Catechists as Disciples

When Jesus said “come follow me,” he didn’t say when it’s sunny outside and the temperatures are moderate, when you have plenty of time, when your children are healthy and grown, in effect, when “all is right” in our world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that all the time — sometimes yes, but often not.

I saw discipleship last week in technicolor, in our parishes, and it was just a small sample of the many people who have answered their call in a very personal way not only to hear the word of God but also to take action.

Catechetical Sunday is coming Sept. 18, the day or the weekend when catechists in parishes are commissioned as teachers to form children and adults in our faith, to teach lessons with books and most importantly by example.

While preparing lessons takes time and some effort, preparing young people to lead their lives with faith can be much harder. Parents notice early in children’s lives that children see and hear us more clearly than we could ever imagine. If they see our generosity, our openness to others, our enthusiasm for social justice and our church, chances are they will hold these ideas, attitudes and beliefs as dear as we do.

If we disregard the rights of others, use language that belittles or denigrates people because of their race or ethnic background, our children will follow those cues as well. If we have been reading, watching or listening to anything in the news or on social media, we know the awful price that some people have paid because of the complete disregard some have for the lives of others. It’s both tragic and shameful.

It will take all of us as disciples to turn people away from hate, and make sure everyone’s life is valued, even cherished as we do those in our own families because we are, in the end, all part of the same human family. Maybe we need to remind one another of our common humanity, be better examples and share our views about the important contributions everyone makes in our society.

Those catechists that teach the children, spend time with them, care for them are our greatest allies in passing on our faith that is both ancient and new. Every time a youngster looks at himself or herself in a new way as a child of God and can then look at his or her classmates differently, perhaps with a clearer vision after learning more about our faith and the people who care about us and our children, we have succeeded in making a slight change in the world for the better.

So, to the catechists who go to class every day before public school begins, on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening or spend all of Sunday morning with someone else’s children, thank you. We know you’re also spending time with lesson plans, doing extra reading and listening to our children, to help us prepare them for the sacraments, to learn about their faith so they can use it as a guide for the rest of their lives .