By Andrew Fernandes
Archdiocesan Catechetical Office
The Catholic Church is on a mission—to teach the Good News throughout the world and bring all people in relationship with God. This mission comes from the great command, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19–20). Emanating from this command, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (CT), stated that “the Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks” (CT 1) – thereby establishing it as a main agenda of the Church.
Throughout the ages and to this day, God meets with and reveals Godself to all of humanity in various ways—He does this through people, situations, things and experiences. But for those who are searching deeply for God, God also reveals Godself through the Church: in holy scripture, her teachings, and all of her traditions.
Every Christian is supposed to be on mission to “know God”; this is the divine agenda, a mission Jesus Himself was sent for—so that they will know the Father (Jn 14:6; 17:2). Jesus is the divine compass which God uses to lead people to Him, and it is only through Christ will we find God.
The memorable aspects of embarking on any journey or mission, is the planning and the preparation. This invokes all kinds of emotion— anxiety, excitement, anticipation and, sometimes even fear, hoping and praying that all will go well. The other thing is accompaniment. We often try to ensure that the people going with us are like-minded and are as open to enjoying the moment as we are.
A main part of the process is getting pertinent knowledge of both the destination and the directions to get there. Sometimes you may need assistance, an experienced guide, to go along with you to ensure you capture all that the journey has to offer.
More importantly, though, are the experiences you gain and the encounters you have along the way as you get there. It is not unusual, however, for every individual on that journey, to have varied experiences and encounters at varied times.
The Catechetical Mission is to help people to come into a deeper relationship with Christ, and through Christ find their way to God. This journey, similar to the one previously described, can trigger the emotions of anxiety, excitement, anticipation, fear and even loneliness at times. But, with the right companionships and support, all will be well.
A good catechetical formation process is not only an education in the faith but the creation of an environment which encourages people to encounter Christ in various ways and at various times. These encounters or experiences will vary from person to person —after all, who can dictate how, when and where God choses to reveal Godself to someone?
To achieve this catechetical goal requires all hands on deck as it is, in its entirety, a reflection and expression of the whole Body of Christ. Each member of the Church is primarily tasked with sharing, telling, and passing on the traditions of the faith, not merely by words, but mostly by deed. Our catechesis is best taught by the way we live our lives, and it encompasses ALL of our lived experiences.
The Book of Acts, for example, is a compilation of the experiences of the Apostles as they journey to live out their mission. It is a proclamation of “all that they have seen and what they have heard” (Acts 4:20).
Today, you are invited to assess your own life’s journey, what are you proclaiming? What have you seen and what have you heard along the way? What excites you about your faith that makes you want to share with others? Like the woman by the well (Jn 4: 4–28), who have you told about what you have seen and heard?
To catechise, which we are all called to do, requires that we partake fully in the Eucharist of Christ, hear His Word, and echo it. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples found the courage to leave of the upper room and catechise. Motivated by the same Holy Spirit, we too are now encouraged to begin this process by growing beyond the pews.
Did you Know
The sign of peace was not created to be a casual exchange, but a profound plea for forgiveness.
Ancient cultures had a custom of a “kiss of peace,” which was much more meaningful than the simple handshake or waving that has replaced it in the modern Church.
Furthermore, since churches were relatively small at the time, everyone knew everyone else, making this “kiss” more meaningful, as you likely held grudges against people you saw on a regular basis.
This is much different than modern-day parishes, where the congregation is constantly changing, and you don’t even know the person standing next to you.
Nevertheless, the spiritual meaning behind the sign of peace remains, urging all of us to reconcile with our brothers and sisters before approaching the altar (Mt 5:23–24).