I am a Catechist. I have been a Catechist for over thirty years. I could no sooner stop teaching the Catholic Faith than I could rip out my own heart. It is who I am and it gets me into trouble, but this wasn’t always the case.
I had an experience many years ago… I did not tell a dear friend that she was making a decision that was against Catholic Teaching. I didn’t want to intrude. I was afraid to risk the friendship, so instead, I risked her soul. When she realized that she had been in error and I didn’t properly instruct her, she was very hurt that I had not shared the truth with her. How often do we forget the words of Christ to Paul and refuse to act out of fear?
“Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.”
Scripture states the phrase, “Be not afraid,” 365 times. (One reminder for each day of the year.) The experience with my friend taught me that true love risks everything over fear. I was changed that day and have tried my best not to make that mistake again.
This is not a license to judge others. We must treat everyone with kindness, love and humility. For myself, I remember where I once was and how God in His mercy rescued me from myself. This tightrope walk means that we must instruct always with love. We must meet others where they are and not where we want them to be. Tell the truth, but be motivated only by the desire to help another become more holy, not by a desire to show how much we know.
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” 1 Peter 3:15
It is too easy to focus on giving a defense and equally easy to ignore that second part of that scripture teaching, “yet with gentleness and reverence.”
Love, scripture tells us, drives out fear. (1 John 4:18) The truths of the Catholic Faith are unshakeable and always true. They do not change according to fashion, trends, polls or politics. Standing firm in this truth can mean that we risk jobs, friendships, perhaps even our lives, but in not doing so, we can risk our souls or those of the ones around us. Pope Francis reminded us recently, that we must all be witnesses and to be ready, “With small every day martyrdoms, or with a great martyrdom, according to God’s will.” Be strong, my friends, be unafraid. God bless.
Mary Lou Rosien BSW, MA is the RCIA Coordinator at St. Leo Church in Hilton, New York. She is the author of Managing Stress with the Help of Your Catholic Faith (OSV) and Catholic Family Boot Camp (Bezalel Books). Mary Lou is also a columnist with Catholicmom.com, and AmazingCatechists.com