The role of the Catechist – Jan 19
Regenerating Moral and Spiritual Values
“I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way” – Living Sermon.
Catechists are called to echo the faith: we echo it best by our lives. The physical vision of a catechist in the Maloney parish in East Trinidad has become severely impaired over time. The vision which he has brought to his candidates over the years, however, has been perfected, as he bears witness to both his deep faith and commitment to passing on that faith. By this ‘picture’ of joyful service, he paints a thousand words about the moral and spiritual values which he teaches. He is becoming the ‘living sermon’ described in the well-known poem.
Our archdiocese is now focusing on the priority of Regenerating Moral and Spiritual Values at this stage of our synod journey. At this stage the words of the Living Sermon may serve as a useful reminder to both catechists and parents who function in an increasingly cynical milieu, that we too are called to emulate the spirit of St Francis of Assisi who embraced what he saw as a privilege “to convert the world…rather by example than by word.”
Pope Francis has emphasised the need for us all to live and not merely mouth Gospel values. By becoming a “living sermon” himself, through reaching out to the poor and marginalised, the Francis of our time is himself showing the way to teach the faith – by many examples that provide pictures which are worth a thousand words. The Pope continually reminds us that we are in fact called to emulate the example of Christ himself in our daily lives as he reiterates that “God abases himself, descends to earth as someone small and poor, which means that to be like him, we must not put ourselves above others, but on the contrary, abase ourselves, give ourselves in service…” His words seem particularly apt for us as teachers of the faith who, in embracing our role with the utmost enthusiasm, run the risk of not acknowledging that even as we facilitate the journey in faith of those to whom we seek to echo the faith, we too are on a similar journey.
In his recent encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis initially states that “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”. If catechists are therefore to echo the faith and joy of the gospel, we must be joyful when we do our part in regenerating moral and spiritual values. Perhaps we can ensure that catechetics is part of the conversation in our parishes when we seek to make ourselves “small with the small and poor with the poor” in the midst of the work of catechesis. We can work with those candidates through whom we encounter Christ, to encourage them to also ‘see’ the Christ in persons in their homes, the parish and wider community in the practical way that, as our new Pope reminds, is part of our Catholic teaching.
We live in challenging but exciting times when our privilege to echo the faith can expand into areas of service to the poor that can mean life-changing teaching moments for us all. Let us explore and embrace the challenge of this period together!
Archdiocesan Catechetical Office
Eastern Vicariate Catechetical Coordinator
I’d rather see a sermon
than to hear one any day
I’d rather one should walk with me
than merely show the way.
I can soon learn how to do it
if you’d let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action
but your tongue too fast may run.
All the lectures you deliver
may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by
observing what you do.
Though I might not understand you
and the fine advice you give,
There is no misunderstanding
how you act
and how you live.