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An Encounter with Jesus Changes Everything
by Pat Gohn, editor of Catechist
Keeping the Lord central in our lives and ministry


 On that first Easter morning, everything changed: Jesus Christ is risen! He who was dead, crushed by our sins in crucifixion, is now alive! This is the heart of the kerygma, the Good News. 


Everything in our Christian life is founded on and qualified by that truth.

Everything in our Lenten practices moves us toward a deeper embrace of that truth. 

Everything in our Triduum and Easter celebrations allows us to participate in the new life that flows from that truth.

Encountering the Lord

With the words of consecration at Mass, the bread and wine offered are profoundly changed — transubstantiated — into the Body and Blood of our risen Lord. We then acclaim the mystery of faith: “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.” 


Our Eucharistic Lord saves us, frees us, changes us. Bishop Robert McManus, of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, teaches that “there is no better spiritual preparation for the catechetical task than to cultivate a deep appreciation and love for the Holy Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist where the catechist will encounter the Lord Jesus and grow steadily in her or his own love relationship with the Divine Teacher.” Bishop McManus expands on our raison d’être, offering a compelling exhortation of our “crucial ministry” in “Passing on the Joyful Encounter." 


St. John Paul II taught: “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people, not only in touch, but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ” (Catechesi Tradendae, 5). 


Encountering Jesus — having a living, breathing relationship with Christ — is at the heart of our Catholic faith. While catechists have remarkable opportunities to bring others to Jesus, we first must be convinced ourselves. To be joyful witnesses for Christ, we must continually nurture our own souls … allowing Jesus access to our hearts and trusting him to change us for the better.

The holiness challenge

This Lent, may encountering Jesus be our focus — and growth in holiness our goal. I love this: “Holiness is not about what you do but with how much love you do it.” That’s good counsel from Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio. He wisely challenges us to change, to move beyond our previous efforts, in “Lent and the Call to Holiness": 

Lent is really a 40-day challenge that is to Christian life what spring training is to baseball. It is a time to go beyond believing in God to actively pursuing him. Lent is a time to train as disciples and achieve new “personal bests” when it comes to faith, hope, and love and all the spiritual exercises that make those spiritual muscles grow! 

In terms of spiritual training, directors of faith formation or religious education ought to turn to Jonathan Sullivan’s recommendations on forming catechists through apprenticeship in “Training Disciple-Makers." 


In the coming holy days, may we all be eager to be apprentices under Christ. 



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