A Note from our Pastor
A NOTE FROM OUR PASTOR
My dear family of St. Matthew!
For 84 years now, since 1935, we as a Catholic Church in the United States have honored our catechists — which we do again this year as catechesis begins anew across the country. But what is “catechesis?” First of all, it’s not a disease! As a matter of fact, it is a calling that brings health! A good, healthy relationship with God, with our family, with our brothers and sisters.
Parents, guardians, and grandparents: we all know how challenging it is today to pass on our beautiful, amazing, awesome Catholic faith to our children and grandchildren! In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis addresses challenges to the family in our present modern society. He notes: “The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with one another despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple” (EG §66). Pope Francis is for us today TRULY an exceptional catechist among us, one whose relationship of communion with Jesus in His Church bears great fruit by the way his life and example teach us and reflect God’s Word to us and to our whole human family. The root word, “catechesis,” is from the Greek language meaning “to echo, or resound.” Catechists are “echo-ers.” What do they echo? The beautiful faith of the Church in Jesus, that is, their OWN faith in the Living Christ to our children, to all others! As Fr. Dave Dillon often, often repeated: “If you want to learn something, TEACH IT!” If you want to deepen your faith, SHARE IT! Catechesis is the act of resounding, echoing, and bringing the Church’s teachings to the world. A catechist is one who teaches in the name of the Church. Today September 15, 2019, the Church in the United States celebrates Catechetical Sunday for the 84th year! And this year, the theme is “STAY WITH US.” We deeply and profoundly pray: LORD, STAY WITH US!
This is the truth: every member of our community is called to become both teacher and learner. In a learning community, learners are teaching, teachers are learning, and all activities – meetings, worship, service, and community events – include learning. This is how we as a parish family mature, grow, are revitalized and transformed! And all of us are all called to grow in our faith until our very last breath! The point, object or purpose of catechesis, simply put, is communion with Jesus Christ. Catechesis leads people to enter the mystery of Christ, to encounter him, and to discover themselves and the meaning of their lives in Him.
Our call is to ECHO the Word of God in our lives and then THROUGH our lives to share with others young and old, our love of Jesus and His Church. It is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. So guess what your mission is today, at least in part, and again for ALL of us: to renew marriage and family life. This is SO important today: one of our essential missionary tasks, that is, for catechesis in the 21st century in the United States, is ministry for the renewal of marriage and family life. This renewal isn’t merely the Church providing outreach for the family but the formation of the domestic church for its unique charism in the New Evangelization.
You see, PARENTS are truly the primary catechists of their children. They prepare the soil and plant the first seeds of faith. So on Catechetical Sunday, we not only highlight the work of catechists in parishes and schools, but we also commend parents and guardians and encourage them to take seriously their role of making their Catholic households a place where faith is passed on to the next generation. A married couple is not married in the Sacrament as an expression of their own private love. Instead, the sacrament of marriage manifests to the Church and to the world Christ’s nuptial love for His People, His Church. In every dimension of the couple’s life, particularly their life as a family, they serve now as signs of the sacramental life of the Church itself. The family is a domestic Church precisely because it is a living and efficacious sign in the world of Christ’s nuptial love for all humanity. The family becomes an image of the Trinity in the world, where divine, loving communion is offered as a real possibility even in the mundaneness of the domestic sphere.
Through baptism we become disciples, but through catechesis we become apprentices to Jesus. In the original meaning of the word, an apprentice not only learned a trade, but lived with the master for seven years during which time the apprentice came to know on an intimate level everything about the master, as a person, teacher, and skilled worker. The catechist does not introduce a learner to his or her knowledge of Jesus but acts as a guide so that each person discovers the relationship with Jesus that already exists and flows out of one’s own life. Jesus, the Word of God is so strongly alive in Pope Francis’ heart and in his deeds. May that WORD echo through him and through us who are His Body, the Church, and which, like all families fully alive, has Love as our mission!
Shalom-peace and joy in the living, loving, caring and giving Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Fr. Gregor