Catechumens: My flaws as a catechist occur to me frequently. I wonder if I communicate clearly that I am flawed and know it, and pray only that all I say to you, whether in speaking or writing, is taken less with regard to my unworthy example, and more after the example of the One I am describing. It is Him I am also striving to reach, with your help, and if I say anything about Him, it is because I have met Him and know Him in however small a way, and desire that you would know Him too, and would likewise teach me how we may be examples to each other.
I call you ‘my catechumens’ out of affection and devotion, to keep myself in mind of my responsibility with fear, but there is only one Catechist, one Father, one Teacher, one Evangel. I dare, with dread of judgment, to teach you and speak to you of the glories of Christ, the richness of the fullness of the Church and pieties of the Saints: partly because I cannot contain myself – His mercies endure forever; partly because I see your hunger and your need – He is True Food; partly because, my beloved godchildren, I desire your fullness in the fullness of Christ – He Who fills the hearts of men as Heavens. I offer words because you are my true friends, for whom I will risk so much, and my godchildren, whose very breath I hold precious and so give you what I have to give. And in the end, I offer you my life, in the form of this vocation, that your prayers to Christ may stand for me at the Judgment as I have stood for you in prayers at your induction as catechumens, praying for you still. You are my hope of mercy and the reward of Heaven, if you save me by your prayers.
For my part, I have taught you nothing of use to your salvation if it is not to follow the example of our holy fathers, those who are with Christ in glory. If I have not led you to the example of humility and dispassion in Our Champion Leader, the all-blameless all-holy Ark of Our Salvation. If I have not directed your attention to the altar of the One Holy Church, where Christ is, the uncontainable God. And to the heavens where the angels gaze upon us and the Saints surround us with cheers, swift to aid, strong in prayer, fierce in battle, and ever directing our attentions to Christ the Life of all flesh. If I have not laid before you the infallible councils of the only Church, the concert witness of the venerable Fathers, the example of the mighty athletes in the desert. If I have not introduced you to Christ, ever humble for us, who desires you for his own, as precious ones, as friends, as little children. I have nothing in myself to teach, nor any original words of any great importance. I can only, as a flawed worker in the fields of my Master’s pasture lead you to the flawless Shepherd. He is our Life and prime example. Do take my hand, likewise, and lead me to Him, and don’t forget me when I falter.
Glory to God for His handmaiden, A***, my wife and your godmother in the Lord, who teaches me how to give thanks to the God who lives, and instructs me with all humility in childlike faith, governing my passions by the example of gentleness. Glory to God for my godson, A*** the catechumen of Christ, who restores my soul through sincerity and faith and fidelity, strengthens me through perseverance and teaches me humility. Glory for P***, goddaughter and child of my heart, catechumen of Christ and beloved daughter to lighten me with her brightness in Him, who teaches me to struggle for humility at great cost, instructs me in hope and lovingkindness, teaching her teacher well. Glory for the servant of God, M***, who informs my heart how love keeps the truth inviolate. Glory for J*** who first taught and led me and so has given me gifts for my beloved. Glory to God for M***, and by his prayers save D***, the unworthy. Remember in your prayers the child Charles with an affliction of the eyes since birth, and me if you should think of me.
– Catechetical Letter 1/18/2005