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Teach youth old-time religion with no gimmicks, Archbishop tells catechists

Rev Michael Smith (from left), Archbishop Jason Gordon and Deborah de Rosia, leader, Eternal Light Community.

It is an “awesome challenge” to be a catechist, and a privilege to bring the faith to the present generation.

In the past, all catechists had to know was “Who made you? Why did God make you? What is a sacrament?”. Today’s a catechist has a bigger challenge because some young people do not listen to teachers.

“What they listen to is witnesses, authenticity, to people whose lives are depicting what they say is true about the Christian message,” Archbishop Jason Gordon said last Sunday at a Mass for teachers of Religious Instruction in Government-run primary and secondary schools last Sunday at the Eternal Light Community, Back Street, Tunapuna.

The Gospel, John 2:1–11—the Wedding Feast in Cana—was the basis for most of his homily. He observed when it came to Catholicism and young people, it can be said the wine had run out.

Mentioning the wine-growing culture captured in the reading, he said wine was all about festivity and gladness. It intoxicated and created “a sense of wonderful connection” with others.

Archbishop Gordon said, “if the wine runs out what you have left is drudgery, duty, obedience, obligation and have to, should do, and ought to.” Obligation alone will not motivate young people. He said they must drink the wine and experience the incredible joy intoxicating their life.

Citing Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: Joy of the Gospel, he said there can be no sourpuss Christians. “This generation will only experience the gospel if the gospel is communicated with joy, that joy is infectious and touches the heart, the soul, the life of God’s people.”

Archbishop Gordon said communicating the Catholic faith is not about communicating “the had, the should, the would” but the incredible love of God whose passion for humans was shown by giving His only Son. He urged catechists to communicate the ways they have experienced God’s love and how it transformed their lives.

Transmission of the faith is one of the most important “festal” things they can do; it must be done in a way which fired up their religious imagination and gave a desire for the eternal.

The role of the catechist is to help the young understand the world is more than what they can see with their eyes and touch with their hands. Archbishop Gordon said, “Giving them that sense that the transcendence is really where the whole action of the human is, our soul is restless until it rests in God.”

He called for inner conversion and strong prayer if the catechists are to fulfil the privilege of bringing the faith. Archbishop Gordon instructed, “No gimmicks are going to help this generation come to faith, no antics, no new-found nutten…. Basic old-time religion lived with integrity, dedicated and sprinkled with incredible faith and enriched with the joy and wine of the Gospel.”

At the start of his homily a man fell ill and Archbishop Gordon led prayers with the congregation and assistance given. – LPG