the Christ, our sins are forgiven. For God’s forgiveness to take hold in our lives, we must receive His forgiveness as a gift–an unmerited grace, freely given. When we receive His forgiveness as a gift, we come to know the Father’s love; that is, His love is made manifest, given another body and soul–our own. With a body and soul brimming with the Father’s love, we begin a life of holiness, a life set apart from the world while living in the world. A life of holiness looks, sounds, and feels like the life that Jesus himself led: a life of mercy, sacrifice, love, perseverance, and courage. Living such a life–steeping ourselves in God’s enduring love–trains us to participate more fully in His divine nature, making us both human and divine, and perfectly so in His presence.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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