Catechists as the Keepers of Memories

interior of "Remember Us with Smiles" book by Grace and Gary Jansen

One of the most inspiring images presented in the new Directory for Catechesis is the image of the catechist as the “keeper of the memory of God.” Here’s what the Directory has to say:

The catechist is a witness of faith and the keeper of the memory of God. The faith contains the memory of God’s history with humanity. Keeping this memory, reawakening it in others, and placing it at the service of the proclamation is the specific vocation of the catechist. (113a)

Memory is an integral dimension of salvation history. The people of Israel are constantly urged to keep memory alive, not to forget the Lord’s benefits. This is a matter of storing up in the heart the events that vouch for God’s initiative. (201)

This is not just a matter of memorizing doctrine or remembering God’s initiative as revealed through events in the Bible, but also remembering God’s initiative in our own lives! As catechists, we are called to help those we teach remember events in their own lives “that vouch for God’s initiative.” This type of remembering is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality and the daily Examen, through which we review our day to recall events and experiences “that vouch for God’s initiative” in our daily activities.

Likewise, this remembering begins at home, in the domestic church, where God’s love is revealed to us through those who love and care for us, especially our parents, whom we are called to honor in the Fourth Commandment. One of the ways that we honor our parents is by remembering the many ways that they have revealed God’s love for us through their own loving actions.

A wonderful new book, Remember Us with Smiles, can help us to accompany those we teach on this spiritual journey of remembering “events that vouch for God’s initiative” in our everyday lives. In the book, authors Grace and Gary Jansen write a beautiful love letter to their children, reminding them that they can always find childlike joy by remembering and treasuring the simple yet magical moments of life together. In the words of Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com: 

While we parents work to create lasting memories in our children’s lives, it’s often the simplest moments of everyday life that make the most lasting impressions. With gentle, engaging prose by Gary and Grace Jansen and delightful illustrations by Barbara Bongini, Remember Us with Smiles will help every family create and treasure their own magical moments.

This book also comes with “extras”—activities to engage children in the practice of remembering. These activities, available at RememberUsWithSmiles.com, include the following:

  • Memory Cube—invites children to create a memory cube with conversation starters for sharing family memories
  • Do you remember . . . Memory Page—invites children to record memories that make them smile and then to share these memories
  • Holiday Memories—invites children to recall memories of holidays celebrated in their family

As “keepers of the memory of God,” we catechists hold the key to creating a “bond between memory and future, between tradition and renewal, creating a genuine circuit of transmission of the faith from generation to generation.” (DC 268)

About Joe Paprocki 2702 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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