Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Sunday, September 18, 2016, the Church in the United States celebrates Catechetical Sunday, a day especially set aside in order for all of us as a diocesan family to give thanks to God for the faithful service and witness of the nearly 5,000 volunteer catechists who hand on the saving message of the Gospel to over 40,000 children and young people enrolled in our parish religious education programs.
The theme of this year's Catechetical Sunday is “Prayer: The Faith Prayed.” This theme reminds us that there is a deep connection between what we believe and our life of prayer. When we pray, we encounter, in a deep and intimate way, the God who has created, redeemed and sanctified us and who, in Jesus Christ, calls us to the richness and beauty of eternal life. This mystery of our faith “requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2558). In our prayer, then, whether we realize it or not, we meet and experience the thirst of God, who thirsts that we may thirst for Him (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2560).
All of us are aware of the importance of relationships in our lives. None of us can truly live in isolation from one another. Yet at the same time, we know, too, that if a human relationship is to thrive and flourish, if we are to experience a sense of deep friendship with someone else, we must give that relationship time and attention, we must cultivate that friendship, and we must express our friendship and love both in words and in other meaningful ways.
It is really not very different in our relationship with God. He is the One who first seeks us and invites us into a lasting friendship - a covenant relationship - with Him. As in all good friendships, though, we must respond to His invitation and draw closer to Him each day by lifting up our minds and hearts to Him in love, recognizing Who He is and contemplating all that He has said and done for the sake of our salvation. At the same time, as we come to know the Lord more intimately through our prayer, we are called to teach others, especially our children and young people, to pray so that they also will know the gift of God and be drawn more and more into the communion of His divine life and love.
As the Church throughout the United States, and especially here in the Diocese of Arlington, celebrates Catechetical Sunday, let us pray for all catechists and teachers - including parents, guardians, women and men living the consecrated life, deacons, and priests - that through their dedication and witness, they may inspire those whom they teach and serve to draw closer to the Lord in a loving dialogue of prayer so that all may abide in God and He in them.
Faithfully in the Heart of Christ,
Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of Arlington