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For ALWAYS August 17-23, 2008 issue of DCHerald

The Catechist as a Mediator


by
Erwin Joey E. Cabilan

Before, Church teachings were received without any question. Catholics would accept
them as they were for they believed that what the people in authority would give to them were
really meant for their ultimate destiny: Salvation……. Eternal Life…… Heaven. But people
nowadays question such passive receptivity by asking, “Did they understand what they adhere
to?”

With the current flow of time, we witness how human potentials have been shaping our
lives in all aspects. Critical insights, inventions and even fads are just few among the many
proofs that humanity is, indeed, gifted and a gift. However, if these “being gifted” and “being a
gift” are downplayed by egoistic claim that “I” am THE center, any communicated truth can be
made obscure. Truth can even be relativized. An example of this is by putting it in an
interrogative way is, “Do I really need God so that I can attain life’s fullness and meaning?” or in
a declarative statement, “God and Church are nothing for they hinder me to be what I want to
be.” This emerging attitude of some people of today who question the necessity of faith
in God is alarming especially for us people of faith. Faith in the God who is constantly
drawing us to Himself is an essential element for full communion with our deepest selves, with
our neighbors and even with Mother Nature.

These situations do not only concern our personal lives as Catholics and as Catechists.
They also open our minds and hearts on what pastoral response can we offer so that faith and
life can be integrated. In linking faith and life, catechesis plays a vital role.

In those two aforementioned situations we can see two defining moments in catechesis.
The first scenario gives us an indication that catechesis was understood as purely
“transmission of Church teachings to the recipients”. The movement can be described as “one
way and downward”. People in authority “gave” the Christian faith for the “salvation of souls”.
The recipients, either baptized or first hearers, received what the early missionaries gave. In
our Philippine history, we know that numerous natives were baptized because they followed
their king and his royal family. Later, the friars catechized our ancestors by way of rote
memory; even learning basic Christian prayers and the Doctrina Cristiana in lengua Española.
Christian life was focused on do’s and don’ts. The rest was history. But no matter how
imperfect their catechetical strategies were, God’s plan of planting the seeds of faith was done.

The second scenario is an eye opener for Christians of today. For us catechists we
cannot stop from asking this basic question: “How can God fulfill His saving plan through you
and through me well in fact, people nowadays are indifferent with the Church, its teachings and
even with God?” Yes, we feel so helpless. Indeed, this reality is like the arrow that has hit our
Achilles’ heel. But this challenge can be a source for on-going catechetical renewal. As
catechists, our role as mediators can effectively be applied.

A catechist is a mediator in our contemporary time in the following ways:

1. The Catechist believes in God who has first loved him/her. This love of God is the
life-force that makes him/her respond to God’s call of serving His people: the
children, the youth, the adults and even the old, from all walks of life. The
catechist believes that God is present in the people whom he/she serves. Confident
that God is “present” even if He’s seemingly “absent” because of the things that he/she
sees in people’s way of life, attitude and behavior, the catechist patiently discovers in
every human person some essential elements that refer to the human person as a being
who “created in God’s image and likeness”. When the minister of the living Word finds
the “hidden treasures in the field”, he/she will help the people to see those hidden
treasures in their lives.
2. The Catechist shares the gift of faith that he/she has received from God through
his/her family, community and friends-----the community of disciples of Jesus
Christ. In the Human Evocative Approach, this is known as the Christian Message.
For Thomas Groome, he calls this as Sharing the Christian Vision and Mission. Take
note, we don’t dictate Church teachings here. We offer to them Christ’s Vision and
Mission for us. The discovery of those “hidden treasures” serves as a fertile ground
where Christian faith can gradually penetrate into their personal and collective lives. In
this way, catechesis, which is one of the most communicative ways of sharing the gift of
faith, takes a very unique task in the mission of the Church in the world.
3. The Catechist’s aim is to make the conversation and the journey between the
Human Person and God ever active, meaningful, transformative and fruitful. God
loves each of us. He can never deny us nor reject us. On the part of the catechized,
they may come to own what they have discovered (“hidden treasures in the field”) and
treasure them by way of faithfully walking hand in hand with God in various ways. The
most possible way that they can articulate their faith-commitment is to do what they
can do in fulfilling God’s Kingdom here on earth. The catechist, therefore, never leaves
what God has gained through and with him/her. He/She nurtures the faith-journey
that is actually on the way to growth and development for Jesus.

Let’s have the courage to take the on-going conversation between God and the Human
Person ever alive. In this unique mission, every catechist must be bold and daring in acting as
the bridge.