Welcome to the Spirituality of the Catechist, an online retreat for catechists. This retreat is an opportunity for those of us involved in all aspects of faith formation to be renewed in spirit and to deepen our bonds with the Lord and with one another.
There’s no need to register. There’s no fee. Retreat posts will all be here on Catechist’s Journey on Tuesdays and Thursdays this summer.
Let’s start with an overview of the six themes we will be looking at over the next weeks.
In 1993, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (an office of the Vatican) issued a document titled Guide for Catechists. In that document, the bishops of the Church spelled out the spirituality of the catechist. In a nutshell, that spirituality, which is grounded in the spirituality of the laity that flows from Baptism, is characterized by six characteristics:
- An Openness to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)—This is an openness to a living Word—a Person—whom we desire deeply to invite others to encounter. Our desire is to be transformed by this relationship and to invite others to this saving transformation.
- An Openness to the Church—Our call to serve as catechists comes from the Church. We’re not lone rangers. We are sent on a mission that’s not our own, and we’re equipped with a message that has been entrusted to us.
- An Openness to the World—The Holy Spirit was poured forth so that we could proclaim the Gospel to all nations. With that in mind, catechists are called to be uniquely in touch with the needs of the world.
- A Coherence and Authenticity of Life—As catechists, we don’t teach a subject or a skill set. We invite others into a way of life that defines who we are. Being a catechist is not a hat that we put on and take off. The simple fact is, we can’t teach what—or who—we don’t know. That means that we must strive to know Jesus authentically, to know his message, and to know the Catholic way of life that leads to him.
- A Missionary Zeal—The vocation of the catechist takes the baptismal call to proclaim God’s Word and heightens its intensity. For catechists, the desire to share Christ with others is powerful, almost overwhelming. We can’t help but to preach the Gospel to others! Our hearts burn within us, and we’re compelled to share faith with others. As a result, our spirituality has to keep that flame burning.
- A Devotion to Mary—Good catechists learn from other catechists. We have the best example to learn from in our Mother, Mary. She was the first teacher of Jesus and the first disciple. Mary is a “living catechism” and a “model of catechists.” The spirituality of all the baptized is enriched by devotion to Mary, but, as catechists, our ministry is especially enriched by devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Each week, we’ll reflect on one of these themes and apply it to our own lives and our vocation as catechists.
Take a look at the Guide for Catechists, Section II, 6–10, to see how the document itself talks about the spirituality of the catechist.
For this first week, let’s just get to know one another! Please introduce yourself in the Comments section at the end of this post (“Leave a Reply”) and, in 75 words or less, share the following:
- your first name/username/or initials
- your ministry/position
- your general location
- years in this role
- Then, complete the following sentence: “My spiritual life right now can best be described by comparing it to __________________.” Choose one of the following to complete the sentence, and explain how it describes some aspect of your spiritual life.
- your favorite or patron saint
- your favorite Church hymn
- your favorite liturgical feast or season
Feel free to comment on one another’s introductions! Let’s build a community of catechists right here, ready to explore our summer retreat themes. We’ll also continue the discussion on our Catholic Faith Formation Facebook page, where you can share posts with friends and conveniently interact from the familiar media of Facebook.
For a good introduction to the concept of spirituality, I recommend The Inner Compass by Margaret Silf. For a book that speaks directly to the spirituality of the catechist, check out The Catechist’s Backpack, which I co-wrote with Julianne Stanz. Speaking of Julianne Stanz, come back on Thursday for her thoughts on our retreat theme.
Subscribe to Catechist’s Journey so you don’t miss any of the posts. This is a free online retreat, brought to you by Loyola Press as part of our ongoing commitment to nurturing the spiritual life of catechists both online and with valuable resources throughout our catechist guides.