Dear Brother and Sister Catechist:
Every second Saturday in March we have a chance to meet at the EAC (Archdiocesan Catechetical Meeting). There time together retook annual catechesis, focusing on a core idea that will accompany us throughout the year. It is an intense moment of meeting, party, communion, I treasure and I’m sure you do too.
Now, approaching the Feast of St. Pius X, patron of catechists, I would like to address each of you through this letter. In between activities, when fatigue begins to be felt, I encourage you, as a father and brother, and invite them to take a break to reflect together on some aspect of catechetical ministry.
I do realize that, as a bishop, I am called to be the first catechist of the diocese … But mostly I wanted, hereby overcome something anonymity of the big city itself, which often prevents personal encounter, certainly all seek. Furthermore, it can be a more couple go drawing lines common to archdiocesan catechetical ministry, allowing fund unit within the logic and sound plurality own a city as large and complex as Buenos Aires.
In this letter, I preferred not to dwell on some aspect of catechetical praxis, but rather in the person of the catechist.
Numerous documents remind us that the entire Christian community is responsible for catechesis. Something logical, since catechesis is an aspect of evangelization. And the whole Church is the evangelization, therefore, at this period of education and understanding of the mystery of the person of Christ “should not only procure catechists or priests, but the whole community of the faithful …” (CT 16). Catechesis would be seriously
compromised if action will be relegated to isolated and lonely of catechists. So never be few efforts made in this awareness. The path taken years ago in search of a pastoral program, has contributed significantly to a greater commitment to the entire Christian community in this responsibility to initiate and educate Christian maturity in faith. In the scope of this responsibility of the Christian community in the transmission of faith, I can not help rescue the reality of the person of the catechist.
The Church recognizes the catechist a form of ministry, throughout history, has allowed Jesus known through generations. Not in an exclusive manner, but in a special way, the Church recognizes in this portion of the People of God to witness that chain which tells the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The believer has received faith from others .. . it as a link in the great chain of believers. I can not believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support the faith of others … ” (CATIC 166).
Everyone, to remember our own personal process of growth in faith, catechists discover simple faces, with their witness of life and generous, helping us meet and fall in love with Christ. I remember with affection and gratitude to Sister Dolores, Mercy College of Flores: I was the one who prepared for First Communion and Confirmation. And until recently still lived another of my catechists: I did well visit, or receive or call her. Today too many young people and adults who quietly, humbly and from the plain, remain instruments of the Lord to build the community and make the Kingdom.
So today I think of every catechist, highlighting an aspect that I think under the circumstances we live has greater urgency: the catechist and his personal relationship with the Lord.
With all lucidity warns John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte “Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of” making do. “We must resist this temptation by trying to be before you do. recall in this regard the reproach of Jesus to Martha: “you restless and fret about so many things, but one thing is necessary …” (Luke 10, 41-42 ) (John Paul II, NMI 15).
In being and vocation of every Christian is the personal encounter with the Lord. To seek God is to seek His face, is like stepping into their privacy. Every vocation, much of the catechist, presupposes a question “Teacher, where are you staying? Come and see …” From the quality of the response of a deep encounter arise the quality of our mediation as catechists. The church is on this “come and see”. Personal encounter and intimacy with the Master underlying true discipleship and to ensure genuine taste of catechesis, always stalking away rationalism and idelogizaciones current vitality and sterilized to remove the Good News.
Catechesis catechists need of saints, that catching your very presence, to help with their witness of life to overcome individualistic civilization dominated by a “minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity”. (NMI 31). Today more than ever urgent need of being found by Love, who always takes the initiative to help men to experience the Good News of the meeting.
Today more than ever, you can discover behind many demands of our people, a search of the Absolute that, at times, takes the form of painful cry of outraged humanity: “We want to see Jesus” (John 12:21). Many faces, with a most telling silence a thousand words, we made this request. We know them well: they are among us, are part of that faithful people God entrusts to us. Faces of children, youth, adults … Some of them are pure gaze “beloved disciple” others, looking down from prodigal son. No missing faces marked by pain and despair.
But all hope, look, wish to see Jesus. And why need of believers, especially the catechists who “not only ‘talk’ of Christ but, in a way, that they do ‘see’ …. Hence, our witness would be hopelessly inadequate if we we were not first contemplated his face “(NMI 16).
Today more than ever present difficulties force, whom God calls, to comfort his people, to take root in prayer, to “approach the most paradoxical aspect of his mystery, the hour of the Cross” (NMI 27). Just from a personal encounter with the Lord, we can play the diakonia of tenderness, not break us or leave us overwhelmed by the presence of pain and suffering.
Today more than ever it is necessary that any movement towards the brother, all ecclesial service, have the budget and basis of proximity and familiarity with the Lord. Just as Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, rich service attitudes and joy, only understood and became true deep experience of meeting and listening occurred in the silence of Nazareth.
Our people are tired of words do not need so many teachers, but witnesses …
And the witness is consolidated in the interior, in the encounter with Jesus Christ. Every Christian, but much more the catechist must be permanently a disciple of Master in the art of prayer. “We must learn to pray, learning this art ever anew from the lips of the Divine Master, like the first disciples:” Lord, teach us to pray. “(Luke 11:1). Prayer develops in this dialogue with Christ that makes us his intimate: “Abide in me as I abide in you” (John 15:4) (NMI 32).
Hence, Jesus’ invitation to sail offshore we understand as a call to encourage us to abandon deep in prayer as to avoid the action of the thorns that choke the seed. Sometimes our fishing is fruitless because we do in his name, because we are too concerned about our networks … and forget to do it and by Him
These times are not easy, there are times for passengers enthusiasm for spiritualities spasmodic sentimentalists or Gnostic. The Catholic Church has a rich spiritual tradition, with many different teachers who can guide and nurture a genuine spirituality that now makes possible the diakonia of listening and pastoral encounter. In the perusal and receptive of Chapter III of the Pope’s letter Novo Millennio Inenunte, find the inspiration for much of what I wanted to share with you. Just to finish, I encourage you to ask them to reinforce all essential for the spiritual life of every Christian and more for a catechist.
The personal encounter and live through a prayerful reading of the Word of God.
I thank the Lord because His Word is increasingly present in the meetings of catechists. I know well that many advances in biblical formation of catechists. But there is a risk of getting a cold or use of text exegesis of Scripture if missing personal encounter, irreplaceable rumination every believer and every community must make the Word to produce the “vital meeting in ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives “(NMI 39). The catechist and find the inspiration for all his pedagogy, which is necessarily marked by the love that is nearby, offering and communion.
The live personally and through the Eucharist.
All experience joy as this Church and daily close presence of the Risen Lord to the end of the story. Central mystery of our faith that makes us stronger and communion in mission. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that in the Eucharist we find all the good of the Church. Here we have the certainty that God is faithful to his promise and stayed until the end of time (Mt 28:20).
In the visit and adoration experience the closeness of the Good Shepherd, the tenderness of his love, the presence of a true friend. We’ve all experienced the help offered so great faith, deep personal dialogue with the Blessed Sacrament. And the catechist can not give in to this beautiful vocation of telling what is contemplated (I Jn 1 ff.).
In celebration of the Breaking of Bread are challenged once again, to imitate his delivery, and renew the multiplication unprecedented gesture of solidarity actions. From the Eucharistic Banquet Church Communion experience and is invited to implement the projimidad miracle by which is possible in this globalized world give space to the brother and make the poor feel in each community at home (cf. NMI 50). The catechist is called to make the doctrine becomes life message and the message. Only then, the Word proclaimed may be held and become truly a sacrament of Communion.
The community meeting and festive celebration Sunday.
In the Sunday Eucharist is updated Passover Pass Lord who wanted to enter the history to make us sharers in his divine life. We congregate every Sunday as God’s family gathered around the altar, which feeds the Living Bread, and that brings and holds what happened on the road, to renew his strength and keep shouting that he lives among us. At every Sunday Mass experience our cordial membership to the People of God which were incorporated by Baptism and we “memory” of the “first day of the week” (Mark 16,2.9). In today’s world, often sick of secularism and consumerism, it seems to be losing the ability to hold, to live as a family. Therefore, the catechist is called to commit their lives to not rob us on Sunday, helping in the heart of man and the party is over copper meaning and fulfillment their journey a week.
Santa Teresita, with the power of synthesis own large and simple souls wrote to one of his sisters, summarizing what the Christian life: “Loving and loved …” This is also the reason for every catechist. Only if there is a personal encounter can be an instrument for others to find.
To greet the day of the catechist, I want to thank all your heart to the service delivery of the faithful. And ask Mary to keep alive in your heart that thirsts for God to not ever get tired of searching his face.
Do not forget to pray for me to be a good catechist. May Jesus bless you and take care of you the Holy Virgin.
Buenos Aires, August 2001.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ
Archbishop of Buenos Aires