Pastor’s Corner for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year A, by Br. Sechaba Liphoko

Our Lord Jesus Christ, from the very beginning of His public ministry, announced that His saving message was for all. Historically, the name Catechesis was given to the totality of the Church’s efforts to make disciples, to help men believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ.

Catechesis refers to the education in the faith of children, young people and adults, which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view of initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life. While not being formally identified with them, catechesis is built on a certain number of elements of the Church’s pastoral mission which have a catechetical aspect, that prepare for catechesis, These are: the initial proclamation of the Gospel or missionary preaching to arouse faith; examination of the reasons and for belief; experience of Christian living; celebration of the sacraments; integration into the ecclesial community; and apostolic and missionary witness.

During his recent Catechesis on Baptism, the Pope quoted from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults No 85. The text he used and cited was from the signing of the senses in the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.

According to Pope Francis, the cross is the badge that shows who we are: our speaking, thinking, looking, working is under the sign of the cross that is under the sign of the love of Jesus to the end. The children are marked on the forehead. Adult catechumens are also marked on the senses, with these words: “Receive the sign of the cross on your ears to hear the voice of the Lord”; “On the eyes to see the splendour of the face of God”; “On the mouth, to answer the word of God”; “On the chest, because Christ dwells through faith in your hearts”; “On the shoulders, to support the gentle yoke of Christ” (Rite of the Christian initiation of adults, No. 85). Christians become the extent to which the cross is imprinted in us as an “Easter” mark as noted in Rev 14: 1, 22: 4, making visible, even outwardly, the Christian way of facing life.

Catechesis should help us to grow in the faith through participation in the Sacraments, and spiritual direction and retreats. At the same time, adults’ catechesis assists us in viewing our culture with the eyes of faith. It helps us to assess rightly what is good for the life of society and what is destructive, to respond to the moral questions of our day, to see how the social teaching of the Church applies to the circumstances of daily living, and to help us see the unity of faith and reason and so to avoid fundamentalism or subjective and arbitrary interpretations of the faith.

Today marks the Third week of Lent whereby according to the RCIA 144, we encounter the catechumens being scrutinized for the first of three times. These scrutinise are ‘rites for self-searching and repentance and above all a spiritual purpose.’ Furthermore, during the Third Week of Lent the catechumens are also presented with the Creed and all this takes place within mass in the presences of a community of the faithful.