Good Seed in Rich Soil: a Design for Summertime Catechesis  

By Joyce Stolberg

 

Following the jubilant Easter season, which actually closed at Pentecost, the Church now seems to ease back into Ordinary Time slowly and somewhat reluctantly.  This Sunday (June 26) we experience the full and glorious celebration of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ when, according to our best traditions, the whole body of Christ, the Church with all its ranks and members, follows the sacred Body of Christ through the city streets in a supreme public display of Faith and devotion.  When I was a child, we would don, one more time, our First Communion or Confirmation dresses and veils or suits and carry huge calla lilies in procession before the Blessed Sacrament.  The Blessed Sacrament would then be exposed in church for 40 consecutive clock hours.  The lingering June sunlight made it easier to walk to and from church in the evening.  Encourage both neophytes and new inquirers to take part in any special devotions held in your parish church on the feast of Corpus Christi.  Miraculous healings, both of body and spirit, have been known to occur during these processions.  This feast is followed on Friday (July 1) by the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The following Sunday (July 3), the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, is the first Sunday on which you will actually see green vestments worn (though they have been worn during weekday masses).  I usually wear what I call my "grasshopper outfit" --- a lightweight avocado green pantsuit, to greet this early summer liturgy, and give my white dress a well-deserved cleaning.

Summertime is a season of hope and harvesting, growth and development, rest and relaxation, vacations, holidays and a time for slowing our busy lives to take in the smell of flowers.  The readings of the summer Sundays give us a window of insight into the human journey of Jesus Christ and also into his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  They also teach us to gain mastery over our passions and root out the capital sins --- the chief tendencies toward sin, and plant, nourish and develop Christian virtue.  This is a special period of catechesis, when you can introduce your inquirers to the human and divine person of Jesus through his miracles and teachings.  The goal for the gentler calmer season of summer is to foster spiritual growth in an unhurried fashion.  Go to lessons 11 through 15 in "New Beginnings" for a leisurely summer catechesis.  These lessons include the Beatitudes and the Our Father, two of Jesus' most important instructions.  They pulsate with the rhythms of nature in summertime and are supported by readings in all three liturgical years. If summer absences can be anticipated because of scheduled vacations, a retreat day or campout can compress several lessons and perhaps culminate in a joyful recreational event shared by catechumens, sponsors, neophytes and families.  Flexibility and creativity are keys to a successful summer catechetical program. The lessons may be utilized in a retreat design to prepare for the Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate.

Under the inspiration and gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit, the good work begun during Lent and throughout the Easter season has hopefully produced in some inquirers the "first fruits" of initial conversion, a movement of faith and a desire to declare their interest in the Catholic Church by enrolling in the catechumenate.  The Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate may be celebrated whenever a group of inquirers are ready to take this step; celebrating this rite several times a year is encouraged.   The logical and more weighty lessons in Catholic dogma can now take a vacation until they reappear in your autumn sessions.