Throughout the world, ordinary people carry out an important mission of the Church – catechises. I am no priest or doctor of theology, but I am a catechist for high school students. Often times, people will ask me why I would ever want to do such a thing, as if it were some kind of cruel and unusual punishment. Personally, I find it to be quite the opposite.We all remember the raging hormones, ADD-like attention span, and the all out awkwardness of growing up and trying to find yourself. These teens live in a world that is trying to confuse them and distract them from God.
The thought of even more un-catechised generations is not very reassuring that we would be doing God’s work. They need Jesus. Teenagers today are starving for Truth after being fed so much that has left them hungry for more. Sure, they don’t always openly verbalize their desire for Jesus and Truth, but they do express it in more subtle ways.
These days, most catechises designed for teens is referred to as youth ministry. It may seem to have a newer approach, but it really is as old as the Church. Catechist are not simply expected to sit and dictate the teachings of the Church. The best education and formation of Christians comes from walking the journey with students and leading by example.
As important as priests are in the evangelization and formation of the Church, they cannot do all the work alone. The laity, as in many other ministries, must be a driving force in the spiritual, emotion, and intellectual formation of our youth.
We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires. The church needs to withstand the tides of trends and the latest novelties. We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith.
– Pope Benedict XVI
For all children, the first and primary teacher of the faith, should always be the parents. Some parents often forget this and leave the education to the titled catechist. Other parents on the other hand, don’t feel the need to involve their children in the parish religious education programs. Both of these ignore the important opportunities of a communal and deeper formation.
All Catholics need to have an understanding of the sacraments, the mass, saints, church history, and all the other important facets of our faith. It’s possible to learn these all on our own, but growing without community will lack some of the gifts the Church has to offer us in community beyond the domestic church.
The beauty of the Church is that we are never working alone, we inherit the rich treasures of the faith. There’s no need for anyone to try and reinvent teachings – the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the best friend of a catechist. The Truths are there ready for just a slight addition of personality and perspective to communicate it effectively.
Catechist don’t need to be theological experts or spiritual gurus. Catechists simply need a willingness to love and serve the Lord faithfully through His Church. The Church throughout the world is in need of greater presence of authentic witnesses to guide children, teens, and adults. We need more people to serve the Church as catechist.
In the end, we can teach them every doctrine of the Church, but if we don’t lead them to Jesus, they will lack a true relationship with Him. As we build our relationships with them, all that we do must point to the ultimate goal – heaven.