I Echo – what about you?

I love my job. There are many things I love about it, I have a wonderful staff, I work at a dynamic, faith-filled parish – I get paid to talk about Jesus! One of the nice things about my job is my job title – Pastoral Associate of Evangelization & Catechesis. That just sounds important doesn’t it? I find that if you have a job title that no one else can understand it automatically comes off as extremely complicated and important.

The downside of such a job title, though, is actually attempting to define the big, complicated words therein: Evangelization? Catechesis? As Catholics we love to use confusing vocabulary – transubstantiation, Eucharist, indulgence, bingo…I find that in my line of work I have to take a lot of time defining these things.

Catechesis is one of those words. What exactly is catechesis? This is an important question – it is the theme of this entire blog. The word catechesis comes from a Greek term that literally translates as “to echo.”

I must admit, when I first learned this I was a little disappointed. My general understanding of catechesis was much like the definition given by the late, great Pope John Paul II:

“…the name catechesis was given to the totality of the Church’s efforts to make disciples, to help men believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ.” (Catechesi Tradendae)

Now that sounds very important. In my mind, at least in the beginning, to simply “echo” the teaching of Jesus and Church doctrine seemed to make me just an automaton – a non animated tool that simply relays the information that it was given.

It turns out that I was way off the mark! The further I studied the Church’s understanding about catechesis, the more I understood what it means to “echo” as a catechist. Catechesis really is best explained by John Paul II. It’s about making disciples! A catechist is not meant to simply echo the words and teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church. Our job is to do nothing more than echo Jesus Christ himself! Here is the bottom line – we do not echo a message, a word, or even a doctrine. We echo a person – the person of Jesus Christ!

What is an echo? It is an exact representation of it original. If we echo Jesus Christ – we are his exact representation resounding 2000 years later. St. Francis of Assisi was the perfect example of this. His life so mirrored that of his Savior, people of his time named him the “second Christ.” What an honor! His life was such a perfect echo of Jesus, that all who encountered him truly encounter Jesus Christ!

All of us are called to be catechist in our own way. Some catechize in an official capacity to our children, or young people, or our adults. All of us, though, are called to echo Christ to our spouse, our children, our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. How many of us have heard in a homily that “we may be the only Gospel a person encounters today.”

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