Catechetical Sunday: Teaching About God’s Gift of Forgiveness

On Sunday September 21 parishes across the nation will be honoring those who share in the evangelizing and teaching mission of the Church – which is essentially everyone!  But specifically parishes will be recognizing catechists for all ages, Catholic school teachers, youth ministry leaders, RCIA teams and parents.

This catechetical year is focused on Teaching about God’s Gift of Forgiveness, a theme that touches all of us regardless of age.  Before we even begin to talk about forgiveness, we must first talk about our personal relationship with God.

Let me share a personal story. Recently I was on retreat and throughout one particular day, the birds’ songs were so loud that all I could do is sing, “then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou Art.” Later that day I went for a bike ride and I started singing the old gospel hymn, “In the Garden” – “and He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His Own.”  (These are the gospel songs that my grandpa use to sing). That night, as I stood before the Blessed Sacrament, I sang “I Can Only Imagine,” “I can only imagine when all I will do is forever worship you.”  The next day I told my director about these moments, and she said “God is showing off for you.” With all the crazy issues in the world, and all the people who are hurting, God wanted to show off for ME.  Or as another friend said, “God is very fond of you.”

This is the beginning for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is about a relationship with God, and because we are created in His image and thus capable of profound love, we are in relationship with others.  In the safety of this relationship where God confesses His love for us, we are able to look Him eye to eye and confess the ways we have been unable to love as He loves.

So often the Sacrament becomes more about confessing a checklist and less about reconciliation.  The reality is that the Sacrament is both. God confesses His profound Love for us and thus we feel safe in confessing our sins, which in turn reconciles us both to the Father and to our community.

At this moment in time our world is in desperate need of reconciliation.  Imagine what would happen if the Muslims and Christians in the Middle East stopped for a moment and said, “I am sorry for all the wrong I have done to you and your people.”  Imagine what would happen if the partisan groups of our government would stop and say, “I am sorry for the slander I have said against you.”  Imagine what would happen if the mother said to the father, “I am sorry for… ” or the Father said to the children, “I am sorry for…” or the children said to their parents…

It is when we understand who we are (children of God) and whose we are (God’s beloved) that it becomes clear the role relationships, or lack thereof, have on how we care for and respond to others.

Understanding and practicing forgiveness is not just for the children in schools or PSR, it is for all of us.  God loves each of us so fiercely. Allow yourself to surrender to that fierce love.

by Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis

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