Recently I had a great conversation with Fr. Erbin Fernandez, a priest in the Diocese of Singapore who has had a great impact on the catechetical renewal going on in his diocese. It sounds very exciting! I really like the way Fr. Erbin has outlined a method of passing on the faith. I had the opportunity to share it at my catechist in-service last night. It goes like so (also see chart below):
We want to approach passing on the faith with a lens that goes deeper than what we find in a typical school classroom environment. Our goal is initiating others into Christ. We have to make our meeting spaces more than a “classroom” and draw those we catechize into prayer. Having a prayer space is very important. It helps cultivate a distinct environment in a classroom or meeting room. The prayer space or sacred space should not merely be off to the side but should be more central and at the center of where you as a catechist are presenting and gathering your students. Next we see in a typical classroom teaching situation students have a “teacher”. When initiating into Christ, the catechist is more than a teacher but a “steward” of the mysteries of faith. In addition, in a typical school setting you have “students”. In Catechesis we want to initiate “seekers”. Cultivating an environment where those you are passing the faith onto are seeking more and wanting to grow in faith is essential to truly drawing them into a relationship with Christ and His Church. Next, we see that imparting “knowledge” to others is important but not sufficient in a faith environment – “faith” must be fostered and renewed. The books that are used in classes to help students in a regular school know that subject are a good tool but the most important of books is the Bible. The Bible is God’s living Word which speaks of his loving plan which He has revealed to us. It also goes without saying that we are also passing on the Apostolic Tradition that was not written down but handed on through the preaching of the apostles and their successors. Next, the “instruction” given in a typical school is necessary, but we as catechists are doing more than instructing, we are initiating seekers into Christ. What is vital for initiating others into Christ is an initiation into the mystery of Christ and all that that entails. We desire nothing greater than to initiate and draw others into a way of life and a way of being. Finally, in a school setting the way students learn is through various “subjects”. In a catechetical setting we cover different topics from week to week which should be in the context of the “liturgical year”. The story of our salvation and how God has love, moved, worked and acted is remembered and celebrated though the liturgical year. Here is what Fr. Erbin from the Diocese of Singapore sent me regarding how we should approach our catechesis.
The more we “initiate” those we catechize the more they are not only drawn into a greater love of their faith but also able to encounter faith, encounter joy, encounter friendship, grace, love and mercy from the one who is our all in all: Jesus Christ. What a gift we have to share and what a joy it is to witness and celebrate it!
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!
This was previously posted on http://catechesisinthethirdmillennium.wordpress.com