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Title of the Column: ALWAYS

For: The Davao Catholic Herald

June 15, 2008, Sunday

The Heart of a Catechist
Erwin Joey E. Cabilan

The academic year 2008-2009 has just begun. Our catechists in the parishes, Basic Ecclesial
Communities and in the schools (Catholic, Non-sectarian and public) at all levels (from womb to tomb) have set
their minds and hearts to this noble and sacred task of communicating the Christian faith to all faithful from all
walks of life. It is timely to share with you, especially to our catechists, some points on how to grow and develop
through values and virtues.

In a conference during my formation years at JCC (1995-1999), our director (Fr. Djang Paunon who is
currently in London, UK) asked us this question: AS CATECHISTS, DO WE HAVE A HEART FOR GOD AND
FOR HIS PEOPLE? This question continues to echo in my life now that I am a professional catechist. I never
stop asking myself with such question. I oftentimes answer this question in my Night Prayer in which each of us
is asked to examine our conscience before uttering the Act of Contrition.

The heart is an organ that is designed to serve the whole body. It pumps the blood through the veins so
that the whole being can live. Its existence implies a mission: to give blood to make the person a living being.
But it is able to respond according to its purpose because it opens itself to the things that the heart necessitates.
The heart can normally pump blood all throughout the body if and only it is powered by life-giving nutrients.
Therefore, we can see two movements why the heart is a heart. First, it receives the necessary gifts and
second, it gives life.

The catechist is like a heart. He/She receives “gifts” wrapped in many ways such as being part of the
formation, having a family, friends and many other opportunities that make us experience that we are welcomed,
nurtured, cared, loved, and even healed. But what is the essence of receiving if we don’t share them. In
catechesis, the minister (catechist) allows those gifts that he/she has received to flow through by means of
service. Teaching children, youth and adults, consoling the afflicted, encouraging those who got failing marks to
exert an effort to attain what is good, visiting the sick, listening those whose voices are suppressed by people in
authority, and many other actions that demand love, justice and peace are ways by which we allow the “heart” to
speak the words that are music to the ears, “I Love You”. Therefore, every catechist must be a person who is
not only passionate with his/her ministry but also a person of compassion.

In order for the catechist to become compassionate in season and out of season, the HEART must be

Holiness of life. Sanctification is not only manifested in our “moments of prayer”. It becomes even more
evident if our whole life is prayer in itself. Ministry never becomes too technical and mechanical but a way to
express our relatedness with the God who has called us to be HIS catechists.

Ever ready to serve. Catechists are called out from the rest for a specific need. This need must be responded
by way of offering quality service. In our formation, we are always called to “wash each other’s feet”. Some of
us came here because of this intention. But the best way to start giving service is not after our graduation, not
after receiving the Missio Canonica. Being service-oriented starts now. The Lucan written gospel is noted of its
indication of time with the words such as “today”, “now” and the like. What do these words mean? Time
matters because it belongs to God. If we truly belong to God, then there is no delay. The right time to
serve is NOW!

Awareness of one’s “humus”. Humus, a Latin term, means “soil”. The word human is derived from the said
word. To be human is to be conscious of one’s strengths and limitations. A very good analogy is a palay. When
the palay is filled, it turns into gold. But more profound of the palay transformation is that when it is filled with
grain and has turned into gold, it bends down. A person who is full of blessings keeps his/her feet on the
ground. Humility is a virtue wherever we are, whoever we will become, whatever achievements we gain and
whatever position we might have. A humble catechist never underestimates his/her capacities but instead,
he/she offers them his/her gifts so that others will have. Like John the Baptist, we say, “He must increase,
while I must decrease.”

Values Relationship. Our ministry is always being done with and for the People of God. This means that a
catechist must have a healthy and positive outlook in life, particularly in building a harmonious relationship. In
the musicale Les Miserables, Jean Valjean and Fantine sing a particular line that has struck me since I listened
to this song way back 1993. The line of the song says, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Relationship matters. When we serve by way of catechesis we relate in many ways. We need to have the
confidence to deal with people. We have to look at people straight to their eyes so that we can reach our hands
to them. By getting out from our respective shells, we tell God, “Here I am, I come to do Your will.” But, be
mindful that in any relationships, there are limits. That’s another topic worthy to be reflected and learned upon.
Always True. Truth is oftentimes clouded by lies. Sad to say that because only few are truthful, people of today
no longer know that truth is real, that truth is possible and that we can be truthful at all times. Veritas is not just
an object to be grasped by our intellectual capacity. But, veritas is also a virtue that each catechist must hold on
to. As catechists, communicators of the Truth, we have to keep on searching ways and means on how this Truth
can be communicated so that others may come to know Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. But the best
way to grasp the Truth is to be possessed by this Truth. A catechist is true to his/her essence because he/she is
fully owned and possessed by the Truth, Jesus Christ.

The heart lives according to its purpose of existence. As catechists, let us be a living heart that is afired
by the love of God that impels us to “go, forth and teach that God is love.”