ORDINARY TIME: SUNDAY 24 B — On the Way with Jesus as Catechist–Faith Prayed

MARK 8, 27-35

27  Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ … 

31  Then he began to teach them … 

New Jerusalem Bible

Doubleday 1984

Faithful Choices



Mark in the Sunday passage and other evangelists often depict Jesus as model catechist.  Jesus proclaimed to, taught, and lived out God’s saving message among his disciples and others.  

The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC 1997) 231 locates the vocation to catechize in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.  

Christ’s faithful are all commissioned by the Lord to “re-sound or re-echo” 21 centuries of lived experience of Jesus Christ in the Church and the world: bishops (GDC 222), ordained ministers (GDC 224), parents as primary agents (GDC 226), religious (GDC 228), and other lay catechists (GDC 230 – 231).  

Collaborating in this common vocation some members are called to assume the ministry of catechesis in particular churches and parishes.



For Catechists: That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.

Pope Francis addressed participants in the Pilgrimage of Catechists on 27 September 2013.  The occasion was the International Congress on Catechesis in the Year of Faith.



Excerpts of the Pope’s Address:

  • Catechesis is a pillar of faith education and we need good catechists!
  • Thank you for your service to the Church and in the Church.
  • Teaching the faith is something beautiful! … perhaps the best legacy we can pass on: … to educate in the faith, to make it grow.
  • To help children, young people and adults to know and love the Lord more and more is one of the most exciting aspects of education. It builds up the Church!
  • To “be” catechists!
  • Not to “work” as catechists: this will not do.
  • Catechesis is a vocation: “being a catechist” … not working as a catechist … because this is something that embraces our whole life.  It means leading people to encounter Christ by our words and our lives, by giving witness.
  • Remember what Benedict XVI said: “The Church does not grow by proselytizing; she grows by attracting others.” And what attracts is our witness.  Being a catechist means witnessing to the faith, being consistent in our personal life. This is not easy! We help, we lead others to Jesus with our words and our lives, with our witness.
  • I like to recall what Saint Francis of Assisi used to say to his friars: “Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words”. Words come… but witness comes first: people should see the Gospel, read the Gospel, in our lives.
  • To “be” a catechist requires love, an ever stronger love for Christ, a love for his holy people.  …
    • This love comes from Christ!
    • It is Christ’s gift!
    • And if it comes from Christ, it also starts with Christ, and
    • we too need to start anew with Christ,
    • from the love he gives us.
  • What does this starting anew from Christ mean for a catechist? For you, but also for me, since I am a catechist too? What does it mean?

Pope Francis’ Complete Address:


In praying the September intention for evangelization for catechists we remember St Robert Bellarmine.

A Prayer for Catechists Art Source: Loyola Press

A Prayer for Catechists
Art Source: Loyola Press


St Robert Bellarmine 1542 - 1621

St Robert Bellarmine   1542 – 1621

A Patron of Catechists and Catechumens

On 17 September we celebrate the memorial of St Robert Bellarmine.  As a servant of the Church he served under five popes as one of the most influencial theologians during the last decades of the 16th century and the first decade of the 17th century.  As an erudite scholar of sacred scripture and catholic teaching he wrote many books.

His pastoral concerns and ignatian spirituality led him to write two catechisms to help us understand that while the content of our religion is important, the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in his life, death, and resurrection constitute the central source of revelation.

 Emeritus Pope Benedict 16th on St Robert Bellarmine

St_Robert_Bellarmine_Pope_Benedict_XVI_CNA_World_Catholic_News_2_23_11Christ is the Goal of Life

In a General Audience on 23 February 2011 Pope Benedict said this of St Robert Bellarmine:

His preaching and his catechesis have that same character of essentiality which he had learned from his Ignatian education, entirely directed to concentrating the soul’s energies on the Lord Jesus intensely known, loved and imitated. In the writings of this man of governance one is clearly aware, despite the reserve behind which he conceals his sentiments, of the primacy he gives to Christ’s teaching.

St Bellarmine thus offers a model of prayer, the soul of every activity: a prayer that listens to the word of God, that is satisfied in contemplating his grandeur, that does not withdraw into self but is pleased to abandon itself to God. 

A hallmark of Bellarmine’s spirituality is his vivid personal perception of God’s immense goodness. This is why our Saint truly felt he was a beloved son of God. It was a source of great joy to him to pause in recollection, with serenity and simplicity, in prayer and in contemplation of God. …

Bellarmine found in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius recommendations for communicating the profound beauty of the mysteries of faith, even to the simplest of people.  He wrote:

If you have wisdom, may you understand that you have been created for the glory of God and for your eternal salvation.

This is your goal, this is the centre of your soul, this the treasure of your heart.

Therefore consider as truly good for you what leads you to your goal, and truly evil what causes you to miss it. The wise person must not seek felicitous or adverse events, wealth or poverty, health or sickness, honours or offences, life or death. They are good and desirable only if they contribute to the glory of God and to your eternal happiness, they are evil and to be avoided if they hinder it.

For the full text of Pope Benedict’s catechesis on St Robert Bellarmine see:    



Our God Reigns

Leonard E Smith Jr  1974, 1978

Key Scripture References: Isaiah 52, 7; Romans 10, 15 – 16


Verse 1
How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of Him
Who brings good news good news
Announcing peace
Proclaiming news of happiness
Our God reigns our God reigns

Our God reigns our God reigns
Our God reigns our God reigns

Verse 2
He had no stately form
He had no majesty
That we should be drawn to Him
He was despised
And we took no account of Him
Yet now He reigns with the Most High


Verse 3
It was our sin and guilt
That bruised and wounded Him
It was our sin that brought Him down
When we like sheep had gone astray
Our Shepherd came
And on His shoulders bore our shame


Verse 4
Meek as a lamb
That’s led out to the slaughterhouse
Dumb as a sheep before its shearer                                                                                                                                                
His life ran down
Upon the ground like pouring rain
That we might be born again


Verse 5
Out from the tomb
He came with grace and majesty
He is alive He is alive
God loves us so see here
His hands His feet His side
Yes we know He is alive


Verse 6
You watchmen lift your voices                                                                                                                                                    joyfully as one
Shout for your King your King
See eye to eye                                                                                                                                                                                           the Lord restoring Zion
Your God reigns your God reigns

Verse 7
Waste places of Jerusalem
Break forth with joy
We are redeemed redeemed
The Lord has saved                                                                                                                                                                                and comforted His people
Your God reigns your God reigns


Verse 8
Ends of the earth
See the salvation of your God
Jesus is Lord is Lord
Before the nations                                                                                                                                                                                  He has bared His holy arm
Your God reigns your God reigns




Pope Francis underscores the priority of witness in the catechist’s vocation: that the faith proclaimed is consistent to the faith lived.

St Robert Bellarmine - bust

Bust of St Robert Bellarmine

With Jesus, St Robert Bellarmine, and others

as models of living and proclaiming faith integrally, 

“what does it mean for me

to start anew

with and in Jesus Christ” 

to live this foundational ministry of the Church 

of echoing faith to others,

informally or formally?