Catholic catechesis is lousy because it’s based on the widely adopted liberal educational “model”

Sermon-Mount-Jesus-Christ

Other denominations, I’ve observed, do a better job of offering meaningful adult faith formation, and it’s well attended. Yes, there is Sunday school for children, but that’s not considered the central formational focus of the community. There are logistical differences beyond the confessional ones here, of course. Episcopalians and Lutherans and Presbyterians rarely offer 6 back-to-back services on a Sunday morning, and don’t have the same need for childhood sacramental preparation as Catholics do. Many Protestant churches schedule formation opportunities for all ages on Wednesday evenings.

That’s part of the reason the adult formation classes and workshops we do offer are so poorly attended—adult catechesis just not a part of our regular expectation and structure. And adding it to an already overscheduled parish calendar doesn’t seem to be much of a solution.

So here’s my totally immodest proposal, audaciously presented on the virtual eve of the grand ComicCon of Catholic religious education, L.A.’s RECongress: Snap out of it. Let’s just stop catechizing children.

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What to do when your parish priest comes down with Kerygma

BishopSheen

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
was know to be a frequent “sufferer” 

The Sunday homily as an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word, can only be renewed and energized by the Holy Spirit.

Kerygma or the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery should lead to metanoia 5, a progressive (or radical) conversion of the heart to the Gospel. But, it is the Holy Spirit who is the great “Converter” waiting to be “stirred up” or “fanned into flame” 6 in the hearts of the faithful, through the preaching of Christ crucified.

As Pope Paul VI said in his very powerful apostolic exhortation “On Evangelisation”: “…the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization. It is he who inspires each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is he who causes the word of salvation to be understood and accepted.

It was not by chance that the inauguration of evangelization took place on the morning of Pentecost under the inspiration of the Spirit”. 7 It is noteworthy that the greatest aspect of the renewal of the Eucharistic Liturgy that Vatican II has brought is the introduction of the epiclesis, 8 right before the words of consecration of the bread and wine.

That is why preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit is essential. Hopefully, this kerygmatic preaching will elicit conversion which in turn awakens the desire in the believer for a deeper knowledge and understanding of the faith, which is catechesis.

However, what is sorely needed in our parishes, before faith formation or catechesis, which is, in itself, very important, is boldness in the kerygma, the proclamation of Christ crucified and risen.

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The (free on-line) Archbishop Sheen Audio Library

Common sense Catholic family education

“Religious education” can sound intimidating and far worse is “catechesis.” Neither term came to mind as I washed some dishes in the sink and my 6-year-old grandson wandered into the kitchen. He’s used to the fact I tend to whistle, hum or sing absentmindedly, unaware I’m making any noise at all.

“I know that song!” he said, interrupting me mid-whistle. “We have it at church.”

Hmmm . . .  I wasn’t aware of what I was whistling. Since I presumed his parish Mass didn’t feature anything by Creedence Clearwater Revival or show tunes, then it was . . . Of course. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

My grandson was pleased he recognized the melody. I was happy he was going someplace where it was sung – religiously.

That’s part of the ABCs, too. We leave Mass, we’re sent, but we take something with us. And we share it. That Advent song — whistled in a kitchen — led easily to a short conversation about Mass, Advent and . . . naturally . . . Christmas.

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More Lenten Catechism from Andy P/Doria2

Just more proof that Jesus Christ came to establish His Church. One Church. He calls it the body and He makes it authoritative. I use Bible verses because when you are questioned by non Catholics they will want to know chapter and verse of anything you say. Well we have that information. In the Bible that the Church designed and put together through the power of the Holy Spirit. Do not be afraid to offer these quotes when asked. Send them on and teach them to family and friends. Teach them especially to your children and grandchildren.

The Church is the body of Christ

Col 1:18* He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.

1 Cor 6:15 – Don’t you know your bodies are members of Christ?

1 Cor 12:20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27* Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Eph 5:30 – we are members of His body.

Rom 12:4* For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 5* so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Authoritative Church

Mt 28:18* And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19* Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20* teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Jn 20:21* power to forgive sin – Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22* And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23* If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Lk 10:16* power to speak with Christ’s voice – “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Mt 18:17 – power to discipline 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Mt 18:18 – power to legislate – 18* Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Infallible Church

Jn 16:13 – guided by Holy Spirit into all truth – 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14* He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Jn 14:26 – Holy Spirit to teach & remind them of everything – 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Lk 10:16 – speak with Christ’s own voice – 16* “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

1Tim 3:15 – Church called “pillar and foundation of truth” – 15 if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

1Jn 2:26-27 – anointing of Holy Spirit remains in you – 26 I write this to you about those who would deceive you; 27* but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Acts 15:28 – Apostles speak with voice of Holy Spirit – 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:

Mt 28:20 – I am with you – 18* And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19* Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20* teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

For more visit Bob Stanley’s: The Catholic Treasure Chest

Marquette Bishop: “I was more prayerful than many of my peers. That opened me up to the action of the Holy Spirit.”

…Although a young bishop, Bishop Sample has been outspoken in his defense of Church teaching. In 2009, for example, he asked Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, not to speak in the Marquette diocese because of his dissenting views on such issues as homosexuality and the ordination of women. He also condemned the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Barack Obama, calling the move “unconscionable” and “completely out of step with the Catholic Church’s teaching.”

…My generation was the first in the wake of Vatican II. While I certainly don’t blame the Council, much upheaval occurred in the Church in its aftermath. Culturally, society was experiencing the sexual revolution, the women’s liberation movement, and the anti-war movement, among others. There was an anti-authoritarian spirit.

In this time of great confusion, catechesis suffered. We booted the Baltimore Catechism out the door, but there wasn’t anything to replace it. I was taught the faith in Catholic schools using materials that were weak and insubstantial. I wasn’t being taught my faith. The liturgy suffered from experimentation as well.

…We need a renewal in catechesis. I feel passionately about this. In my Diocese of Marquette, I directed the development of a diocesan curriculum for faith formation for grades K-8. It is a solid, substantive, systematic, and sequential curriculum, which builds from one year to the next. It is topical, based on the pillars of the catechism. Every parish is expected to follow this curriculum.

Now I’m turning my attention toward adult faith formation. If we can get catechesis and the liturgy right, we’ll be well on our way to the renewal and growth of the Church for which we hope.

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Editor’s note: Isolated in the wilderness that still constitutes much of the upper peninsula of Michigan, Bishop Sample might just succeed. Let’s all pray that he does!

Teaching adolescents to understand and observe the 6th commandment (regarding, chastity, pornography, fornication, etc.)


by Ed Smetana, a Catholic Catechist, for over 15 years

Having taught CCD for for 15 years, I found that the best way to teach the fundamentals of understanding and observing the 6th Commandment is to let the Catechism of the Catholic Church do it for you.

Just hand the students copies of the Catechism, paragraphs #2346 to #2386. Have them read it to themselves. Then, collect the copies. No verbal explanation is typically necessary. If a student has a question, direct him/her to ask their priest. I never had any questions. Neither has father, as far as I know.

The Catechism does a concise job of outlining various sexual terms that today’s young people will probably never otherwise have explained to them, except perhaps in the locker room, from their friends, or on-line (from stranger-danger).

Reading this material is necessary to help counteract the rampant perversion of sex education in the school’s health classes and textbooks, where masturbation, along with many other types of illicit sexual behavior, is often referred to as “normal” and/or “healthy”.

What led me to see the need for this type of Catechetical guidance, generally beginning with 7th graders, was when I was informed that, in the “truth or dare” games that today’s young people ‘play’, every time you lose, you are required to do something that is sexually sinful.

When a girl observed that doing such a thing was wrong, she was told, “If it’s wrong, the teachers would not have encouraged it, and the pastors and CCD teachers would have said it was a sin. Therefore, how could it be a sin?”

Catechists should help young people form their consciences by reading appropriate portions of the Catechism with them, in class. How else are they to know? Not from their parents, because they were never taught or encouraged to read the Catechism.

I believe that on ‘Judgment Day’ good catechism teachers will be recognized, along with the rest of the sheep, and thanked by their students and their parents.

Link to the relevant section of the Catechism

Editor’s note: “CCD” means “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine” which is the name of the association that used to be responsible for providing religious education in the Catholic Church. Like many other useful things of old, the association is basically out of business, and the term “CCD” is no longer in widespread use.

Many CCD teachers resort to arts and crafts because of a genuine fear and ignorance in teaching the Catholic faith to students.

St. Augustine-the Father of Catechetics describes catechizing the ignorant in this way:

The best method for instructing ignorant men in Christian doctrine, one that will bear much fruit is to ask questions in a friendly fashion after the explanation; from this questioning one can learn whether each one understood what he heard or whether the explanation needs repeating.

In order that the learner grasp the matter, we must ascertain by questioning whether the one being catechized has understood, and in accordance with his response, we must either explain more clearly and fully or not dwell further on what is known to them etc.

But if a man is very slow, he must be mercifully helped and the most necessary doctrines especially should be briefly imparted to him.

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Editor’s note: St. Augustine figured this out way back around the 4th century. What a shame the Catholic Church threw out all the old, thoroughly proven ways when, for reasons known only to God, it decided to liberalize the church.