This year’s Catechetical Sunday theme calls for something daunting – that is, to safeguard the dignity of every human person. Since the latest global census figures place the world’s population at 7.3 billion, where do we even begin? There are many issues connected with human dignity – opposition to abortion and euthanasia, support for those who are poor, displaced, elderly, or disabled, and so forth. This can make this year’s Catechetical Sunday theme way too massive to envision. Even so, catechists have a particular role to play in not only becoming people of compassion and mercy, but also guiding children and youth in safeguarding their own human dignity as well as that of others.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul urged: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Conforming to Christ doesn’t mean shutting ourselves off from the world – far from it. Rather we enter the world and seek to transform it by and through the love and mercy of God. In such a way we carry out what is good and acceptable and perfect. By embracing the human dignity of all people, we take part in this great transformation. This process starts with our own lives. It then spreads outwards to our families, friends, neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances. From there we move to outer circles – ones that are more global and expansive. Such movement transforms us into people who look beyond our particular age and culture in order to see with the eyes of Christ. Doing so means softening our gaze towards ourselves and others. It enlarges our capacity for generosity and appreciation.
So here’s a simple way to put the theme of Catechetical Sunday into practice. Next time you are at church, in a crowded store, or on a busy street, look around. Notice the diversity of the people surrounding you. Look at the range of skin tones, of hair color, of body shapes and sizes. Isn’t it wondrous? We all have specific voices patterns, family stories, ethnic backgrounds, gifts and abilities. We move differently, have varying tastes and preferences and opinions. Right in our midst, we see the amazing display of humankind. Conforming to Christ then enables us to look beyond and below the surface – to see each and every person as made in God’s image and likeness. Practiced on a regular basis, such awareness keeps us from violating human dignity through stereotyping, generalizing, or placing people in boxes labeled “us” and “them.” The logical “next step” is to pass along this awareness to others.
Celebrate Catechetical Sunday by reading an article on the role of catechist by Dr. Carole Eipers. Discuss the article with other catechists or teachers, or use it to reflect on the gift that these people are in your parish or school.
Download a Catechetical Sunday 2015 Faith Fact that explains Catechetical Sunday, discusses this year’s theme, and provides suggestions for celebrating Catechetical Sunday at home, in school, and in the parish community.