Last week I shared a few thoughts with you on our joint role and responsibility as ministers in the Ministry of Mission; in the words of Jesus, ‘to make disciples of all nations, [and to] baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ as we have just heard in today’s gospel. As you know it is a mission of service to our brothers and sisters, the children of God. Last week’s main theme centred on the celebration of the Liturgy and our participation in it, sharing the same table.
Today I want to share with you some thoughts on a Ministry that fulfils the Lords’ commands and is both essential and logical. It hasn’t been given as high a profile as the ministries of ‘Reader’ and ‘Eucharistic Minister’, but it is one we have all received through our baptism! It is the ‘Ministry of Catechist’ and to illustrate what I mean, I’m going to read the opening paragraph of an article published in the Tablet magazine from last weeks issue dated the 22nd. May. The title of the featured article is ‘Partners in Mission’ written by Diana Klein. She writes:
‘Pope Francis has created a new lay ministry of the catechist. You might say this is a natural progression in the Pope’s desire to encourage the greater participation of laymen and -women in the leadership of the Catholic church. But Francis is merely giving formal recognition to a ministry that has been part of the life of the Church for centuries. He has deliberately called his apostolic letter Antiquum Ministerium,which means “ancient ministry”.’ The author continues ‘Since Vatican II, the Church has come to a renewed appreciation of the importance of lay involvement in the work of evangelisation. Catechists make an outstanding and necessary contribution to the spread of faith – and this is particularly important today, when the number of priests is sharply declining in many parts of the Church. …. Education and ongoing formation of believers is a priority for a missionary Church.’
As you know, in our parish we are blessed with catechists who prepare children for their first Holy Communion and for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Deacon Michael Hughes has taken on the mantle of baptismal preparation from Deacon Paul White since the departure of Deacon Paul to St Patrick’s in Bridgwater, and when required, Michael will be in charge of Marriage preparation for those Catholics living in the parish, even if they have planned to celebrate their marriage in another parish, or outside of the Diocese or abroad.
To catechise is to instruct someone in the faith, and the first paragraph in chapter VIII in the Directory of Catechesis begins ‘Every one of the baptised, called to the maturity of faith, has the right to adequate catechesis. It is therefore the Church’s task to respond to this in a satisfactory manner. The gospel is not intended for humanity in the abstract, but for each human being, real, concrete, historical, rooted in a particular situation and marked by psychological, social, cultural, and religious dynamics, because “each one is included in the mystery of the Redemption.”
That explanation of what it means to ‘catechise’ – ‘to teach’, may cause some people concern, and perhaps put some people off from the prospect of ‘passing on the faith’, but those of you here at this celebration are already ‘passing on the faith.’ Your neighbours don’t need ‘facial recognition cameras’ to know when you leave home at a certain time on a Saturday or Sunday that you are coming to mass! They know that you are a Christian, an anointed one; they know that if you have young children the day your sons or daughters will be receiving their First Holy Communion, what school they attend and so on.
Whether the People of God realise it or not, every time they make the sign of the cross, before meals, after meals, at home, in a restaurant or pub, they are announcing the Holy Trinity both to their family, friends and anyone else who may be watching. Our personal catechesis has been subliminal, copied from our parents, our grandparents, perhaps our aunts and uncles. Religious sisters have had a profound influence on many a child’s attitude to faith, and I suspect that as great an influence has come from our school friends, or friends we have met at work, not forgetting our spouses! To live a Christian life is to be a Catechist, a Missionary, and everyone’s individual journey of faith is worthy of being shared.
Pope Francis in re-establishing the “ancient ministry” is highlighting the need for laymen and-women, to become instructors in the joy of faith, a faith that expresses God’s love to and for all humanity. Every community where laughter is heard and joy experienced is a welcoming community, and as soon as lockdown is done and dusted, that will be our opportunity to celebrate our faith in full voice.
Details of Holy Communion preparation will be announced before the Summer Holidays, and will be taken in three separate groups. The first group will start in September this year, which will be the group who had started their preparation but was swiftly curtailed by the first lockdown: they will receive the sacrament before Christmas. The 2nd group, namely those who were to have received their 1st. Holy Communion this month, will start their preparation after Christmas, and receive the sacrament before Easter ’22, and the 3rd. group will comprise those children due to receive the sacrament next Summer. Their preparation will start after easter ’22 and they will receive the sacrament before the Summer Holidays in 2022.
Children’s Liturgy will recommence after June 21st. -all being well- and Cymone is always ready to greet willing catechists to help the children with open arms.
There are copies of the featured article ‘Partners in Mission’ from the Tablet on the small table at the back of Church.