When tourists view the Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica, they rarely attribute the marvelous artwork to the chisel; Michelangelo receives all the glory. It would be absurd to give the same credit to the chisel as to the talent of the artist. In a similar way, Christians working for God’s glory consider themselves to be only his tools. Our mission is simple: don’t get in the way of the Master!
A thirst quenched
I was asked to teach religious education classes at a parish near my house. At first I was stressed out about it, knowing from past experience that most kids who participate in religious education don’t want to be there, but I decided to take the chance.
I learned many things in my first years of teaching by reading books and begging experts for support and consolation. I was trying to get all the techniques down, but I hadn’t realized who the professional Artist was. It wasn’t me doing the painting; I was only the instrument that God chose to paint his image in the kids I taught. I started to base my lessons on the bible, and I tried to explain what the church was teaching in an attractive way. I prayed out loud with the kids, giving them a chance to discover God as a real person.
Each year I watch the kids in my class encounter Jesus for the first time. The spark of His personal love for them transforms once rock-hard hearts into a true witness of God. A thirst they didn’t know they had is quenched. This takes patience and unconditional love on the part of the catechist, but most of all it takes letting God do his work.
What does it take to be a catechist?
The standards are high, but remember that you are not alone in this journey. God only needs your good will, your great desire to make a difference in the young people you encounter, and your openness to learn your faith and transmit it. Here are some tips to begin:
1. How well do you know the bible? Catechists should be proficient in quoting scripture.
2. Do you know what the Church teaches? The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an excellent resource to discover the main dogmas of the Church.
3. Are you a witness before being a catechist? Young people look for authentic role models they can follow. If they listen to you it is because you walk the talk.
4. Once you decide to be a catechist, you can talk to your parish priest or the Director of Religious Education in your parish to see if CCD classes already exist, or if they would like to start one.
Next time you find yourself thinking about wild kids and empty pews, think also if God might be asking you to start out on this adventure. God has already won the victory for each soul you encounter; all you need to do is let him paint his masterpiece through you.
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