A PRIEST – A SIGN OF OPPOSITION
On the day of priestly ordinations I heard this sentence: ‘I feel sorry for these young people and their abilities, which they will have to use in fruitless struggling with children and the youth during religion classes’. I know that it is an important issue for Archbishop, so I would like to ask about the sense of the presence of catechesis at schools. On the occasion of Confirmation and the First Holy Communion there are opinions that catechesis has lost a lot by entering schools, that the process of evangelization was deprived of that aspect ‘if you want’, which was always used by Jesus. There are also people who predict that sooner or later catechesis will return to catechetical halls and in this way the renaissance of the Church will begin. What do Archbishop think about it?
Fr. Zbigniew Suchy
ARCHBISHOP JÓZEF MICHALIK ANSWERS
I anxiously hear these opinions, in others words – I find them unsuitable. For I remember very well the state of ‘catechesis in halls by churches’. Such opinions reveal a problem which is not so much in the catechized youth, but in the so-called outer reformatories of catechesis or in the very evangelizers. That’s true that Jesus used to say: ‘if you want’, but the presence of catechesis at school does not determine a student’s free will. He can internally accept the message or reject it. Jesus, as God, knew that his teaching would not be accepted in Nazareth but as a human being, he did not give up ‘catechizing’ his countrymen. They rejected Him but we cannot say anything about further fates of inhabitants of Nazareth. A thrown seed, must have caused their reactions, they were commenting it and it was growing, ’watered’ with information about Christ’s miracles, finally about His tragic death and resurrection. Many of them surely admitted he had been right and accepted his teaching. St. Paul the Apostle did not ask philosophers of Areopagus whether they wanted to listen to the teaching about the Risen Christ. He used inner intuition of these wise men who worshipped unknown god, and it was the first time in history he had addressed to them preaching, missionary catechesis, starting with this fact of worshipping unknown god. St. Dionizy Areopagita confirms that not everybody turned away in these words: ‘We will listen to you another time’.
Catechesis at school a chance for everybody
It is a very superficial theological foundation of the need for evangelization in the world. The presence of catechesis at school is like a wide offer, which becomes a great chance of evangelical message, because we have a possibility of reaching to a big number of listeners. We should not delude ourselves as catechesis at parishes did not comprise so many young people.
Indeed the diocese of Przemyśl made a big effort and, to much extent, she satisfied her catechetical needs, but even here, in Stalowa Wola, it was impossible to comprise a big per cent of the youth with catechesis, because there was a shortage of place and time. There was a much more difficult situation in other dioceses, for example, the diocese of Gorzów. So, resentments for that time are built in a bit exaggerated way. Despite the probably better form which was the catechesis in the parish, it was impossible to bring up a big number of people who would create the so-called elite. First, there were difficulties, intimidation and fears, later there was a kind of stabilization, that’s true, but was it a suitable deepening? Sociological surveys tell us to doubt it. Moreover, the success of every catechesis depends on a catechist, on a student and atmosphere which is created by closer and further environment.
As it concerns the fact, whether we should not feel sorry for these young priests…The Holy Father Francis, still being a bishop of Buenos Aires, said in one of his sermons: ‘Times in which we live, are urging us. We mustn’t live in order to caress our souls. We do not have any right to close ourselves up in our small world. We must go out towards people and tell them that Jesus lives for them, and tell them with about it with joy, even if sometimes we will look like idiots’. This is a very colloquial phrase but very meaningful. The contemporary priest, like every contemporary Catholic, must be slightly an idiot, and there is no exaggeration in this reference to the Polish reality. A high school student who is an altar boy, can by regarded by his mates as an idiot. It can be similarly said by a selfless donor or a volunteer who loses time for the sake of a weaker man. The youth participating in the Movement of Pure Hearts or an oasis movement, are sometimes defined with similar epithets. So, is a priest supposed to be afraid of such a definition?
Not stopping working for a righteous purpose
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, undertaking a problem of upbringing in his book ‘Fortress’, wrote: ‘And, therefore, I insist on your bringing up your children in such a way so that they would become similar to you. It is not an adjutant who will give them heritage which they will not find in any schoolbooks. Although others, instead of you, can give them stock of your news and basic conceptions, if they are separated from you, they will lose what is inexpressible and what is not in schoolbooks. So, build your children according to your image, so that later they will not be sad while wandering around all over the country, which will be an empty camp for them and, not knowing a key for a treasury, they might miss its treasures.
I do not want to insult anybody, but the last move of the educational authorities, concerning introducing the ‘gender’ ideology in schools or attempts of some parliamentarians to implement sexual education among four-year-olds, are an evidence that the process of upbringing our children is being conducted more and more by ‘adjutants’. The presence of a priest at school, becomes a sign of opposition. The Episcopate warns and is unsuccessfully trying to open eyes of educational authorities to educational dangers which are brought by this new anthropology which took on biological character.
So, there are parents, catechists and priests who should gradate various kinds of opinions, explain appearing ‘isms’ offered as allegedly progressive trends in upbringing. Is it difficult? Let’s cite Saint-Exupery again: ‘If you want to be as free as a poet, you must have trained brain and elaborated style and it means a fight, coercion and perseverance. Do you remember that the condition of happiness is not a search for happiness? Looking for it, you will sit down, and you will not know where to run. Only after you have created something, you will find happiness effective, as a reward’.