Catechesis offered in sacramental preparation is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end, the end being to help us as Church to accomplish the mission of the Church. We should move on from just acquiring knowledge to allowing ourselves to be formed in the way of Jesus. But again it does not end there. Having been formed in the way of Jesus there must be commitment to living our lives as Jesus did and being open to missionary activity in our homes, workplaces and everywhere we live out our daily lives.
The mission of the Church given by Christ is to go make disciples of every nation. What then is a disciple? The disciple is one who has encountered Christ and enters into a relationship with Him. The disciple is a person who wants to be close to Jesus and is willing to give up one’s lifestyle to follow Jesus. A disciple is constantly growing in the way of Jesus and growing closer to Jesus. This requires a firm commitment.
The content and methodology of our catechetical programmes are designed to encourage discipleship. The proper implementation of the programmes should invite participants to come to know and follow Christ and to be formed in Christ’s ways, thus bringing about transformation in their lives. Catechists therefore must be in an intimate relationship with Christ if they are to offer a genuine invitation to others to follow Christ.
Pope Francis stated in his September 27, 2013 address to catechists that “they must start anew with Christ”:-
1. Listen and learn from Him.
2. Make Christ the centre of their lives.
3. Move out of their comfort zones to make disciples.
The needs of the candidates must be assessed. Catechesis is more than information dissemination, it is about formation. Classes must contain the following elements:-
1. Prayer elements that are meaningful and which help the candidates to develop a life of prayer.
2. Adequate study of the word of God so that candidates understand what being a disciple is all about.
3. Practice of the rituals so that the meaning of the rituals of the Mass and other elements of the faith are understood in context.
4. Faith exercises linked to justice. This can include hamper distribution to needy families, assisting at homework centres, etc.
The Body of Christ
As Church we are the Body of Christ in this world. A sense of responsibility must be conveyed and those being catechised must come to a point of acceptance of that responsibility. This responsibility includes:-
1. Accepting that our gifts and talents are to be used to build the body of Christ and promote the reign of God.
2. Being willing to work with all for the sake of the Kingdom.
3. A readiness to contribute time, talent and treasure towards the building of God’s Kingdom.
4. Development of a prayer-centred life through exposure to different forms of prayer and commitment especially to the Mass.
5. Attendance at the sacraments, the life-blood of the Church.
In this age where we are more influenced by secular thinking, many will be tempted to stay away from communal life and pray at home, educate themselves in the faith through DVDs, and contribute charitably on a personal level. This is all well and good and might be convenient for those with busy schedules but communal living is very important for faith development. It is where the love of God flourishes.
We were created in the image and likeness of the Trinity, we were created for communal living and so we are only at our best when we work together in community. The Church is this community; though not perfect, it is the place where the Holy Spirit flourishes. Meaningful catechesis, both for sacramental classes and continuing formation for adults, will transform parishes and make them sacraments for their environment. Through meaningful catechesis people will truly live out their vocation to be Catholic. God’s love will fill us and flow out to others in a profound way.
– Bernadette Gopaul Ramkhalawan, Archdiocesan Catechetical Office,