Who May Teach the Faith?

A person who is married outside of the Catholic Church is, by his or her very actions, not in full communion with the Church and what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage, and, therefore, is not qualified to teach the Catholic faith to others. To teach the Catholic faith essentially means to teach Christ and all that He taught. As well-intending as the person may be, he must ask himself, “Is my life and the way I live a reflection of what Jesus taught and what the Church teaches about marriage? Am I a good example for children or young people of how they should live the Catholic faith?” Although a person might say that they have no intention of sharing their personal lives with their CCD students or to encourage them to live as they do, by their very example they do so.

In his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (Catechesis in Our Time), our Holy Father John Paul II explains and makes clear for us the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the Church, by Christ Himself, to teach the Catholic faith. Jesus gave to the Apostles one final command — to make disciples of all the nations and to teach them to observe all that He had commanded (Mt 28:19-20).

A CCD teacher is called a catechist. What is catechesis? It is education in the faith for children, young people, and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine and taught in a way that will help the one who hears it to enter fully into the Christian life (CT, n.18). In order to teach Christ, however, a catechist must first “put on” Christ — become like Him. It is Christ alone who teaches. Anyone teaches Him to the extent that he or she is Christ’s spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his or her lips. Every catechist must strive constantly to transmit by his or her teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus (CT, n.6).

It can be a very painful situation for those who have separated themselves from some of the aspects of Church life by stepping outside of it in the choices they have made. Sometimes it may happen that they took these actions not understanding the consequences. It is very evident that many people do not have a full knowledge of the faith, and it is not always through fault of their own. This is a very serious matter and one that a person should consider carefully with thought of doing something about it.

The mistake that we often make is in thinking we have all the time in the world to change our ways and become what God wants for us. Satan convinces us of that. It is his great lie. One day, though, all of the tomorrows we thought we had will be gone, and we will be face to face with Jesus. Every action in this life will have a consequence. So, if a person is not living according to His teachings, he or she should do something about it today. If you are married outside the Church, it may be possible to have your marriage validated so that you may be in full communion again. Talk to your pastor and seek the help of the Church. It is your home, where you belong.

© Copyright 2004 Grace D. MacKinnon

For permission to reprint this article, or to have Grace speak at your event, contact Grace MacKinnon at grace@deargrace.com.

Grace MacKinnon holds an M.A. in theology and is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine. Her new book Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith is available in our online store. If you enjoy reading Grace’s column, you will certainly want to have this book, which is a collection of the first two years of “Dear Grace.” Faith questions may be sent to Grace via e-mail at: grace@deargrace.com. You may also visit her online at www.DearGrace.com.

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