Entering the Mystery of Jesus
As teachers, then, you must enter the mystery of Jesus, seeing how his life, his words, his temptations, his choices, his facing death, and his overcoming death relate to the demands of the day, to the need of God’s people and to the fears of the nations.
If, however, you are to develop a spirituality that enables you to be heralds, bearers, and interpreters of God’s word and especially the Jesus story, then, you must strive to integrate ten important qualities into your life and catechetical ministry.
1. A People of Vision
First, as catechists you must be people of vision, men and women who believe in the creative and renewing power of the Holy Spirit, who constantly challenges us to risk the unpredictable, to believe in the heretofore unseen and then have the courage to make such a reality.
2. Deep and Abiding Trust
Second, as catechists you must manifest a deep and abiding trust in the Lord and in God’s providence, in a God who never promised us instant success and who frequently writes our history with crooked lines.
3. Ecclesial Perspective
Third, as catechists you must have a strong sense of ecclesial perspective. By that I mean you must have a sound historical, philosophical, and theological understanding of where the church as a community has been, is presently, and will be in the future.
4. The Gift of Your Real Self
Fourth, as catechists you much be comfortable with your humanity. As catechists you must allow your own identity, your own personality, your own humanity to emerge in your ministry. The personal touch is far more important than any robotic performance you may give.
5. A People of Joy
Fifth, as catechists you must be people of joy. It is imperative, therefore, that as catechists you be joyful ministers of the Good News. Gloomy Guses or Sourpuss Sals have no place in contemporary catechetical ministry. Your presence, your gestures, your words must radiate the message: “I’m delighted to be here; I’m delighted to be with you; I’m delighted to be a herald of the Good News.”
6. The Spirit of Wonder and Awe
Six, as catechists you must be flexible and open to change. One of the most important qualities that you as catechists must have is to develop the ability to learn, to grow, to adapt, the capacity to turn a corner, to change an attitude, to move on. As a corollary to being flexible and open to change you must also be committed to ongoing education and formation.
7. Theology of the Cross
Seventh, as catechists you must adopt a theology of the cross. Thus, as catechists, you must recognize and appreciate that the cross must be an integral and essential of the Christian life—of your life.
8. Instruments of Tenderness and Mercy
Eighth, as catechists you must be instruments of tenderness and mercy. It is imperative, therefore, that you as catechists serve as an effective antidote to this projection of severity by being people who are approachable, people who assume more a posture of listening than of lecturing, people who are faithful to the teaching and tradition of the church but who are also flexible enough to recognize that this is a living teaching and tradition that must be responsive to the concrete needs and circumstances of each individual to whom you minister.
9. Simple Lifestyle
Ninth, catechists should seek to adopt and maintain a simple lifestyle. Catechists, therefore, I believe can make a valuable contribution in today’s church and society by taking the initiative of offering an irrefutable counterwitness to the consumerism of our day by adopting a lifestyle that enables one to live with what is sufficient; a lifestyle that is less dependent upon status, prestige, influence, and possessions and that is more open and available in service to others; a lifestyle that is characterized by simplicity in clothing, diet, entertainment, and transportation, and by prayers for, advocacy on behalf of, and service to the poor.
10. A People of Prayer
This leads to the tenth, final, and most important characteristic that should be the hallmark of the catechist: prayerfulness. Catechists, then, in their lives but especially in their teaching must always come through as people who pray, not a string of Hail Marys or the recitation of the Divine Office—important as these may be—but as people striving for a ceaseless living in the presence of God.
This post is an adaptation of I Am Bread Broken: A Spirituality for the Catechist (Crossroad Publishing Company) by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Bishop Emeritus of Albany, NY.