Tag Archives: Mary

Full Text — Pope Benedict XVI Resignation Speech

POPE

 

“Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

END

Message for World Day of Peace: find inner peace in God

butte_mt_mary

Homily, Pope Benedict XVI, New Year Day, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“May God bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” We proclaimed these words from Psalm 66 after hearing in the first reading the ancient priestly blessing upon the people of the covenant. It is especially significant that at the start of every new year God sheds upon us, his people, the light of his Holy Name, the Name pronounced three times in the solemn form of biblical blessing. Nor is it less significant that to the Word of God – who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) as “the true light that enlightens every man” (1:9) – is given, as today’s Gospel tells us, the Name of Jesus eight days after his birth (cf. Lk 2:21).

It is in this Name that we are gathered here today. I cordially greet all present, beginning with the Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. I greet with affection Cardinal Bertone, my Secretary of State, and Cardinal Turkson, with all the officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; I am particularly grateful to them for their effort to spread the Message for the World Day of Peace, which this year has as its theme “Blessed are the Peacemakers”.

Although the world is sadly marked by “hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism,” as well as by various forms of terrorism and crime, I am convinced that “the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind’s innate vocation to peace. In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life. In other words, the desire for peace corresponds to a fundamental moral principle, namely, the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development, which is part of God’s plan for mankind. Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift. All of this led me to draw inspiration for this Message from the words of Jesus Christ: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt 5:9)” (Message, 1). This beatitude “tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort … It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation” (ibid., 2, 3). Indeed, peace is the supreme good to ask as a gift from God and, at the same time, that which is to be built with our every effort.

We may ask ourselves: what is the basis, the origin, the root of peace? How can we experience that peace within ourselves, in spite of problems, darkness and anxieties? The reply is given to us by the readings of today’s liturgy. The biblical texts, especially the one just read from the Gospel of Luke, ask us to contemplate the interior peace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During the days in which “she gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2:7), many unexpected things occurred: not only the birth of the Son but, even before, the tiring journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, not finding room at the inn, the search for a chance place to stay for the night; then the song of the angels and the unexpected visit of the shepherds. In all this, however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens, keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely. This is the interior peace which we ought to have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history, events whose meaning we often do not grasp and which disconcert us.

The Gospel passage finishes with a mention of the circumcision of Jesus. According to the Law of Moses, eight days after birth, baby boys were to be circumcised and then given their name. Through his messenger, God himself had said to Mary – as well as to Joseph – that the Name to be given to the child was “Jesus” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31); and so it came to be. The Name which God had already chosen, even before the child had been conceived, is now officially conferred upon him at the moment of circumcision. This also changes Mary’s identity once and for all: she becomes “the mother of Jesus”, that is the mother of the Saviour, of Christ, of the Lord. Jesus is not a man like any other, but the Word of God, one of the Divine Persons, the Son of God: therefore the Church has given Mary the title Theotokos or Mother of God.

The first reading reminds us that peace is a gift from God and is linked to the splendour of the face of God, according to the text from the Book of Numbers, which hands down the blessing used by the priests of the People of Israel in their liturgical assemblies. This blessing repeats three times the Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time it is linked to two words indicating an action in favour of man: “The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you: the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (6:24-26). So peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favour, in which he turns towards us the splendour of his face.

For sacred Scripture, contemplating the face of God is the greatest happiness: “You gladden him with the joy of your face” (Ps 21:7). From the contemplation of the face of God are born joy, security and peace. But what does it mean concretely to contemplate the face of the Lord, as understood in the New Testament? It means knowing him directly, in so far as is possible in this life, through Jesus Christ in whom he is revealed. To rejoice in the splendour of God’s face means penetrating the mystery of his Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of his interior life and of his will, so that we can live according to his plan of love for humanity. In the second reading, taken from the Letter to the Galatians (4:4-7), Saint Paul says as much as he describes the Spirit who, in our inmost hearts, cries: “Abba! Father!” It is the cry that rises from the contemplation of the true face of God, from the revelation of the mystery of his Name. Jesus declares, “I have manifested thy name to men” (Jn 17:6). God’s Son made man has let us know the Father, he has let us know the hidden face of the Father through his visible human face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts, he has led us to understand that, in him, we too are children of God, as Saint Paul says in the passage we have just heard: “The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’” (Gal 4:6).

Here, dear brothers and sisters, is the foundation of our peace: the certainty of contemplating in Jesus Christ the splendour of the face of God the Father, of being sons in the Son, and thus of having, on life’s journey, the same security that a child feels in the arms of a loving and all-powerful Father. The splendour of the face of God, shining upon us and granting us peace, is the manifestation of his fatherhood: the Lord turns his face to us, he reveals himself as our Father and grants us peace. Here is the principle of that profound peace – “peace with God” – which is firmly linked to faith and grace, as Saint Paul tells the Christians of Rome (cf. Rom 5:2). Nothing can take this peace from believers, not even the difficulties and sufferings of life. Indeed, sufferings, trials and darkness do not undermine but build up our hope, a hope which does not deceive because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (5:5).

May the Virgin Mary, whom today we venerate with the title of Mother of God, help us to contemplate the face of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. May she sustain us and accompany us in this New Year: and may she obtain for us and for the whole world the gift of peace. Amen!

Virgin of Guadalupe image spared after fire in Juárez destroys church

 “The image had no protection at all.”

A fire destroyed a church in Juárez early Wednesday morning, but spared a Virgin of Guadalupe image, despite the fierce blaze, Juárez officials said today.
The incident took place at about 4:04 a.m. on Wednesday, at San Agustín Chapel at Paseos del Alba and Paseos del Ángel Streets, Juárez Fire Department officials said.
“The fire tore down the whole church,” said Cap. Martin Morales, of the Fire Department in Juárez, in a telephone interview.
But the fire spared a Virgin of Guadalupe image inside the church. The beloved icon, 60 centimeters tall and one meter wide, was framed in wood.
The flames destroyed other images like St. Agustín and Jesus Christ, said Efrén Matamoros, Juárez Environmental Services and Civil Defense.
“We had no explanation of that,” Matamoros said. “The image had no protection at all.” The fire also destroyed 40 pews, frames and several icons. No one was hurt.
The damages were estimated at $10,000.
The fire was ruled accidental, due to an illegal connection to the electric poles in the area, firefighters said.
The parishioners are ready to rebuild the church, Matamoros said.

STORY: El Paso Times

Marisela Ortega Lozano maybe reached at mortega@elpasotimes.com; 542-6077.

Feast of Holy Mary, Mother of God 2012 : Preparation for Total Consecration to Our Lady

1st January 2012

Because on this feast that the Church declares a day dedicated to prayer for world peace, we find that the world needs it. To Jesus through Mary is the way…

From Le Blog Monfortain:

Everything else pales into insignificance before these three words: “Mother of God”. They are the thread which, from age to age, binds into one piece of cloth the whole tradition of the Church.

“The mother of my Lord,” says Elizabeth. “The child with his mother,” writes St Matthew. “Born of a woman,” adds St Paul. “Mary Theotokos”, that is: “Mother of God”, the inhabitants of Ephesus would cry out in the year 431, when the Council of Ephesus proclaimed the dogma. “Born of the Virgin Mary,” the Creed sings. For Jesus is only truly a man if you are truly his mother. The reality of the Word of God made flesh implies just this.

Jesus, “having loved those who were his in the world, loved them to the end,” St John says, speaking of the Passion; but this “to the end” was true right from the day that God took flesh in you, from the moment of your “yes” to the angel.

“Mother of God”: I would never have enough silent time to contemplate these three words. Like plants in the desert, that wait for days, perhaps even years, for a drop of rain in order to germinate, we must say them over and over again until your Son brings them to fruition in us.

All ages are amazed! “The one that the universe sings about but can never contain, is present in your womb,” Virgin Mother, “daughter of your Son, humble yet raised high more than all creatures.” You who fashioned the Christ, create his image also in me, holy Mary, Mother of God.

(Jacques Loew, o.p., Mon Dieu dont je suis sûr, Fayard-Mame, 1982, pg. 177)

ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT’S formula for total consecration to Jesus through Mary….

For the benefit of those desiring to make the complete preparation recommended by the Saint, the Montfort Fathers in the United States have assembled in one book the various prayers and meditations conducive to an adequate preparation for total consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Here’s the Link from Knights of Divine Mercy.

END OF POST

Catholics urged to protest Russell Peter’s Christmas Special — Contact links and information here…

A TOF hat tip to Canadian Thomas Carter and his informative letter protesting Pamela Anderson playing the Virgin Mary on prime time television on Canada’s largest station CTV. Below are some useful contact links to support the effort to stop this blasphemous anti-Catholic program from airing…

To the horror of Canada’s 12,000,000 Catholics the CTV has chosen to air on Dec. 1st, 2011, “A Russell Peter’s Christmas Special.”

In the program the Virgin Mary will be played by Pamela Anderson, a porn actress who appeared in various sex tapes with famous rock stars.

As a member of the Roman Catholic Church and a citizen of Canada I implore the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications Canada) and the CBSC (Canadian Broadcasters Standards Council) to ban the airing of the upcoming program in Canada.

Allow me to point out two recent cases where the CBSC intervened recently which clearly set precedent for such a ban.

In January, 2011, the CBSC banned the song Money for Nothing by Dire Straights as it was too offensive for Canadian audiences because it contained the word “faggot”. In the context of the song it is not really used in a derogatory way, nor is the word clearly audible, however CSBC felt a ban was in order after receiving only one complaint from a listener in St. John’s Newfoundland.

In December, 2010, The CBSC banned the Canadian evangelical minister Charles McVety after an industry watchdog ruled that statements he had made about homosexuals violated its broadcasting codes.

CTV described the special as “an irreverent twist on the Christmas special making it unlike anything viewers have seen before.” This leaves little doubt to Peters’ intention to use the actress’ immoral notoriety to heighten the irreverence/offensiveness of the program.
http://www.bellmediapr.ca/ctv/releas…4484&yyyy=2011

How would Jewish Canadians feel if Pamela Anderson were to make an “irreverent” film about Auschwitz? Would African Americans not be offended by an “irreverent” film about Rosa Parks? Are Catholics any different?

The following is from section 8 of the Motion Picture Code of 1930 on religion.
1. No film or episode may throw ridicule on any religious faith.
2. Ministers of religion in their character as ministers of religion should not be used as comic characters or as villains.
3. Ceremonies of any definite religion should be carefully and respectfully handled.

The program that CTV plans to air this December 1st is hardly the type of program that would instill harmony in our multicultural society, rather it will foster religious hatred. If this is not an occasion were intervention is required I have to wonder what is.

I sincerely hope that the CRTC and the CSBC will take measures to ensure this program will not air on Canadian television.

Thank you,

Go here to complain to Russel.

http://www.russellpeters.com/askRussell.aspx

CTV Contact Information:
programming@ctv.ca

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 9, Station ‘O,’
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M4A 2M9

Telephone National: 1-866-690-6179
Telephone Ontario: 1-800-668-0060

Canadian Broadcaster Complaint Form
http://www.cbsc.ca
complaints
http://www.cbsc.ca/english/complaint/form.php

Canadian Radio-television and telecommunications Canada
http://www.crtc.gc.ca
complaints
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/rapidsccm/register.asp?lang=e

VIDEO: Let Us Pray for the Vandals of Rome.

It is written of all men concerning God, that “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” [John 19:37]. And like the unbelieving Apostle Thomas, these hooligan’s too will drop to their knees, if not their bellies; yes, their souls as well as flesh will lie open in obedience to the all-powerful presence of the Creator of heaven and earth… They will look upon His Pierced Heart and every wound he suffered on behalf of their every transgression; and at that very moment, a great lament will take hold within their own hearts, marking them indelibly with regret–because they offended the all-holy Mother of God before her Son–the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let us pray, as surely as Mary, the Queen of Peace is, that this occurs within the lives of these vandals before The Last Judgement–that what is also written within sacred scripture, may be true of them: “He who is forgiven much, will love much.” [Luke 7:36-50]

VIDEO: http://pt.gloria.tv/?media=205626

The Truth About Mary and Scripture — Video

The Mother of God is a gift from the Cross in a world reduced to a desert because of its want of love…

Litany of the Holy Angels: Remember your spiritual mother and guardian angel on this day of love…

Litany of the Holy Angels

Lord, have Mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Christ, hear us Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father, Creator of the Angels, Have mercy on us
God the Son, Lord of the Angels, Have mercy on us
God the Holy Spirit, Life of the Angels, Have mercy on us
Holy Trinity, delight of all the Angels, Have mercy on us
Holy Mary, Pray for us
Queen of Angels, Pray for us
All you Choirs of Blessed Spirits, Pray for us
Holy Seraphim, Angels of Love, Pray for us
Holy Cherubim, Angels of the Word, Pray for us
Holy Thrones, Angels of Life, Pray for us
Holy Angels of Adoration, Pray for us
Holy Dominions, Pray for us
Holy Powers, Pray for us
Holy Principalities, Pray for us
Holy Virtues, Pray for us
Holy Archangel Michael, Pray for us
Conqueror of Lucifer, Pray for us
Angel of Faith and Humility, Pray for us
Guardian of the Anointing of the Sick, Pray for us
Patron of the Dying, Pray for us
Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, Pray for us
Guide of souls to the judgement seat of God, Pray for us
Holy Archangel Gabriel, Pray for us
Angel of the Incarnation, Pray for us
Faithful Messenger of God, Pray for us
Angel of Hope and Peace, Pray for us
Protector of all servants and handmaids of God, Pray for us
Guardian of Baptism, Pray for us
Patron of Priests, Pray for us
Holy Archangel Raphael, Pray for us
Angel of Divine Love, Pray for us
Conqueror of the hellish fiend, Pray for us
Helper in great distress, Pray for us
Angel of suffering and of healing, Pray for us
Patron of physicians, wanderers and travelers, Pray for us
All Holy Archangels, Pray for us
Angels of service before the throne of God, Pray for us
Angels of service for mankind, Pray for us
Holy Guardian Angels, Pray for us
Helpers in all our needs, Pray for us
Light in all darkness, Pray for us
Support in all danger, Pray for us
Admonishers of our conscience, Pray for us
Intercessors before the throne of God, Pray for us
Shield of defense against evil spirits, Pray for us
Our constant companions, Pray for us
Our safest Guides, Pray for us
Our truest Friends, Pray for us
Our wisest Counselors, Pray for us
Our models of prompt obedience, Pray for us
Mirrors of humility and sincerity, Pray for us
Angels of our families, Pray for us
Angels of our priests and pastors, Pray for us
Angels of our children, Pray for us
Angels of our home and country, Pray for us
Angels of Holy Mother the Church, Pray for us
All you Holy Angels, Assist us
During Life, Assist us
In Death, Assist us
In heaven, we shall be grateful to you!
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us
Christ hear us,
Christ graciously hear us,
Lord have mercy

Celebrant: God has given his charge over you
Congregation: To guard you in all your ways

Let us pray: Almighty, eternal God, grant us the help of your heavenly Hosts that we may be preserved from the terrible assaults of the evil one by the Precious Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ and the intercession of the most Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, so that free from all adversity, we may serve you again in peace. We ask this, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI: Homily on the Assumption 2008

SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

St Thomas of Villanova Parish, Castel Gandolfo
Friday, 15 August 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest Marian Feast, returns every year in the heart of summer. It is an opportunity to rise with Mary to the heights of the spirit where one breathes the pure air of supernatural life and contemplates the most authentic beauty, the beauty of holiness. The atmosphere of today’s celebration is steeped in paschal joy. “Today”, the antiphon of the Magnificat says, “the Virgin Mary was taken up to Heaven. Rejoice, for she reigns with Christ for ever. Alleluia”. This proclamation speaks to us of an event that is utterly unique and extraordinary, yet destined to fill the heart of every human being with hope and happiness. Mary is indeed the first fruit of the new humanity, the creature in whom the mystery of Christ – his Incarnation, death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven – has already fully taken effect, redeeming her from death and conveying her, body and soul, to the Kingdom of immortal life. For this reason, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, the Virgin Mary is a sign of certain hope and comfort to us (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 68). Today’s feast impels us to lift our gaze to Heaven; not to a heaven consisting of abstract ideas or even an imaginary heaven created by art, but the Heaven of true reality which is God himself. God is Heaven. He is our destination, the destination and the eternal dwelling place from which we come and for which we are striving.

St Germanus, Bishop of Constantinople in the eighth century, in a homily given on the Feast of the Assumption, addressing the heavenly Mother of God said: “You are the One who through your immaculate flesh reunited the Christian people with Christ…. Just as all who thirst hasten to the fountain, so every soul hastens to you, the Fountain of love, and as every man aspires to live, to see the light that never fades, so every Christian longs to enter the light of the Most Blessed Trinity where you already are”. It is these same sentiments that inspire us today as we contemplate Mary in God’s glory. In fact, when she fell asleep in this world to reawaken in Heaven, she simply followed her Son Jesus for the last time, on his longest and most crucial journey, his passage “from this world to the Father” (cf. Jn 13: 1).

Like him, together with him, she departed this world to return “to the Father’s House” (cf. Jn 14: 2). And all this is not remote from us as it might seem at first sight, because we are all children of the Father, God; we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus and we are all also children of Mary, our Mother. And we all aspire to happiness. And the happiness to which we all aspire is God, so we are all journeying on toward this happiness we call Heaven which in reality is God. And Mary helps us, she encourages us to ensure that every moment of our life is a step forward on this exodus, on this journey toward God. May she help us in this way to make the reality of heaven, God’s greatness, also present in the life of our world. Is this not basically the paschal dynamism of the human being, of every person who wants to become heavenly, perfectly happy, by virtue of Christ’s Resurrection? And might this not be the beginning and anticipation of a movement that involves every human being and the entire cosmos? She, from whom God took his flesh and whose soul was pierced by a sword on Calvary, was associated first and uniquely in the mystery of this transformation for which we, also often pierced by the sword of suffering in this world, are all striving.

The new Eve followed the new Adam in suffering, in the Passion, and so too in definitive joy. Christ is the first fruits but his risen flesh is inseparable from that of his earthly Mother, Mary. In Mary all humanity is involved in the Assumption to God, and together with her all creation, whose groans and sufferings, St Paul tells us, are the birth-pangs of the new humanity. Thus are born the new Heaven and the new earth in which death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more (cf. Rv 21: 1-4).

What a great mystery of love is presented to us once again today for our contemplation! Christ triumphed over death with the omnipotence of his love. Love alone is omnipotent. This love impelled Christ to die for us and thus to overcome death. Yes, love alone gives access to the Kingdom of life! And Mary entered after her Son, associated with his Glory, after being associated with his Passion. She entered it with an uncontainable force, keeping the way behind her open to us all. And for this reason we invoke her today as “Gate of Heaven”, “Queen of Angels” and “Refuge of sinners”. It is certainly not reasoning that will make us understand this reality which is so sublime, but rather simple, forthright faith and the silence of prayer that puts us in touch with the Mystery that infinitely exceeds us. Prayer helps us speak with God and hear how the Lord speaks to our heart.

Let us ask Mary today to make us the gift of her faith, that faith which enables us already to live in the dimension between finite and infinite, that faith which also transforms the sentiment of time and the passing of our existence, that faith in which we are profoundly aware that our life is not retracted by the past but attracted towards the future, towards God, where Christ, and behind him Mary, has preceded us.

By looking at Mary’s Assumption into Heaven we understand better that even though our daily life may be marked by trials and difficulties, it flows like a river to the divine ocean, to the fullness of joy and peace. We understand that our death is not the end but rather the entrance into life that knows no death. Our setting on the horizon of this world is our rising at the dawn of the new world, the dawn of the eternal day.

“Mary, while you accompany us in the toil of our daily living and dying, keep us constantly oriented to the true homeland of bliss. Help us to do as you did”.

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends who are taking part in this celebration this morning, let us pray this prayer to Mary together. In the face of the sad spectacle of all the false joy and at the same time of all the anguished suffering which is spreading through the world, we must learn from her to become ourselves signs of hope and comfort; we must proclaim with our own lives Christ’s Resurrection.

“Help us, Mother, bright Gate of Heaven, Mother of Mercy, source through whom came Jesus Christ, our life and our joy. Amen”

The New Evangelization — I Don’t Need Your Catechism!

…the necessity of teaching doctrine to children.

EDITOR: The much-needed New Evangelization of America as proposed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI will take courage and patience to implement. Mr. De La Torre and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are the example.

From the Catholic Exchange today:

Posted By Marlon De La Torre On July 22, 2010

I Don’t Need your Catechism!

A couple of years ago, a Pastor asked me to provide a catechetical training day for teachers in his Catholic school and CCD program. One of my first questions to him was what issues had developed requiring my assistance. The Pastor voiced to me his concern over poor doctrinal formation he suspected the children were receiving. I asked him how he finally came to this point. He said; “I knew things were off when all I saw was glue, crayons, construction paper and scissors during an eighth grade religion class.” Right there and then I realized what I had to work with.

The inevitable day arrives. As the catechists walked into the parish center, we began with prayer and introductions.  I typically begin with a short story reflecting on the catechetical formation for the day. This process helps to gauge the audience and determine when to run when they have had enough. Kidding aside, the first segment involved preparing them for the day, the aim of the instruction, purpose, goals, desires and application for the classroom. A good strategy when teaching teachers is not to patronize them. They are teachers and know everything. I know I am one of them. In reality, the heart of instruction here lies with an authentic witness of the living Gospel of Jesus Christ in a gradual loving way.

Knowing that many teachers resort to arts and crafts because of a genuine fear and ignorance in teaching the Catholic faith to students I began the training by asking the catechists for the one thing they would like to know about the faith they still had questions on. After a subtle pause (pretty typical) hands were drawn. The questions asked centered on sin, true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, confession, purgatory, mass participation, is the Church biblical, Mary, how to read the bible, other religions etc. My next question to them was why they wanted to know about these particular doctrines. Their response was nothing short of amazing.  They did not know how these particular teachings came to be! Keep in mind, these catechists are supposedly teaching children the Catholic faith. Right there and then I realized we needed to start at the very beginning e.g. Do you believe in God the Father the almighty?

If the teacher does not have a sound understanding of how their life reflects the Gospel let alone living within the Story of salvation, then how are they going to impart the story onto their students?  Hence, the focal point of the problem we face in the catechetical field. Our catechists lack basic doctrinal formation. I charted a different course of action realizing that this group needed a systematic engaging approach to learn and apply Catholic doctrine in the classroom.

The result was a mini-RCIA course where I went through Salvation History and presented to them their role in light of Jesus Christ the Divine Teacher (Heb 11:6). In other words, they needed to see how the Church came to be, their role within the Church and the graces given to us by Christ at Baptism to continue His work in the Church He founded. A basic outline of the curriculum for this training session looked something like this:

  1. Introduction to God’s plan for salvation in our lives.
  2. Creation and God’s love for us.
  3. Original Sin and the fall from grace because of the first sin.
  4. Proto-evangelium (First Gospel)
  5. God’s covenants with his people i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses
  6. The role of our Blessed Mother as the “New Eve.”
  7. Summary on Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture
  8. Summary on Apologetics
  9. Summary of the Seven Sacraments
  10. Summary of the Ten Commandments
  11. Summary of Mortal Sin and Venial Sin
  12. The Incarnation
  13. Liturgy and the Mass
  14. The Church
  15. Lives of the Saints
  16. The Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed.

It was important the catechists saw the biblical basis for these doctrinal pillars. In addition, how the Catechism references the teachings of the Church through the footnotes. A short primer on how to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church and view the references, cross-references, and articles numbers to find a particular teaching gave the catechists a better grasp of the information.

This experience is common. A generation of uncatechized faithful over the past thirty-years has drifted throughout their Catholic life not knowing the graces they received through their Baptism. The recitation of our Baptismal promises appears as an afterthought to many. When asked within the Rite of Baptism, Do you reject, sin, and all his empty works, and all his empty promises . . . it begs to ask the question to these teachers whether they truly understand what sin is in order to reject it.

When I posed this very question to one of the teachers in the training session, the response was a common one. Why do we need to concentrate on sin, it is more important to focus on the works of Jesus? Do you see where this particular catechist has quietly misaligned the purpose of Christ and His Church. Whether its ignorance, issues with the doctrine of sin, or a personal experience initiating this response, the opportunity to discuss the nature of sin was difficult. Now, we must be careful when discussing the doctrine of sin from this pastoral perspective; we do not know what the person has gone through personally where a certain sinful act may have caused negative, spiritual harm or drawn out a bad experience. It is vital that a catechist be carefully aware of the audience they are instructing. However, we cannot shy away from addressing the dangers of sin itself.

Another teacher, noting her frustration in sitting through a dreadful class in her opinion said these magic words:You can keep your catechism, how do you expect me to apply it in the classroom?” Moreover, there you go, this brave soul echoed the sentiments of others who had resisted on using the catechism in the classroom. This “shot heard around the classroom,” reflected the genuine mentality of many teachers viewing the catechism as a useless tool because it probably did not provide cutouts for the kids to “draw” and “cut-out.” This comment troubled me because of an apparent ignorance towards the application or appreciation of the Catechism. There is fruit to the argument that it is not the teachers fault. From one perspective, this may be true; nonetheless, it does not negate the fact of what we are dealing with now. St. Augustine-the Father of Catechetics describes catechizing the ignorant in this way:

“The best method for instructing ignorant men in Christian doctrine, one that will bear much fruit is to ask questions in a friendly fashion after the explanation; from this questioning one can learn whether each one understood what he heard or whether the explanation needs repeating. In order that the learner grasp the matter, we must ascertain by questioning whether the one being catechized has understood, and in accordance with his response, we must either explain more clearly and fully or not dwell further on what is known to them etc. But if a man is very slow, he must be mercifully helped and the most necessary doctrines especially should be briefly imparted to him.”

As the Catechist trainer in this situation, you cannot scold nor demean these individuals. In many ways, ignorance is rooted in their responses due to a lack of formation. Thus, a gentle but firm disposition serves us well in this type of situation because we do not want to lose them.  Our hope rests in a genuine conversion for these teachers (1 Pt 3:15). The “you can keep your catechism” statement by the teacher mentioned earlier should not detract anyone from teaching the faith. My call for this person was to help her find God. An opportunity arose to present the Gospel, reveal the importance of Christ in our lives and provide her with an open opportunity to seek Him.

It is very important that the catechist reveal the relevance of doctrine in the lives of the faithful. Our faith is naturally explicit (1 Thess 2:13) because God has made Himself visible through His Church. Man naturally seeks what is visible and revealed. For instance, when we are able to observe and recognize a moral act the exercise of the doctrinal action takes effect on our senses. We are able to witness doctrine exercised.  The liturgy – a public work, provides a visible reality of the existence of faith and the exercise of doctrine.

By the end of the day, the teachers who survived my training session realized in a small way the necessity of teaching doctrine to children. The success of the day came not by how much doctrine I could expose them to, it was helping them realize how little they knew about the faith and what to do about. Not only for their souls but also for the souls of the children they teach.

The religion instructor must be prepared to proclaim the truth of the Catholic Church. His/her responsibility is to aid the development of the person they are instructing by explaining Church teaching carefully and appropriately through a careful transmission rooted in Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The door to the nourishing a soul in Catholic doctrine must be convincing so the person applies these doctrines to everyday life. The need for the Catechism of the Catholic Church is more relevant than ever if we genuinely desire to impart the Catholic faith. Our duty and responsibility is to answer the questions our students have. Clarity of truth is primary in our instruction.


Marlon De La Torre is the Associate Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.