Friends, greetings and blessings to all of you.
One of the most important activities for people of faith, that is all of you, is to pass onto others the beauty of the Catholic faith. As we approach Catechetical Sunday on September 20th, it is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each of us, each baptized person, plays in handing on the faith and being a bold witness to the Gospel. The theme for this year is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians: “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.”
Invitation to a Whole New Life
This theme focuses on the essential work of catechesis – that being an invitation to a whole new life offered and given by Christ Himself. The work of all catechesis and catechists is to assist us in the active living of our faith, as well as to inspire others who hear the Word to be active witnesses of the true and living God in Christ Jesus.
Catechetical Sunday is a reminder of the importance of life-long catechesis for all Christians, not just a kick-off to the program year. I think often times Catholics forget that learning about our faith is a life-long process. Tragically, it seems that so often religious formation ends with First Communion or Confirmation, and many adults have only the religious formation of a child.
Relationship with Jesus
This is very sad to me because as we engage in religious education, no matter what our age, the Lord Jesus draws us into a deeper relationship with him. Who wouldn’t want this? Who among us doesn’t want a deeper relationship with Jesus?
In my own history, it was only when I began to take my faith seriously, and found myself in a parish bible study, did my relationship with Jesus really become a living reality. Prior to that time, it seemed like I was just going through the motions and my own knowledge of the faith remained that of a child. It was when I became engaged in adult catechesis that I discovered who Jesus really was for me, which ultimately led me down the path to priesthood. Going from being a pilot to a priest would have never happened without engaging some personal form of catechesis in my own life. So it is clear that catechesis is for everyone…and it changes lives.
As a community of faith – as the Body of Christ – Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all us to rededicate ourselves to this mission. In the words of St. Theresa of Avila, “Christ has no body on earth but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours…...”
Every Parish and Every Christian
Catechesis is the responsibility of every parish and every Christian. Having said this, catechists are called in a particular way to share the Catholic Faith with children, youth and adults. Their activity is rooted in the personal call from Jesus Christ and the catechist's own relationship with him – this lived express of the words of St. Paul: “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.”
While catechists are called to share the Catholic Faith in a systematic way, they are not the only ones who catechize. Parents, you too hold a special place in this mission of Jesus because you are truly the first catechists of your children. Parents, by your daily example of life, you have the most effective capacity to transmit the beauty of the Christian faith, your faith, to your children.”
Union with Jesus
Friends, in the end, when done well, catechesis is a beautiful gift from both parents and catechists to children, youth and other adults, helping them to grow and mature in their "longing and deep desire for union with Jesus" by coming to know him more deeply. Again, isn’t that what we all want?
As we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, I want to acknowledge the catechists all across the Diocese of Saginaw. Accept my deep gratitude for your very important ministry in sharing what you have “received from the Lord” and are handing on to others – the love and mission of Jesus Christ. What a gift you are to all of us.
I wish many blessings upon your ministry this year, especially in these COVID times, when the challenges to carry out this important ministry are many. But I would like to impart a blessing upon all of you.
So let us pray:
Loving Father, we pray today for our catechists. We thank you for their gift of ministry in your Church. Grant them your wisdom that they may grow in the understanding and teaching of your Word. Grant them also your love that they may be fruitful heralds of your Word and lead others to love you.
Pour forth your Holy Spirit upon them to grant them wisdom about what is important; knowledge of the truths of faith; understanding of their meaning; right judgement about how to apply them in life; courage to persevere even in the face of adversity; reverence before all that is sacred and holy; and that loving zeal which leads others to a transforming encounter with your Son. We pray this through Christ, our Lord. Amen
May Almighty God bless all of you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.