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Introducing Nicholas Hardesty Column: Seize the Moment

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Your faith can come alive at any moment of your day.

“Daddy, why is the priest dressed like Jesus?” your son asks you during Mass.

You freeze. No one’s ever asked you that before.

What do you do? You can shush him, or you can teach him something about the Catholic faith. The same opportunity arises when you overhear a co-worker criticize what you believe; when you have a moment alone with a friend who is making bad decisions; when you’re watching TV with your daughter and you see a commercial that degrades women; or even when your spouse asks you, quite matter-of-factly, why he or she should care about God at all.

In all of those moments you have a decision to make: Do I say something, or do I remain silent? Do I seize the moment, or do I let it pass me by?

Seize the moment – that’s what this column will help you to do.

Too often Catholics say nothing in the face of questions and challenges. We have grown to believe that it is socially unacceptable to speak about and defend our faith in public. The funny thing is, the atheists, the Protestants, the talking heads on TV – none of these people miss an opportunity to tell us what they believe. So what are we afraid of? Even when we are willing to give an answer, we don’t always know what that answer is.

What if you were able to bring an authentically Catholic perspective to current events? What if you were able to answer the questions of your children, co-workers, and friends? What if you were able to separate truth from error in the messages that television, music, and movies are constantly feeding us? What if you were able to talk about your faith without feeling afraid? Wouldn’t that be something new!

I am offering you the opportunity to be a catechist, but let’s not call it that. The “c-word” is pretty scary for most people, and I can see why. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of a room full of people and formally teach them the Catholic faith. It takes boldness to be a catechist.

Perhaps this column will inspire you to take up that noble vocation. I hope you do. The church needs more dynamic and passionate catechists in our parishes and schools. But, you should also know that catechesis is not the exclusive occupation of “the professionals.” You don’t even need a Theology degree to do it. As St. Pope John Paul II reminded us, “Catechesis always has been and always will be a work for which the whole church must feel responsible.” We are all called to teach, to share what we believe with others.

Catechesis is also not restricted to the classroom. This work can take place anywhere: in line at the grocery store (the magazine rack alone is full of opportunities!), during your lunch break at work, as you listen to music with friends, or while on Facebook debating the news of the day. We become catechists any time we turn a question, challenge, or cultural interaction into an opportunity to communicate the teachings of the church.

Our lives are filled with these moments. Let’s seize them. Let’s be the bold Catholics we are called to be. Walk with me on this journey and together we can become honest-to-God moment-seizers. It sounds a little extreme, I know, but it’s the task set before us all and it’s not as hard as we often make it out to be.

Nicholas Hardesty develops new digital courses for Vocare, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s online catechist certification process. Contact him with new course ideas at nhardesty@catholiccincinnati.org.

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