Over the weekend, as I mentioned, we had a catechist training day where one of the main themes was the link between catechesis and the liturgy: the goal of catechesis is communion with Christ, and this takes place in the Liturgy, where the Bridegroom gives his life for His bride. So catechesis and teaching about the Faith always leads to the Liturgy, to that real, tangible encounter with God.
Catechesis on the meaning of the visible signs of the Liturgy leads to people’s fuller experience of the mystery and their part in it. But I realised over the weekend how Liturgy is catechesis itself. Two examples made it really clear…
On Saturday was the first First Communion Mass in the parish for all the children in the parish primary school. I’ve never seen anything like this school… It is truly amazing. When the children read at Mass they read better than most adults. Everything about their participation in Mass is impeccable… And the Liturgy of the First Communion Mass was so perfect, and the children so well-trained, it left me freaking about the second First Communion Mass we have this weekend for all our children in non-Catholic schools… The pressure is on! Anyway, the point is that, when children are confident about how to behave in Mass, this in itself is catechesis. They receive their First Communion kneeling and on the tongue, which is itself catechesis about the Real Presence.
My second example is another parish I was at over the weekend. During the Mass hundreds of children left for Children’s Liturgy, and none of them or their parents genuflected. During the Eucharistic Prayer they were encouraged to sit down at the front of the church rather than kneel. It struck me as being a “counter-catechesis” about the Real Presence. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely, caring, welcoming parish with a very prayerful presence. But I feel we’re not doing children any favours by not giving them clear signs about the Real Presence. Why should they hold onto their faith if we don’t show them we believe God is “Really” Present in our churches?