Au In the beginning was the Word

1.                  One frequent question that one can be heard from those who get in contact with the community (or a group) is this: What do you do at your reunions? How are your reunions? One important thing is this. We cannot ignore the questions or situations of participants, if we do not want to answer questions or problems that do not exist. For example, in the meeting of Peter and Cornelius the question is assumed (Acts 10, 21.29).

2.         A catechism that welcomes each question or each situation has its impact on the group. Far from been repetitive and conservative it implies a permanent renewal that allows: A reading of life, an experience and story of each one, towards the light of the Word of God, in a community.

3.                  This considered, and adapting to each case, we normally use the pattern of the meeting that St.Paul proposes to the Corinthian community: When you assemble one has a psalm, another an instruction, a revelation or a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything should be done to edify…If there is no interpreter, keep silent in the assembly.  Each one should speak to himself and to God (1 Cor 14, 26-28). Then different elements are combined:

Psalm: prayer about what most catches our attention and is related to personal, social or ecclesiastical events.
Instruction: listening to the Word of God once spoken, recollected in the Scriptures and in the living Tradition of the Church.
Revelation: listening to the Word of God spoken today in a concrete circumstance.
Tongue: communication done in other languages and needs an interpretation for understands.
4.                  Besides this pattern we use also another one which is similar:

Information: about the most important events since the last assembly.
Listen: to the Word of God pronounced already or said today.
Prayer: from what is listened, lived, with a psalm, with our own words, with a song.
5.                  What if there is silence? There are people who think that behind silence is nothing, that there is simply emptiness. Others feels anguish, they cannot stand silence. Silence can mean blockage, tension, lack of communication, but also meditation, listening, and contemplation. In many cases, the Word can be born in silence.

6.                  From the teaching point of view, gradually we are developing a set of catechisms that facilitate the initiation into the mystery of Christ and the personal confession of the whole Church faith, which implies an offering of the Gospel (and the Bible) and an offering of the Apostle’s Creed; it also facilitates the initiation into the justice of the Gospel, proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount, which implies a conversion process from the old person into a new person; father more it facilitates the initiation of the Christian prayer whose model is the way Jesus prayed; finally it facilitates the initiation into the evangelization mission of Jesus, who keeps saying: Go and make disciples (Mt 28,19).

7.                  All of that in the service of the Word as said today, which must always have priority and can displace what has already been planned or programmed. The Word of God, alive and effective, can arrive through many ways: personal, social, ecclesiastical events that are significant and eloquent (signs); biblical readings of the day (or of Sunday); in experiences like the one of St. Augustine (Take and read…).

8.                  Gradually in a simple way, it is possible to start to learn the complex, richness and variety of catechumenal pedagogy. Here there are some of the most important keys. It is instructive to listen to the Word of God which becomes an event (to give the word to the Word); of relationship, communication, group (to give the Word to the group); of experience (to give to events); of experience of faith (to give the Word to witnesses); of information and documentation that is needed (to give the Word to objective doctrinal, scientific, legal data); of personal community discernment (to give the Word to light); of personal life: commitment, testimony, liberation, overcoming of infrahuman situations, evangelization (to give the Word to events); of confession of faith, synthesized in the symbol of faith (to give the Word to the one who believes); of prayer: initiation in vivid and spontaneous prayer, conversation with God who speaks (to give the Word to psalms, in the name of God the Father); of celebration: festive dimension of the Word of God fulfilled in the events (to give the Word to a feast).

9.                   The roll of the one who leads the group, the one who instructs the Word (Ga 6,6), is very important,. His function is to be the guide. When Philip heard the eunuch reading the prophet Isaiah, he said: “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” (Acts 8, 30-31). Philip guided him not only in the meaning of the Scriptures but also the meaning of events. All that happened that day has a key: the Good News of Jesus (8,35). The leader of the group will make clear in few words what is the objective and the plan of the reunion, he will make it easy for each one to express themselves, he will try to find a balance between the different keys of catechumenal pedagogy, he will follow up the personal process of everyone, and will do the periodic evaluation of the group.

10.              How can a group start? A group can start by different ways. It is fundamental to share the same experience of faith. One way to start can be by an initial nucleus that is assimilating what is basic (Mk 4,34), that is becoming a community that listens to the Word of God in the midst of events (Mk 2,2), that is opening to receive new members (Acts 2,47). To begin with there is no need to start with many: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18,20). Personal relationship, invitation, the call (Mk 10,4) are very important. A general calling can be done in the parish church that includes these elements: information (about what are you looking for), testimony (about what was meant personally to you), invitation, (call). The ways through which you find Christ are very different. Signs of the Gospel (Mt 11,5), lived by persons, groups and communities, mean for many the beginning of their evangelization process.