The Church that the Lord Jesus Christ asked to “go out to all the world and tell the good news (Mark 15:16)” has had its share of “not so good news” this summer. It will make the work of the catechist this particular year harder, for sure. But it is not a reason to stop catechizing. In fact, it makes catechesis even more urgent, more compelling, more necessary to follow the Lord’s command.
I find myself spending a lot more time in my chapel these days, in early morning or late at night, sitting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I search for words, for ideas, for prayers – but, more often than not, I find silence. In that silence, however, I have come to the grateful realization that my faith is still strong. In fact, despite all the education and degrees I have been fortunate enough to have received, my faith is very simple.
Related: Listen to Bishop talk about Catechetical Sunday
It is the uncomplicated faith of the child my parents raised, loved and taught to believe in God, to trust God, to love God. It is the uncomplicated faith that grew stronger and deeper in Catholic school, thanks to the good sisters and teachers who picked up where Mom and Dad left off at home. It is the uncomplicated faith that kept me coming back for more. And when I closed the Catechism and religion textbooks, I had something to hold on to for the rest of the day. I still hold on to it.
Catechetical Sunday this year – every year, really – is the occasion to renew and be renewed in a simple faith. Catechists are, once more, commissioned in our parishes to lift up and hand on to young people what they/we believe in our heart of hearts about the God who created and loves us, about God’s presence among us, about God’s desire to hold us close and never let us go, no matter what happens around us. Those are the simple, uncomplicated things that catechists in the Church teach and nurture in the young people who come to us in our parishes for religious education, so that they can hold on to them in a very complicated, anything-but-simple world that wants to convince them otherwise, that wants to take them away. Simple things last.
A month from now, the Catholic Church will canonize Pope Paul VI, who once wrote something very instructive for catechists. “Modern man (woman),” he observed, “listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he/she does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses (apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, Dec. 8, 1975, no. 41).” Being a “witness,” like faith itself, is a simple thing: one needs only to live what he or she believes. A good teacher, a good catechist does that. And when he or she does, his or her catechesis and witness will result in “enlisting witnesses for Jesús Christ.”
And, so, with that in mind, dear catechists: Go out to all the world and tell – live, “witness” – the Good News. It’s that simple.