One of the most amazing things to experience as a catechist is fruitfulness. It reminds me I am a co-redeemer with God, that I am a co-worker with none other than the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes the reminders of God’s fruitfulness come out of the blue, like the lady who showed up on the doorstep over a year ago, who said the only way she could explain how she got there was that God guided her. She did not know who Jesus was but she felt she wanted to become a Catholic. This Easter, she will be baptised. This is definitely an extraordinary instance of God’s fruitfulness. Mostly, though, God uses ‘ordinary’ ways of drawing people to himself, ways which usually involve other people.
The Catholicism course has been an example of one of these ‘ordinary’, but yet extraordinary, ways of God drawing people to himself. There has been a wonderful grace about this course, an infectious joy and enthusiasm which mean people do not want it to end, and people discovering – some for the first time – the joys of being a Catholic. We have one person who will be received into the Church and another who will be confirmed as a result of this course. We have other cradle Catholics who are more determined to live seriously their Catholic faith. And this kind of joy and enthusiasm does spread. The people who have received a lot are among the first to be signed up to the School of Prayer we have starting after Easter. They are becoming more involved in Church life and telling their friends. Fruitfulness means ever increasing circles of people, more and more connections, and friends of friends drawn into the communion of the Church. It is beautiful to witness it.
It is true to say that working for the Church is often hard, for a variety of different reasons. But this fruitfulness is the main thing that makes it beyond worthwhile. This makes it the job I would do for free if it was practical. What other reason can there be to do a job like this?
We’re halfway through our Confirmation programme and Catechumenate, but even so, January is a great time for us all to come back to them fresh. For both, the next few months involve catechesis on sacramental life in Christ – that is, we’re trying to tie together the teaching on the liturgy and sacraments, and moral life in Christ, as much as possible. Why is this? Because we can only live a fully moral life through the grace we receive in the sacraments. The two are very interconnected. Next weekend, the Catechumenate embark on their retreat at Ampleforth Abbey to prepare them spiritually for the final stretch of catechesis before Lent. This is the time now when they will be challenged to live truly this life set before them – deeply in prayer, and authentically in moral life.
For the Confirmation candidates too, much of their moral formation we hope will be an inspiring and challenging experience for them. We use the film, The Human Experience, to root much of the moral teaching – we draw from it themes such as the dignity of the human person, what freedom is, the Beatitudes, the two greatest commandments, and the human and theological virtues. If you haven’t seen it, The Human Experience is a beautifully made, deeply inspiring film – I want to live so much better each time I watch it! We have found that rooting moral formation in some of the people and issues of the film makes it more alive and real. And following the classes, the candidates will hopefully visit the Friars of the Renewal and the Missionaries of Charity to witness the work they do with the poor. This is our plan, and I will let you know how it works with our candidates 🙂
The biggest new beginning we have this week is the first session of Catholicism, our new adult formation programme based on Fr Robert Barron’s DVD series. We’ve been so encouraged by the response to this programme – we have between 30-40 adults signed up, many young adults, from many different backgrounds and with lots of different reasons for taking part. The absolute deadline for bookings is Wednesday and at the moment, we have capacity for a few more… Come and join us! 🙂 I am really looking forward to a wonderful few weeks of deepening understanding of our faith, new friendships, and hopefully a renewed commitment to the Lord for many people. Please keep this project in your prayers!