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Answer the Call

Religious education programs around the country are busy pleading for volunteers to teach and assist with the upcoming school year. I really can understand why so many are reluctant to take on this mission. In the ideal world the bulk of the catechesis occurs at home and the religious education classes are an enrichment of the faith passed on by parents. Unfortunately, reality looks quite different. The children often have little support for their faith at home. Sports, travel, or just sleeping in trumps getting to Mass on Sundays. Family prayer is not much more than an occasional grace before meals. Being Catholic is more of a social construct than a spiritual one. Is being a catechist worth the effort? Pope Benedict XVI thinks so.

In response to another question about what do with the children and young people who request First Communion and Conformation but do not appear to be ready to persevere in the faith, Benedict XVI confessed that “when I was younger I was stricter. I said, the sacraments are the sacraments of the faith, and therefore where there is no faith, there is no praxis of faith, and thus the sacrament cannot be conferred. And I discussed this latter with my priests when I was Archbishop of Munich. (…) As time has gone on I have come to understand that we must follow always the example of the Lord, who was very open to those on the fringes of Israel at that time as well, He was a Lord of mercy, very open—according to many official authorities—with sinners, embracing them and allowing himself to be welcomed at their dinners, attracting them to communion with Him.”

“If we can perceive even a flicker of desire for communion in the Church, a desire also of these children who want to enter into communion with Jesus, I think it is fair to be more generous. Naturally of course, one aspect of our catechesis should be to make it understood that Communion, First Communion, is not an ending event, but rather demands a continual friendship with Jesus, a journey with Jesus,” the Pope continued.

“In these sense, naturally we should do everything possible in the context of the preparation of the sacraments, in order to reach the parents as well and thus make them aware of the journey they are on with the children. They should help their children to follow their own desire to enter into friendship with Jesus,” the Holy Father said.

“If parents have the desire for their children to make their First Communion, this desire, often a social one, should be extended to a religious desire, in order to make a journey towards Jesus possible,” the Pope stressed.


So when your director of religious education begs for teachers think about answering the call. I’ll be honest. You may never see the full fruits of your labors. You will be frustrated. But with the help of the Holy Spirit you will guide children and their parents along their journey with Jesus. Most definitely, it is worth the effort.

Comments

Michelle said…
Good quote from the Pope.

I never understood the practice of denying Baptism to children whose parents didn't attend regularly. The graces from that sacrament might be the only thing that draws them to God as an adult.
Ginkgo100 said…
I am getting ready to start my second year as a confirmation catechist this fall, and previously I taught one First Communion class. I can bear witness that it is a particularly rewarding way to serve.
mallys said…
And you may be surprised at the fruits you see. Last year the catechist in my parish who taught my grandson was a young lady that I taught in her high school class years ago--in another city!

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