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by Eric Gurash
The summer months provide a perfect time for us catechists and DREs to grow in our own faith lives. Even if you still have fall planning or summer events like a parish VBS on your agenda, it’s important to intentionally set aside time to take advantage of sunny weekends and longer days for deepening your own relationship with Christ. And you don’t need to travel to a retreat center to do this. Weather permitting, take your prayer out into the world, settling in your backyard, a local park, or your favorite coffee shop. Or take a walk through your neighborhood. The following outline can easily be adapted to a day, a weekend, or a week-long series of prayerful reflections for a do-it-yourself summer retreat.
This is the second article in a series about the spiritual life of catechists, inspired by the list of characteristics in the National Directory for Catechesis.
Have you ever encountered truly genuine people, those about whom you can say, “With (name), what you see is what you get”? That’s essential for catechists. The NDC calls this, “a coherence and authenticity of life.” It is “characterized by [the catechist’s] faithful practice of the faith in a spirit of faith, charity, hope, courage, and joy.” (229)
I consider it a blessing to write about St. Ignatius of Loyola in honor of his feast day. Five years ago, I really didn’t know anything about this great saint of our Church, nor of the Jesuit order, which he founded. A chance encounter with a Jesuit priest changed that for me, and since that dinner conversation, I’ve incorporated Ignatian spirituality into my daily life.
“I believe in…the communion of saints.”
On Divine Mercy Sunday of this year, the Church celebrated the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Pope Francis, near the conclusion of his homily, asked that “these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church.”
It is easy to think of saints as people who existed only in the mists of time-gone-by, people who walked the earth wearing halos. The truth is, the men and women we call saints today lived complex lives. They too were sinners, but they persevered in faith. The canonization of Saints Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II remind us that still today God continues to raise up men and women who model for us the holiness to which we too are called.
At her blog Days of Deepening Friendship, Vinita Hampton Wright rejoices in the arrival of summer and all it bring with it. In one particular post, “The Correct Use of More Daylight,” Vinita writes that the “long days [of summer] are a gift,” and, “we would do well to consider how to approach the lengthened hours.”
I don’t know how others in catechetical ministry view the approach of summer, but for me, it is the most welcome time of the year—apart from the start of the new faith formation sessions a few months later.
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