Paragraph 75 of the RCIA lists the four pillars of catechesis that we are expected to provide for the catechumens. The RCIA says they are to have a “mature” ability in each of these four areas. “Mature” means mature for a beginner in the faith. We don’t except the catechumens to have the same level of mastery that their catechists have in each of these areas. We do expect, however, a very high level of mastery from the catechists.
So what does mature faith look like for us? Let’s look at the fourth pillar, paragraph 75.4:
Since the church’s life is apostolic, catechumens should also learn how to work actively with others to spread the gospel and build up the church by the witness of their lives and by professing their faith.
For catechists to be able to effectively model what apostolic service looks like, we need to have mastered the seven principles of Catholic social teaching. These can be summarized as the church’s teaching on:
- human dignity
- family and community
- solidarity with all humanity
- the dignity of work
- human rights and responsibilities
- the option for the poor
- caring for God’s creation
If you’re like me, you are stronger in some of these areas and weaker in others. Since, as catechists, we are always engaged in ongoing faith formation, we can seek out opportunities to strengthen our service in those areas we might be neglecting. And we can mentor others in those areas where we might be stronger.
What we should all be able to do, however, is give a one or two sentence summary of each of these teachings and a recent example of how we have tried to live that teaching.
Since we’ve just started the church’s new year, perhaps we could all make a new year’s resolution to raise our practice of the church’s social teaching by “one” (whatever you define as “one”) by Ash Wednesday. Hit the comments link and let us know some ways you model the church’s social teaching.
2 thoughts on “How do RCIA catechists model "service"?”
I believe RCIA 75.4 is not so much speaking about social justice as it is about giving witness to the kerygma (the basic Gospel message of what Jesus Christ did to save us from our sins and give us eternal life) through evangelization like the Apostles did in Acts of the Apostles (hence, “apostolic”).
I think that they can do this especially by sharing what they are learning in RCIA with their friends, family, and co-workers – perhaps by even inviting someone to the parish inquiry sessions.
It is so amazing to see how a newly lit-on-fire inquirer/candidate/catechumen can bring others to the Faith. Many of our neophytes were originally brought into the faith by others who had participated in the RCIA process as participants.
As catechists, I believe we model the apostolic work of spreading the Gospel and building up the Church by what we do as catechists within the RCIA: We give witness to God’s marvelous works in our lives, profess our faith, and proclaim/explain the Gospel… all with the intention to drawing the participants into the love of God and to place them in intimacy with Christ.
I enjoy inviting newly born neophytes to give a short testimony at the inquirer sessions – to have them practice sharing the Gospel. This has been very, very fruitful.
Hi Tom. Thanks for your comment. I especially like the idea of having neophytes witness to their faith.
I don’t see a distinction between evangelization and justice. The way I understand “apostolic” is the way the Catechism defines it: “to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth” (863). The Kingdom, of course, is a Kingdom of righteousness and justice.
We cannot simply proclaim the good news verbally. There must be a result of the proclamation that looks and feels like good news. If we tell those who are oppressed, “Jesus has saved you,” and yet we do nothing to free them from their oppression, our “evangelization” is hollow and ineffective.
The U.S. bishops said as much in their document, Go and Make Disciples:
I do agree with every point you made, but I see each of those points as a fundamental call to be agents of righteousness and justice. It’s not either or for me. It’s both and.