Last Sunday I met with a group of catechists and faith formation volunteers who serve in various parishes in the Toronto area. Each of them shared their experiences of serving as a catechists. Their stories of teaching and sharing the faith with young people were quite profound. Some told of occasions where children reminded them of God’s work in their lives. Others recounted moments of discovery for both them and their youth. It was obvious that each catechist lived their vocation and found tremendous joy in inviting children and youth to explore and deepen their faith and spirituality.
Vocation was a recurrent theme of our conversation on Sunday. All of the catechists were mindful of Pope Francis’ words to catechists during the Year of Faith: “Catechesis is a vocation: ‘being a catechist’, this is the vocation, not working as a catechist.” Teaching the faith is not a job, a duty that were called to, but rather something to which we are called.
Our reflection of vocation was appropriate as Sunday was the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The feast itself, with the opening collect for the liturgy, invites us to consider our own baptism and participation in the life and work of Christ. The Catechism has a wonderful line, inspired by the First Letter of Peter, that through Baptism we “share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission.” This teaching, drawn from Scripture and Tradition, is the very foundation by which all our vocations flourish. Whether it is through ministry as a catechist, doctor, nurse, teacher, religious or even through ordained ministry as a deacon, priest or bishop, we all participate in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
How do we participate in the priesthood of Christ? We do so through offering prayer and sacrifice for the needs of the Church and all God’s people. There is much sadness and suffering in the world and a great need for us to be a prayerful people mindful of all who are in need of God’s grace and mercy. We also participate in the priesthood of Jesus through our prophetic witness, through acts of mercy and a life of charity that invites others to experience and share in the Kingdom of God. Finally, we share in the priesthood of Christ by ruling over sin and injustice. Not only do we work with God’s grace in living well, but we also are called to work for justice for all God’s people, by confronting the injustices we experience in our society and in the world.
Our priestly vocation may appear to be quite the challenge. Yet if we recall Francis’ words to the catechists, our vocation ought to be really apart of our very being. Our participation in the priesthood of Christ is not a job, but rather a way of life.
-Don Beyers, Relationship Manager