Catechists called to “love with a divine love” at commissioning Mass
Vicar General Father Peter Whitely commissions 45 catechists during the Eucharist for Catechists at St Michael the Archangel Chapel in Leederville on the evening of Tuesday, 11 October. Photo: Jesse Roberts
By Rachel Curry
God will be proclaimed to the world through acts of love, not powerful arguments, Vicar General Father Peter Whitely has told attendees at the recent Eucharist for Catechists at St Michael the Archangel Chapel in Leederville.
Attended by some 250 people on the evening of Tuesday, 11 October, the Mass included the commissioning and blessing of 45 catechists for the Parish Religious Education Program, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Personal Advocacy Service.
During his homily for the occasion, principal celebrant Fr Whitely drew on Pope Francis’ sermon from the recent Mass for the Jubilee for Catechists at the Vatican, held as part of celebrations for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Fr Whitely began by speaking about Jesus’ two Great Commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength’, and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.
He explained that these commandments were not really new, as they could be found in the first books of the Bible. What was new, however, was Jesus’ instruction that we show divine love to one another.
Catechists for the Parish Religious Education Program, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Personal Advocacy Service assemble before the congregation to be commissioned and blessed. Photo: Jesse Roberts
“He commanded us to love one another as He has loved us. And how did He love us? St John says: ‘As the Father has loved me so have I loved you’,” Fr Whitely said.
“The Father loved Jesus with a divine love. Jesus loved us as the Father loved Him, that is, with a divine love. He commands us to love our neighbour with that same love.”
This divine love became possible when Jesus rose from the dead and poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Fr Whitely continued.
“As we nourish the life of the Spirit within us through prayer, through celebrating the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and when we follow Jesus’ commandments, we will find the Spirit growing with in us, enabling us to love others as He has loved us, even to the extent of laying down our lives for them in the way that He did for us,” he said.
Fr Whitely concluded that when we love in this way, we are proclaiming God to the world, as catechists do when they instruct their students.
“It won’t be merely excellent and well prepared lessons that will have an effect on them,” he said.
“Nor will it be powerful arguments, nor placing unnecessary practices on them, but it will be by listening to their stories, their hopes and their dreams, their heart yearnings and their struggles; by welcoming them and honouring them and never judging them; by the simple and authentic testimony of our lives, that is, by truly living what we are proclaiming.
“All these loving actions will lead those we are instructing to the God-who-is-love, the God whom Jesus came to reveal.”