Our “roving reporter,” Dr. Joe Bound, sent in this superb summary of the first full day of the International Conference for Catechists taking place at the Vatican (he’s REALLY there!). Take it away, Dr. Joe!
Here is what happened today, Saturday, September 27, 2013:
This morning after breakfast, the four of us hopped on the bus to the Vatican for a full day of talks on catechesis. After going through security, we entered the Pope Paul VI Hall directly. There were many ideas expressed regarding the meaning and purpose of catechesis. Topics included: the importance of catechists having a personal relationship with Jesus, telling the whole story about Jesus including the hard to accept or understand teachings, and the all pervasive influence of the mass media in broadcasting a secular agenda which portrays the Church as being insensitive, inhumane and ideologically incompatible with modern life and the world today. We need to master the most “cunning” forms that the mass media uses in getting their agenda across. Catholics cannot just have their own TV channels. They need to learn how to unmask the message of the media from spectacle to mystery in a pastoral way.
The major highlight of the day, though, for Linda and I was shaking Pope Francis’ hand as he entered the Hall for his talk on catechesis. Sister Jacqueline Spaniola, Julianne Stanz, Linda, and I were enthralled being in the same room with him. The attendees went wild as he slowly walked down the main aisle shaking hands. We heard over and over “Viva Papa!” You could see that the Pope enjoyed being with the people. His talk was excellent and well received. He had three main points:
1. Be familiar with Jesus. Be with Him always. Look at Jesus and let Him look at you such as in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and if you fall asleep that’s ok. Jesus is still looking at you.
2. Start off with Jesus and then go out and meet others. Introduce Him to others. Don’t keep Him to yourself.
3. Starting with Jesus means not being afraid of going out to the outskirts, meeting people where they are. Jesus will be there already so don’t worry what will happen to you.
The Pope said that he lets Jesus’ fire warm his heart. If we don’t have the warmth and the love in our heart how can we warm others. He also pointed out if a catechist stays home quietly he ends up being like a statue in a wax museum “and we have plenty of those here, thank you very much.” He also said that being a catechist is a vocation and not a job.
Throughout his talk, his sense of humor came out along with his deep concern for authentic catechesis that is living and not rigid. He entrusted our work as catechists to the Blessed Virgin Mary and ended today’s session with a Hail Mary which the audience accompanied him in their native language and a blessing.
Right after the close of today’s memorable session, the four of us had a great dinner and sampled once
again amazing gelato. My personal favorite was the Bailey’s Cream flavor.
That’s all for now, Joe.
-Dr. Joe Bound