Father Roger Arnsparger: 'Do this in memory of Me'
"Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2226)
"Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children....they are the 'first heralds' for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church." (CCC, 2225)
As we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, parents are front and center because they are the first catechists of their children under the direction of their pastors. Their role is essential in transmitting God's Word to invite their children to a personal faith in Jesus Christ in the heart of the Catholic Church, by which His Will is charged with the guarding, study and proclamation of the Gospel. "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute." (Second Vatican Council, Decree on Education)
To assist parents in this most important task of opening up the way of salvation for children, the Church invites parishioners to the apostolate of "catechist." A catechist is dedicated to deepening his or her faith life in growing in holiness, knowledge of the Church's teachings and practice of the faith in an immersion of self in the parish life. How blessed parents are to work together with catechists who are so generous and willing to help share the Church's faith and invite our young ones into an intentional Catholic life.
St. Paul's description of catechesis is still true today: "For I received from the Lord what I hand on what was handed to me..." (1 Cor. 11:23). We have received of "His fullness" and we readily want to share it. This is the heart of catechesis: to hand on what was handed to us by Our Lord through His Church.
The theme for Catechetical Sunday 2011 is "Do This in Memory of Me" (Lk 22:19). For that reason, Bishop Peter Jugis chose this as the theme of our 2011 Eucharistic Congress.
Bishop Richard J. Malone, chair of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, said the committee hopes Catechetical Sunday will provide the opportunity not only for us to reflect on the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist, but that we are moved to a more intense participation in Mass, worthy reception of Holy Communion, and a more intentional embrace of the Church's sacramental life and mission.
We learn so that we might worship. The greater our understanding of God, His revelation and creation, the more we are able to worship in "spirit and in truth." The highest form of worship in this life is, of course, the Mass. Our attentiveness to understanding the Paschal Mystery prepares us for fulfilling our Lord's instruction: "Do this in memory of Me."
Father Roger K. Arnsparger is diocesan vicar of education and the pastor of St. Michael Church in Gastonia.