September 16, 2005

2005 Religious Education Supplement

Catechesis helps us find life in Christ

By Harry Dudley
Archdiocesan Executive Director for Faith Formation

How can three simple words change your entire life? Ask the young man who hears for the first time the words “I love you” from the woman he loves. Those three words, given and received, can bring two people together for a lifetime commitment, celebrated with the exchange of marriage vows.

On this Catechetical Sunday, Catholics across the country asked to consider three different words that reflect an even deeper, more encompassing love: Life is Christ. These words proclaim the reality of the good news of Christ’s abundance, extended to us by God the Father. These, too, are life-changing words.

When St. Paul reminds us that “life is Christ,” (Phil 1:21), he is helping us to recognize that the Lord Jesus is both the foundation and the guide for our lives. St. Paul’s words remind us not only how we are to live but also what we are to teach others.

St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians is rich with encouragement and advice. We are encouraged to “conduct [ourselves] in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ,” (1:27) to “do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory,” (2:3) to “rejoice in the Lord always,” (4:4) and to “keep on doing what [we] have learned and received” (4:9). When we live this way, we are living in Christ and teaching others to do the same.

Talking about being a disciple of Christ is one thing; actually living as a disciple is another. Following the example of St. Paul – one of the Church’s most dedicated catechists – we can approach the challenge of living as a disciple by seeking ways to be mindful of the Christ’s life within us.

The new National Directory for Catechesis (NDC) in the United States, released this past May, tells us why catechesis is so important in helping us to conduct ourselves in a way worth of the Gospel of Christ. In paragraph #20 on the tasks of catechesis, the NDC says that catechesis:

Promotes knowledge of the faith. Therefore focus on your need to grow in knowledge of the faith. The more we learn about our faith and the better we understand it, the better we will be able to share it with others. Participate in parish Adult Faith Formation programs. If the times don’t work for you consider taking advantage of our Archdiocese’s partnership with the University of Dayton and take an on-line course at a discount. Visit to see what courses are available.

Promotes knowledge of the meaning of the Liturgy and the sacraments. Therefore, participate actively in and reflect on the liturgy and sacraments. All of us should reflect on the meaning of the sacraments for our lives. What do they strengthen us for and what do they call us to be and to do? These questions are only for those who receive sacraments for the first time but for all of us.

Promotes moral formation in Jesus Christ. Therefore strive to live what you believe. Think how different our family life, work life and society would be if we gave witness both in private lives and in the public arena – to Christ’s teaching in everyday life.

Teaches the Christian how to pray with Christ. Therefore make a commitment to grow in faith. How much time do we spend in personal prayer each day? Try to increase it by the end of the year. Spend more time with Christ in the Eucharist. Make an effort to receive the Eucharist several times during the week. Take time to pray in the presence of the Eucharist at the end of Mass, even if only for a few minutes.

Prepares the Christian to live in community and to participate actively in the life and mission of the Church. Therefore think of how we can be better stewards of our time, talent and treasure. Ask your parish leadership how you can help in the mission of the church – at the parish, the Archdiocesan and Universal Church levels.

• Promotes a missionary spirit that prepares the faithful to be present as Christians in society. Therefore:

• Contribute where possible to the good of society. Jesus tells us that when we take care of the needs of others, we do it for him, so be attentive to other people. Everyday we are presented with opportunities to reach out to others and offer acts of caring and compassion. Most recently we are all very conscious of the great losses experienced by Hurricane Katrina and are seeking ways to help.

• Be active in the pursuit of justice. The Catholic life is never just about “me and Jesus.” It calls us to open our eyes to the plight of people who suffer because of corrupted political or social systems and structures. By steeping ourselves in an understanding of Catholic social teaching, we discover that the life is possible when are all are treated with dignity and respect.

On Catechetical Sunday, parishes across the nation recognize and commission those men and women who serve the Church as catechists, as they are called to publicly share in the Church’s ministry of handing on the faith.

As part of the larger faith community, we give thanks and pray for all who accept this ministry on our behalf. They deserve our prayers and our thanks.

However, we must never forget that we also play a critical role in the catechetical process because the “proclamation of the Gospel always begins with the Christian community” (General Directory for Catechesis, no. 254).

Our challenge is to consider how we can engage ourselves in all six tasks of catechesis throughout this new program year and into the future. †


Local site Links: