Archbishop Henry J. Mansell
Summertime, with nature in full bloom, can provide for many a slower pace, more opportunities for relaxation, and perhaps a touch of serenity here or there. The season can be conducive to more profound reflection on our personal core values and the fundamental structures of our lives. We may build sand castles at the shore only to see them wiped out by the next high tide. What about our interior castles?
Yes, we should be thinking about our own spiritual and religious development and that of our children. There is still significant time to enroll our youngsters in Catholic schools and religious education programs. All growth, all education, and all development which do not involve the cultivation of our spiritual foundations are fundamentally flawed.
Ideologies of secularism and relativism pervade our culture. Too often we hear that the past generation or two generations have not been sufficiently educated in the faith. Too often the statements are true. Something has to be done about it and we start with ourselves.
There is a strong need for catechesis, the systematic presentation of the truths of our faith. As the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops states, “To catechize is to explain the mystery of Christ in all its dimensions, so that the Word of God bears fruit in new life. In addition to communicating the intellectual aspect of the faith, which must never be lacking, catechesis must also communicate the joy and the demands of Christian discipleship.”
There is some irony in the fact that while there has been slippage in too many people’s religious knowledge, there has been no shortage of strong documents on catechesis coming from the Church over the past 40 years: encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, pastoral letters, documents of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, etc.
Especially noteworthy are the General Directory for Catechesis (Vatican, 1997) and the National Directory for Catechesis (USCCB, 2005). Books which should be found and be used in every Catholic home are the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Vatican, 1994) and the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCB, 2006).
Catholic schools, religious education programs, parishes, and homes are the storehouses and should be the powerhouses promoting proper catechesis. With everything, however, the liturgy is especially important for catechesis. “It is the privileged place for catechizing the People of God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1074.) As Pope John Paul II wrote, “Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Jesus Christ works in fullness for our transformation.” (On Catechesis in Our Time, no. 14). Sentiments worthy of reflection during the summer and all year round.
All of which brings us to focus on a special blessing coming to our Archdiocese this fall. The 2007 National Meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, cosponsored by the FDLC and the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy, will be held October 9-13 at the Sheraton Bradley Airport Hotel. It will be the first time for the meeting to be held in Hartford, and it is being hosted not only by our Archdiocese but also by all the (Arch) dioceses of New England.
The theme for the meeting is, what else, “Liturgy: The Privileged Place of Catechesis.” A special Liturgy Day will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13. All who are particularly active in liturgy and catechesis in your parishes are invited to this day, and discounts are available to parishes registering five people or more for the day.
For additional information and registration forms you may check the Archdiocesan Web site (www.archdioceseofhartford.org) or telephone Miss Lucy Zocco, associate director of our Office for Divine Worship, at (860) 242-4020. I am deeply grateful to Lucy and to Father David Baranowski, director of the office, for the extensive volume of work they have been providing in preparation for the convention.
As we exercise our summer reflections over the next few months, I do hope that you will devote priority attention to catechesis and liturgy, and perhaps to a decision to attend some part of the FDLC meeting here in October.
- Archbishop’s Annual Appeal
I am happy to report that as of this writing our total for this year’s Appeal has reached $9,041,913. That is more than the total for all of last year, $9,002,616, and we have six months to go! You may be certain that my reflections during the summer and well beyond will be suffused with the deepest and most prayerful sentiments of gratitude for all that you are and all that you are doing.