The Marian Catechist and Life-long Formation

by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.

Marian Catechists need a life-long formation in the four qualities expected of everyone who wants to be a true catechist.

Number One: Study of the Word of God

In its basic meaning, study is not so much an academic discipline as a zealous acquisition of knowledge in order to share one’s learning with other persons.

To study, therefore, means to learn so that I may pass on to other minds whatever knowledge I have personally acquired. The knowledge that a Marian Catechist should acquire is the knowledge of Catholic faith and morality, liturgy and spirituality, canon law and Church history. All of these are to be learned according to the Church’s Magisterium, that is, her teaching authority as vested in the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

In accord with the directives of the Apostolic See, Marian Catechists employ a twofold vademecum in their apostolate: the Catechism of the Catholic Church for doctrine and the General Directory for Catechesis for catechetical method. (Cf. GDC 8, 9)

Number Two: Familiarity With God

The knowledge of a Marian Catechist must not be sterile information but a fruitful wisdom that becomes living knowledge, which produces good fruits in a life that responds with generosity to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. (Cf. GDC 156)

Number Three: Spirit of Prayer

The Marian Catechist is not only faithful to the required exercises of piety. He or she is a person who sincerely strives to live in the spirit of prayer. The Marian Catechist cultivates the habit of living in the presence of God. (Cf. CCC 2565)

How does this living in the divine presence differ from the practice of familiarity with God? It differs as action differs from disposition or as actual correspondence with God’s grace differs from the constant readiness to do His will.

Number Four: Self-Detachment

Underlying the previous three qualities of a good catechist is internal detachment from creatures. (Cf. CCC 2544)

Since the spirituality of the Marian Catechist is based on that of St. Ignatius Loyola, it will be useful to quote some of his maxims on detachments and self-conquest.

  • We should make more account of renouncing self-will than of raising others from the dead.
  • Each person should convince himself that he will make progress in the spiritual life in proportion to his detachment from self and the desire for personal advantage.
  • The empty honors of earth cannot satisfy you. Your heart is not narrow enough for the whole world to suffice for it. Nothing but God can fill it. I am not trying to extinguish your ardor for glory, nor inspire you with mean thoughts. Be ambitious, be high-minded, but let your ambition aim higher by despising all that is perishable.
  • Life would be unbearable to me if I were to discover in the depths of my soul some remains of what is human and which did not belong entirely to God.

These are the kind of sentiments that a Marian Catechist should ask our Lord to give him or her. They are the seed bed for a fruitful apostolate. (Cf. CCC 852)

Spiritual Tips from Father John Hardon

Deepen the understanding of your Faith by meditating on the Apostle’s Creed.

Cultivate the habit of often using the name “Jesus” in silent prayer. When you get up in the morning and retire at night, invoke His Holy Name. And during the day, learn to associate whatever you are doing with a moment’s prayerful aspiration, pronouncing the word, “Jesus”.

If you do this, you will not only grow I your belief that Jesus is indeed God who became Man, you will experience the spiritual power that is available to those who call upon Him in faith.

Take one article of the Creed each month of the year…repeat the process the following year. E.g. in January, prayerfully think of what the first article of the Apostles’ Creed means. Ask our Lord daily to better appreciate what you are saying when you declare, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” CCC

Each day, if only for a few minutes, read a passage or two from the Bible, telling about God’s power in creating the world and keeping it in existence (Job 38, 39), or about the majesty of God revealed in the works of creation (Ps. 8).

Memorize short sayings from the scriptures, addressing God as your creator and Lord. The Psalms are filled with such acts of adoration.

Get into the habit of thanking God often, if only in a word, for the wonderful creatures He daily---and constantly---places in your life.

Make acts of humility during the day, telling God that, except for Him you would be the nothing from which He brought you into being.

Slowly recite the “Glory Be to the Father” several time during the day.

When you make the Sign of the Cross think of what you are saying…that you are making an act of faith in the Holy Trinity…

Daily Guardian Angel Prayer and St. Michael Prayer.

Daily Meditations on the person, life, death and resurrection of Christ; daily recitation of the Rosary; and daily recitation of the Angelus.

Four days of each week have, over the centuries, been specially associated with the mysteries we profess in these articles of the Creed: Sunday, the Resurrection of Christ from the dead; Wednesday, in honor of St. Joseph; Friday, in commemoration of Christ’s Passion and Death; Saturday, in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary…remind ourselves in some practical way on each of these days what we believe about these mysteries…

Copyright © 2001 Inter Mirifica. Used with Permission.
Previously published in The Tilma, Summer 2001.