Sunday, September 19, 2010

Catechetical Sunday

Today we observe Catechetical Sunday, a day that the church in the United States sets aside each year in the early fall when parish religious education begins anew to recognize those who perform the vital ministry of catechesis. Apart from the liturgy and serving the poor, there is nothing that takes place in our parish that is more important than catechesis. Besides, it is only through catechesis that we learn about the necessary connection, made so emphatic by the prophet Amos in our first reading today, between worshipping God and serving the poor, the sick, the widow, and the prisoner. Today, when there are so many things competing for the attention of young people, much of it toxic, in no aspect of our faith do we need to be more shrewd that in passing the faith to the next generation, using all the various means at our disposal, especially those of mass media, like the internet, to proclaim the Good News that is Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the best way to translate word catechesis into contemporary English is to say that catechesis means to resound. What we re-sound, or give new voice to, is the Gospel, which we ourselves received from others dedicated to this same ministry. The catechist is the one commissioned by the community to give voice to the Gospel.

As one who has dedicated a large portion of my adult life to catechesis, I reflect often on these words from St. Paul to the Romans: "'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring (the) good news'" (10:13-15). As the steward for catechesis at The Cathedral of the Madeleine, I am very grateful for those who labor with me in this corner of the Lord’s vineyard. It is only fitting that today we send them, that is, commission them, for this life-giving work to which they are called and with gratitude for their heeding the Lord’s call.

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