Secret of the Catechist Revealed

Pope Says It's to Live What You Preach

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The secret to being a good catechist is to live what you preach, Benedict XVI told the bishops of Costa Rica.

The Pope said this today upon receiving the prelates in audience, led by the president of the episcopal conference, Bishop José Francisco Ulloa Rojas of Cartago. The bishops are in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

After discussing the possibility of a new evangelization in the country, in the face of a materialistic and secular culture, and the appearance of new religious movements and sects, the Holy Father analyzed the decisive importance of catechists.

"They undoubtedly deserve the gratitude, encouragement, and constant attention of their pastors," he said, "so they always systematically receive a solid Christian formation, taking into account as well that they are called to carry Christian values into the various areas of society: the world of work, of civil society and of politics."

Speaking particularly to catechists, the Pontiff reminded them to "unite the transmission of right doctrine with personal testimony, with the firm commitment to live according to the commandments of the Lord and with the lived experience of being faithful and active members of the Church."

"This example of life," according to Benedict XVI, "is necessary so that your instruction does not stay in a mere transmission of theoretical knowledge about the mysteries of God, but that it leads to embracing a Christian way of life."

This was already the case in the early Church, in which at the end of one's period of Christian initiation, "it was examined if the catechumens ‘have properly lived their catechumenate, if they honored widows, if they visited the sick, if they have done good works,'" the Pope said, citing the "Apostolic Tradition," one of the oldest ecclesiastical constitutions, written around 215.

Of the more than four million residents of Costa Rice, 76.3% of the population is Catholic. The 13.7% remaining belong to evangelical denominations. Jehovah's Witnesses account for 1.3% of the population.