padre Sergio La Pegna, dc
The Superior General
Dearest brothers and friends,
We still have fresh in our minds and hearts the great celebration of 15 May 2022 when, in one of the most numerous canonisation ceremonies of all time, Pope Francis proclaimed 10 new saints, including our own César de Bus.
In this annual Message for his liturgical feast, I deem it fitting to recall a fundamental aspect of his life and mission: being a catechist.
Pope Francis, with his canonisation, has presented the experience of St César to the universal Church, not for us to repeat today what he accomplished, but so that we may have an intercessor and a point of reference in our being catechists and in the way we do catechesis in our time.
It can all be summed up in the two expressions used by St César in the address delivered on the founding of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Christian Doctrine, on 29 September 1592, which are very familiar to us: we are called to be a “living catechism” and “angels of light”.
Here we find two fundamental elements: “being catechists” and not “doing catechism”, first of all with one’s life and then by cultivating one’s personal relationship with the Lord; and being “angels”, that is, messengers, of “light”, which is the Word of God.
In order to rediscover and help others to rediscover the beauty and importance of catechesis at every stage of our journey as disciples of Jesus, I believe it is worthwhile, in this Message, to listen to the words of St César himself who, in a simple and profound way, indicates the purpose of catechesis for our lives. The following passage is taken from the Family Instructions, St César’s commentary on the Catechism Ad Parochos.
“You will come (to catechesis, Ed.) if you consider the one who calls, with what voice and why. The one who calls you is your Father, Father of the soul who works to nourish, to dress and to give eternal rest to your soul. Nevertheless, with what voice, my children, this word does not come out only from the mouth, but from the heart, and that word always uttered with love and compassion […]. To what are you called? To hear? It is not to suffer or to sadness or to quarrel, but only to enjoy. Moreover, why? In order to teach you not vain or useless things, or harmful things, but good, necessary and profitable things; that is, the fear of God. I will teach you to be good Christians. Now, to make a good Christian, it is necessary to make him have the will, teach him the things that he has to do, and give him the means by which he can do what he has to do. Everything is included in Christian Doctrine, which treats the articles of our faith, the commandments of God and the Sunday prayer.
I want to educate or instruct my children, as my father educated his. I want my children not to swear by God, that they are obedient to their parents that they are not false, lying, that they are devout, pious, that they pray in the morning when rising and before going to bed, that they are so good that they all know them as such. Come, then, my children, come to the Christian Doctrine, come and I will teach you.
What? I will teach you the end or purpose for which God placed you in this world, why he created you in his image and likeness. I will teach you to know God, the world and yourself. I will teach you to live well and to die happy, finally, I will teach you to obtain the grace of God and to maintain yourself in it in this world, and to obtain his glory in the next.
– and feed your soul on the Word of God. It is milk and meat: « still infants in Christ I fed you with milk and not solid food » (1Co. 3,1-2) . If we take so much trouble to feed our body, would we let our soul die of hunger? We read that the crowds, which followed Jesus Christ on the mountain, were pleased to nourish their soul, but that they had no concern or care for their body of which Jesus took care and fed them after three days;
– and listen to the Word of God. Whoever comes from God listens to the words of God (Jn. 8,47). it is medicine, it is light, two-edge sword, hammer, it is that which teaches us what is necessary to follow, flee, love and fear. […];
– to profit greatly. Why does the merchant or trader go toward Levant, why does the soldier hazard or risk himself to face the assaults to be paid ten francs? However, what does it profit man to win the whole world, and to lose his soul? If each one tries to profit, with greater reason the Christian should do it, because not to advance is to go backwards on the path of God.” ”.
These are, dear friends, the words of a Saint who was passionate about the Lord, His Word and the desire to pass it on to others. May these words awaken in all of us the joy and desire to know and love the Lord, as Saint César did.
Happy feast day.
Rome, 15 April 2023
416th anniversary of the death of Saint César