In Season and Out of Season

Ordination of St. Timothy by St. Paul

As I was praying Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the exhortation from St. Paul to St. Timothy in the reading to  “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2) resonated in my heart.  It is not always easy, but the Church wants her children to receive a full catechesis – systematic, organic and complete (CCC #5).  The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) put out by the Congregation for the Clergy in 1997, around the same of of the official promulgation of the Latin Editio Typica of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on this topic states in paragraph 30 that “various problems exist with regard to the content of catechesis: there are certain doctrinal lacunae concerning the truth about God and man; about sin and grace and about eschatology; there is a need for a more solid moral formation; presentations of the history of the Church are inadequate; and too little importance is given to her social teaching.” It is not always easy to teach the truth, but we are called by Christ to offer the People of God the fullness of the faith “in season and out of season.”  Several years ago, I was attending a Mass at a nearby Parish that I did not regularly attend. The Gospel had been on the topic of the “faithful and prudent servant whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time” (Mt 24:45).  When it was time for the homily, the priest spoke to his congregation from the heart, saying that sometimes there is an unwritten rule that if he doesn’t preach on certain topics then everyone will remain satisfied and happy members of the Parish.  He went on and said that he felt the need to be that “faithful and prudent servant” and that in order to fulfil this, he was going to start that night, that maybe he hasn’t been as vigilant as the Lord is calling him to be.  Then he took his Catechism of the Catholic Church in hand and began to read the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and to sensitively explain it to his people.  I was highly edified by his humility and courage.  He did it with such sensitivity and humility that I felt that his words were being well received by his people, despite the fact that perhaps they had never heard that teaching, or never heard it explained, or maybe felt challenged by it.

In being faithful to teaching the whole content of the faith, however, the Church does not call us to “assault” people with truth :) God did not and does not reveal Himself all at once, but rather gradually.  The pedagogy (teaching style, as it were) of God is one that is gradual. This is how the Church encourages us to teach – gradually; gradual, yet complete and full (cf. CCC 69;  GDC 139). This helps people to assimilate what they are learning gradually, because this is how we learn.  When there is too much to assimilate, it spills out and can seem overwhelming. There is a happy balance!

In whatever way you are called upon to lead others to a deeper knowledge of their Faith, may you be blessed this day and always, as you strive to faithfully lead people into relationship with Christ and the Church!