“Excuse me, Father: I see that my son is attracted by this group of young people and can’t wait to come with you all every Saturday. I am happy that he has decided to frequent the parish, maybe he will change his bad attitude a bit. Sometimes, I look at him and at you all and I ask myself: how am I educating my son? Who is helping to look in a deeper way at what is happening in him? I want to understand better what my place is as a father and what God is asking of me. Can we meet next week?” These are words of the father of one of the kids who came with us on our camping trip for middle schoolers. It is one of the many stories that we have come across through the life of the parish and at the school where I teach in Santiago. There are many adults who are seeking a place in which they can embrace the faith, which is often reduced to a ritual, almost magical, without any connection to what happens in daily life.
For more than three years now, I have been following the RCIA at our parish: a small group of fifteen people, born from the need to establish a relationship with the Church in order to understand better how to be “fathers” according to the faith. I proposed that we read the catechism together to go deeper into what the Church teaches, and to see how one can live in the light of the faith.
I encountered a group of mothers whose children are preparing for their First Communion. They asked me a ton of questions about the faith and about the teachings of the Church: for example, they didn’t understand why a person who is divorced and remarried, or who regularly uses contraception, can’t receive communion. Thinking about the goodness of Jesus, they considered the position of those who administer the sacraments unjust. As we were talking, I saw a profound wound in their life, the need of something great that might fill the void. And so, I began to tell the story of original sin, of the wound and of the profound need that we all have within. And, as I explained, I saw tears falling from the eyes of one of them, as if she didn’t have anything more to defend, as if the response to her question was feeling herself truly looked at and embraced.
Many of the families that we meet are Catholic but their knowledge of the faith is ambiguous, and they don’t know the meaning of the Eucharist or of Baptism. They only have the idea of something sacred to respect. At times, I ask myself if it makes sense to propose the catechism to them. However, I see that they have a deep need for the truth, and are seeking someone who might help them to look at their life not as a battle to wage but as a challenge to discover together. In fact, many have continued coming even if their children have already received their First Communion. What pushes them to come is their need of somebody with whom they can present their questions and desires. They ask to have somebody next to them who might help them to fix their eyes on the point where real life springs forth. Even for myself, the beauty of catechism is the opportunity it affords to create personal relationships, the possibility to accompany these persons on a path in which everyday life is full of something more.