As you know, there are four pillars of catechesis on which we need to help the catechumens build a life of faith: word, worship, community, and service (see RCIA, 75). January 1 is World Day of Peace, and it is an excellent time to strengthen the catechumens in the area of service. Pope Benedict has offered some reflections on the topic (click here to see what he said), and the U.S. bishops have also provided some material for parishes to use. The New Year is a time for making resolutions, so perhaps you might consider making some communal resolutions as a parish, setting an example of service for the catechumens to follow. Here are some suggestions from the U.S. bishops’ handout:
- Provide a context for this year’s peace message by sharing a brief history of the message. (This is the 40th anniversary of the first World Day of Peace, which was begun by Pope Paul VI in 1968.)
- Share some of the inspiring themes from past messages to illustrate the Church’s commitment to peace throughout the years.
“Men must always speak of Peace. The world must be educated to love Peace, to build it up and defend it.” —Pope Paul VI, 1968
“If you want Peace, work for Justice.” —Pope Paul VI, 1972
“Life is the crown of Peace. If we base the logic of our activity on the sacredness of Life, war is virtually disqualified as a normal and habitual means of asserting rights and so of ensuring Peace.” —Pope Paul VI, 1977
“Paul VI’s phrase – ‘Development is the new name for peace’ – specifies one of the keys in our search for peace. Can true peace exist when men, women and children cannot live in full human dignity?” —Pope John Paul II, 1987
“To say ‘peace’ is really to speak of much more than the simple absence of war. It is to postulate a condition of authentic respect for the dignity and rights of every human being, a condition enabling him to achieve complete fulfillment. The exploitation of the weak and the existence of distressing pockets of poverty and social inequality constitute so many delays and obstacles to the establishment of stable conditions for an authentic peace.” —Pope John Paul II, 1993
- Help people to be in solidarity with those in other parts of the world; emphasize that we are all part of the one human family.
- Read Chapter 11 of The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church on “The Promotion of Peace” (Chapter 11).
- Encourage parishioners and catechumens to learn more about the church’s engagement in issues of global peace and justice by visiting this site.
- They can also sign up for action alerts on legislative issues.
To download the entire handout and list of activities from the U.S. bishops, click here.