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 into relationship with God.
This mission comes from the great command, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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).
St 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.
From creation to now, God meets with and reveals Himself to all of humanity in various ways – through people, situations, things and experiences. He also reveals Himself through the Church: in holy scripture, her teachings, and all of her traditions.
All Christians are supposed to be on mission to “know God”; this is the divine agenda; a mission Jesus was sent for – “so that they will know the Father” (Jn 14:6; 17:2). Jesus is the divine compass which God uses to guide people to Him, and it is only through Christ will we find God (Jn 14:6).
Embarking on any journey requires planning and preparation. This may invoke all kinds of emotions – anxiety, excitement, apprehension, and sometimes fear, hoping and praying that all goes well.
The other thing is accompaniment, wanting people who are likeminded and who are willing to share in the experiences ahead; people who are open to enjoying the moment as you are.
Another part of the process is acquiring information on both the destination and the directions for getting 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 and when you arrive. It is not unusual for every person on that journey to have varied experiences and encounters, at varied times.
The Catechetical Mission is to bring people into an encounter with Jesus, and through Him find their path to God. This journey, similar to the one previously described, can trigger all kinds of emotions – anxiety, excitement, anticipation, apprehension, fear and even loneliness.
But with the right companionships and support, all will go well. The 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.
The experiences from these encounters will vary from person to person – after all, who dictates how, when, where, and why God choses to reveal Godself to you?
To achieve this catechetical goal requires all hands on deck as it is in its entirety, a reflection 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 deeds. 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 embraced the mission. It is a proclamation of “all that they have seen and what they have heard” (Acts 4:20) having accepted the invitation to follow Jesus.
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 go out of the upper room and catechise. Motivated by the same Holy Spirit, we too must be encouraged in doing the same by growing beyond the pews.
Visit the ACO @ catecheticsrc.org