During the Children’s Mass, the priest uses the homily to ask the kids some questions about the readings. At this Mass, the children sing, do the readings, and bring up the gifts. But what is really shocking is the depth of their answers. “Who is a prophet?” “The one who recognizes God’s will and manifests it to the people,” responded Raquel, a twelve-year-old girl. “Why can’t we serve two lords, God and money?” Israel—known as “the theologian”—responded: “A rich man thinks that he has everything, but he is always sad. Instead of leading him upwards, the money pushes him further down.”
There are always funny moments as well. We asked, “What is the eternal fire Jesus speaks about in the Gospel?” A child raised his hand and said, “definitely the Red Sea.” There are many who come to this Mass, and It’s beautiful to see the parents also participating and enjoying the moment of the questions. Even though we ask the children to raise their hands before responding, sometimes the parents can’t help blurting out answers; this is hilarious to the children. The Catechism offers these kids a proposal that is totally different from the one the world suggests. It is therefore a “revolution,” in every sense, that is divine and definitive.
The same is true for the catechists. Every Thursday morning we get together to prepare the catechism for the weekend. Each time, we finish by giving them a theme to go deeper into: creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. The preparation needs to be personal, beginning from their own experience and from what strikes them about the topic.
Initially, there was some resistance to this work. One of catechists said, partly joking, “Father, before, I would read the Scriptures and understand everything. Now I don’t understand anything.” After two years of working together, the same catechists are the first to look forward to this communal work and what it generates. “Father, we have read all these stories before, but now we notice that they are more true, they speak to us.” It was not easy to be open to changing the traditional way of doing catechism, which was based on the mnemonic learning of certain doctrinal truths. But they are now beginning to discover how studying the Sacred Scripture directly also facilitates their personal growth.
For example, when we started working on the encounters between Jesus and others in the Gospel, trying to identify Jesus’s underlying characteristics, it was beautiful to see in the catechists a change in perspective. It was also beautiful to see them really moved by certain things in the Gospels.
Commenting on the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus, a catechist said: “Father, the same thing that happened to Zacchaeus happens to me. So often my husband and I hide from one another to avoid looking each other in the face. I see that Jesus, in a surprising way, always takes the initiative and shows us our true selves. After reading this episode from the Gospel, I spoke with my husband about many things that I thought were long forgotten.” This simple fact points to a profound change. We are connected to what God gives us to live, and opened up to a new way of facing the challenges.
As Fr. Massimo Camisasca once said, “Our vocation, more than any other, has an attention to the present moment and to the future of the world, because it is a participation in Christ’s heart that looks at history, loves the world, rejuvenates it, and brings men to know and experience their destiny.”
(David Crespo is 36 years old, he is the assistant pastor of the parish of Immaculate Mary, in Mexico City. In photo, David is with some young people of the parish).