9/15/2011 10:02:00 AM DIRECTOR'S VIEW Do this in memory of me
BY JEANNE SCHREMPF
The month of September always fills me with anticipation, promise and energy brought on by the opportunity to begin again. The tempo of summer gives way to the acceleration of autumn, with its crowded calendar, schedules and commitments.
As families organize for school beginnings, each parish catechetical and youth ministry leader, Catholic school teacher and administrator and diocesan staffer prepares for a new catechetical year.
Traditionally, parishes, schools and dioceses plan the catechetical year under an annual theme selected by the U.S. Catholic bishops. They celebrate this beginning on the third Sunday of September, designated as "Catechetical Sunday."
Until recently, the annual catechetical theme was taken from the liturgical readings for that Sunday. Four years ago, the bishops - exercising their role as teachers - decided instead to use this occasion to proclaim and renew catechesis on particular doctrines of our Catholic faith.
The emphasis last year was on marriage as the sacrament of enduring love; the previous year was the primacy of Jesus as the Word of God.
On the weekend of Sept. 18, U.S. dioceses, schools and parishes will celebrate "Do This in Memory of Me" as the 2011 catechetical theme. The goal of our bishops is to invite all Catholics to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through faith formation focused on sacred Scripture and tradition, with special emphasis on the Eucharist.
Among many roles, a bishop is called to be a teacher. In our Diocese, we see this clearly in Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who teaches by his spoken and written words, but also strongly by the witness of his life.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made available rich resources - theological essays, homilies, Scriptural reflections, prayer services, blessings and catechetical aids - to help in celebrating Catechetical Sunday.
In our Diocese, the new academic year also starts the second year of "Amazing God," our diocesan initiative of evangelization and spiritual renewal. The theme for Amazing God this year, "The Heart of Christ," builds on "The Love of God" theme from year one.
"The Heart of Christ," like the new Catechetical Sunday theme, calls us to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ and invites us to a renewed commitment to the Eucharist as the center of our lives.
To assist in this renewal, we will be introduced to revisions in the new Roman Missal through special formation events to prepare for the changes in the liturgy beginning in Advent.
"Do This in Memory of Me" and "The Heart of Christ" are complementary themes. They become two verses of the same hymn or prayer. They are a call to each person to know Jesus Christ personally and intimately through the Eucharist, in Scripture and tradition, and in prayer and mission.
As we reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and its call to remembrance, compassion and forgiveness, we know well that our nation and world can only heal and move forward by each young person and adult living in relationship with one another as the heart of Christ.
It is the Eucharist that centers us and sends us forth in mission to serve those suffering from the flood waters of the recent hurricanes...to welcome the newcomer and stranger...to visit the sick and infirm...to answer the call to be catechists...to reach out to those alienated and inactive in our Church communities...and to use our gifts and resources to restore and rebuild a nation and world "in memory of Jesus" as His heart, voice and hands in these times.
In doing this, we will fall in love again with our Amazing God, who fell in love with us and never stopped.
(Jeanne Schrempf is director of the Albany diocesan Office of Evangelization, Catechesis and Family Life.)