Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Catechist as Mediator

from Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism:

The whole tradition of the catechumenate in the Church makes it clear that the Catechism, as a book, is only one element in a larger whole.

On the one hand, the Catechism appeals to the "interior teacher" (to speak with Augustine) present in every man. This interior master enables every person who encounters Jesus' message to realize, "yes, this is it, this is what I have been looking for all along." On the other hand, the Catechism needs the exterior teacher, the catechist, as well as the companionship of the communion of disciples. Without the living words of the catechist who, like Apollos, is himself "catechized according to the way of the Lord" (Acts 18:25), the book remains dumb.

Catechists, acting in inward harmony with the faith of the Church, with the message of Jesus Christ, must creatively mediate the Catechism to given situations and persons. Even now, the Catechism, when it is not intentionally thwarted, is bringing forth an abundance of initiatives in evangelization and proclamation. But at the origin of these initiatives there is always the person of the catechist. When the Church has ceased to be something external for him but has "awakened in his soul", he can, with his dynamic faith, retransform the letter into a living voice. He will face contradiction, bu above all he will evoke the joy that comes from meeting Jesus. (pgs. 59-60)

I think this passage speaks to parents as well - it's both challenging in a difficult way and freeing (especially with regards to some erroneous conventions in our society - the ones that see the teaching of the faith as something that consists simply in handing someone a book to read). I particularly like the word "mediate" in the third paragraph. That's a role of a teacher and homeschool parent that I hadn't considered "in so many words" before.

But I like this passage even more as a goal to prepare my children for - nothing would please me more than to have them go out into the world and become teachers, parents and catechists; people who love the Word and with all their hearts want to share it with others; people who believe in truth and will help others to see it. What a great blessing that would be! And this brings me back to one of my favorite quotes:

No amount of pious training or pious culture will protect the faithful, or preserve them from the contamination of the age, if they are left inferior to non-Catholics in secular learning and intellectual development. The faithful must be guarded and protected by being trained and disciplined to grapple with the false systems of the age…. They must be better armed than their opponents - surpass them in the strength and vigor of their minds, and in the extent and variety of their knowledge. They must, on all occasions and against all adversaries, be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them. (Orestes Brownson)

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