By Petroc Willey
Catechists do two things. They announce the faith of the Church; and they assist those
whom they are catechising to recognise the presence and work of God in their – the
catechumens’ - lives and in the world so that the catechumens can learn that docility and
receptivity which God so desires of us. The General Directory for Catechesis puts it like
‘Truly, to help a person encounter God, which is the task of the catechist, means
to emphasise above all the relationship that the person has with God so that he can
make it his own and allow himself to be guided by God’ (GDC 139).
To be able to help others in this second task we must, of course, be able to recognise God
in our own lives and be able to place ourselves gladly and easily under his guidance.
Attentiveness to one’s own life is at the heart of any formation one undertakes with
others. St Bernard of Clairvaux famously said,
‘The man who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a
canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains
the water till it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself.’
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