Initiating Our Catechesis with Enthusiasm and Joy

Authored by Dr. Joseph Hollcraft in Issue #34.4 of The Sower

In the summer of 1995 I traveled from one side of the state of California to the other. I was traveling with “Eucharistic Conference or bust” in mind. I was told by a friend of mine that I was going to get some of my questions answered on the Eucharist. Admittedly, I was struggling with my faith as a cradle Catholic—in particular, on all subject matter concerning the Eucharist. I arrived in Southern California on a Friday evening. I was unable to make the first night of talks, but I made a point to attend every talk from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. Over the course of those thirty-six hours I absorbed every syllable and every word as indeed they were answering most of my questions.

That being said, while what the speakers had taught had my full attention, it was in fact the life-giving spirit from which they spoke that captivated me. For the first time I had come into contact with speakers who were genuinely excited about their faith and who were in love with Jesus Christ: they were Catholic. I had often heard Protestants Christian speakers who spoke with a sense of authority. But the genuine passion and sense of vigor of these Catholic speakers—and indeed they also spoke ‘with authority’—left me pining for more.

Even without an explicit summons, I knew that I was being invited to “go deeper.” I was being evangelized by the spirit of truth, and it was opening me up to listen more acutely to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other authoritative documents of the Church had to say on the Eucharist.

I was being drawn in to what the speakers were saying because of their genuine enthusiasm and their witness of love for the faith. Interestingly, the Greek root to the word enthusiasm is en-theos, which literally translates “that bears a god within”. As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio noted in his address to Catechists: “enthusiasm is to be led by a divine inspiration that makes use of our person to manifest itself…it also implies the uplifting of the mind to something that inspires interest, joy, admiration, provoked by a strong interior motivation. It is expressed as passion, fervor, boldness, and determination.”

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