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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Catechesis being discussed in Argentina

The Holy Father, Pope Francis has sent a message to those who are participating in an International Symposium on Catechesis which is taking place from 11 to 14 July 2017 in Buenos Aires, at the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (UCA).  This gathering has been organized by the Episcopal Commission for Catechesis and Biblical Studies.

Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
to those taking part in the
International Symposium on Catechesis

His Excellency, Ramón Alfredo Dus
Archbishop of Resistencia
President of the Episcopal Commission for Catechesis and Biblical Studies

Dear brother,

A cordial greeting to you and to all those who are participating in the various formation meetings which have been organized by the Episcopal Commission for Catechesis and Pastoral Studies.

When one of the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi urged him to teach him how to preach, he replied: Brother, when we visit the sick, help the children and feed the poor, we are preaching.  The vocation and task of the catechist is contained in this beautiful lesson.

In the first place, catechesis is not a job or a task external to the person of the catechist, rather it is a matter of being catechist in ever facet of life which is part of the mission.  In fact, being a catechist is a vocation of service within the Church: that which has been received as a gift from the Lord must be passed on.  Therefore, the catechist must constantly return to the first call that was proclaimed, the kerygma which is the gift that changed his life.  It is the fundamental proclamation that must resonate again and again the life of the Christian, and even more so in the life of the one who has been called to proclaim and to teach the faith.  There is nothing more solid, more profound, more secure, more meaningful or more wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation (Evangelii Gaudium, 165).  This proclamation should accompany the faith that is already present in the religiosity of our people.  This necessitates taking care of all the potential for piety and love that is found in popular religiosity so that not only the content of faith can be taught but also that a school of formation can be formulated, where the gift of faith which has been received can be cultivated in order that our actions and words may reflect the grace of being disciples of Jesus.

The catechist walks along with Christ, he is not a person who stands on his own ideas and preferences, but rather one who is constantly looking for Him, for the regard that makes his heart burn with love.  The more that Jesus takes up his place at the centre of the life of the catechist, the more he makes us go out from ourselves, turn away from being self-centred, and the more he brings us close to others.  This dynamism of the heart is like the movement of the heart: the systolic and the diastolic; focused on meeting the Lord and immediately opening oneself out of love for Him, in order to bear witness to Jesus, to speak of Jesus, to preach Jesus.  He himself showed us how to do this: he retired to a deserted place in order to pray to the Father and immediately he then went out to meet those who were hungry and thirsty for God, in order to heal and save them.  From that place, arises importance of mystagogical catechesis which is the constant encounter with the Word and with the sacraments and not something merely occasional, prior to the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation.  Christian life is a process of growth and integration of all the dimensions of the person in a communal journey of listening and responding (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 166).

The catechist is also creative; he always seeks different ways and means to proclaim Christ.  It is good to believe in Jesus, because He is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6): the one who fills our life with pride and joy.  This quest to make the supreme beauty of Jesus known leads us to find new signs and ways to transmit the faith.  The means may be different but the important thing is to keep Jesus' style present, a style that is capable of adapting to those who stood before him in order to share the love of God with them.  We need to know how to change, adapt, in order to bring the message even closer, even though it is always the same, because God does not change; rather, he makes all things new in himself.  In the creative quest to make Jesus known, we should never be afraid for he always precedes us in that task.  He is already present in every man of today, waiting for us there.

Dear catechists, I thank you for what you are doing, but most of all because you are walking with the People of God.  I encourage you to be joyful messengers, guardians of all the good and beauty that shines in the faithful life of a missionary disciple.

May Jesus bless you and may the holy Virgin, the true teacher of faith, care for you.

And, please, don't forget to pray for me.

From the Vatican
5 July 2017

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