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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Newly ordained priest tells it like it is. Let’s hope he doesn’t get in trouble for it!

Noting that seven of the 10 priests ordained that day were born outside the U.S., Owen blamed the dearth of home-grown priests partly on our affluent society.

“We don’t need God anymore,” he lamented. “Because we have money and material possessions, we can get along fine — that is until someone has a serious tragedy and then it’s ‘God help me!'” By contrast, he pointed out, there are 1,400 students enrolled in the Catholic seminary in Kenya.

He put the responsibility for the lack of U.S. vocations squarely on the shoulders of many older priests.

“I blame the priests here in Chicago and in the U.S.,” he said. “They’re not attractive. They are not leading a lifestyle that is authentic. Why would anyone want to give their life to that?”

Because it was instituted by Christ himself, he believes the Roman Catholic Church is doesn’t need to change. He argued that some want to make the church more like American society, i.e. to make it more democratic, but the Church exists to transform society, not the other way around.

“That’s part of the problem,” he contends. “We want to be part of the culture. Yes, we can take some elements from the culture, but that’s not the way Christ set it up. The church is not a democracy.”

Because the Catholic Church is a divine creation he believes he can maintain very firm boundaries without a hint of judgmentalism. When asked if he would give communion to a gay man living openly in a committed relationship, his answer was no. Would he allow a Lutheran pastor to preach the homily in a “mixed marriage” wedding in his church? No. Would he give communion to a Protestant at Mass? No again. Nothing personal, that’s just the way it is.

Read more

Holy Week: Easter Sunday

97. Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity. It is appropriate that the penitential rite on this day take the form of a sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon Vidi aquam, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung. The fonts at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water.

98. The tradition of celebrating baptismal Vespers on Easter Day with the singing of psalms during the procession to the font should be maintained where it is still in force, and appropriately, restored.103

99. The paschal candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass, or at Morning and Evening Prayer. After the Easter season the candle should be kept with honor in the baptistry, so that in the celebration of Baptism the candles of the baptized may be lit from them. In the celebration of funerals, the paschal candle should be placed near the coffin to indicate that the death of a Christian is his own passover. The paschal candle should not otherwise be lit nor placed in the sanctuary outside the Easter season.104

100. The Celebration of Easter is prolonged throughout the Easter season. The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated as one feast day, the “great Sunday.”105

101. The Sundays of this season are regarded as Sundays of Easter, and so termed, and they have precedence over all feasts of the Lord and over all solemnities. Solemnities that fall on one of these Sundays are anticipated on the Saturday.106 Celebrations in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints which fall during the week may not be transferred to one of these Sundays.107

102. For adults who have received Christian initiation during the Easter Vigil, the whole of this period is given over to mystagogical catechesis. Therefore wherever there are neophytes the prescriptions of the “Ordo initiationis Christianae adultorum,” nn. 37-40 and 235-239, should be observed. Intercession should be made in the Eucharistic Prayer for the newly baptized throughout the Easter octave in all places.

103. Throughout the Easter season the neophytes should be assigned their own special place among the faithful. All neophytes should endeavor to participate at Mass along with their godparents. In the homily, and according to local circumstances, in the General Intercessions mention should be made of them. Some celebration should be held to conclude the period of mystagogical catechesis on or about Pentecost Sunday depending upon local custom.108 It is also appropriate that children receive their first Communion on one of the Sundays of Easter.

104. During Easter time, the pastor should instruct the faithful who have been already initiated into the Eucharist on the meaning of the Church’s precept concerning the reception of Holy Communion during this period.109 It is highly recommended that Communion be brought to the sick also, especially during the Easter octave.

Link

The Chrism Mass: Three Types of Holy Oils, Three Specific Prayers of consecration.

35. The Chrism Mass which the bishop concelebrates with his presbyterium and at which the holy chrism is consecrated and the oils blessed, manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ.38

The priests who concelebrate with the bishop should come to this Mass from different parts of the diocese, thus showing in the consecration of the chrism to be his witnesses and cooperators, just as in their daily ministry they are his helpers and counselors. The faithful are also to be encouraged to participate in this Mass, and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Traditionally the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the Thursday of Holy Week. If, however, it should prove to be difficult for the clergy and people to gather with the bishop, this rite can be transferred to another day, but one always close to Easter.39 The chrism and the oil of catechumens is to be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation on Easter night.

36. There should be only one celebration of the Chrism Mass given its significance in the life of the diocese, and it should take place in the cathedral or, for pastoral reasons, in another church40 which has a special significance.

The holy oils can be brought to the individual parishes before the celebration of the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper or at some other suitable time. This can be a means of catechizing the faithful about the use and effects of the holy oils and chrism in Christian life.

Link

About the holy oils:

There are three kinds of sacred oils, all of which signify the work of the Holy Spirit and symbolize it in that oil “serves to sweeten, to strengthen, to render supple” (Catholic Encyclopedia). The three holy oils are:

  • The Oil of Catechumens (“Oleum Catechumenorum” or “Oleum Sanctum”) used in Baptism along with water, in the consecration of churches, in the blessing of Altars, in the ordination of priests (Editor’s note: This was pre-Vatican II. Now, chrism is used in priestly ordinations.) and, sometimes, in the crowning of Catholic kings and queens.
  • The Holy Chrism (“Sanctum Chrisma”) or “Oil of Gladness,” which is olive oil mixed with a small amount of balm or balsam. It is used in Confirmation, Baptism, in the consecration of a Bishop, the consecration of a various things such as churches, chalices, patens, and bells.
  • The Oil of the Sick (“Oleum Infirmorum”), which is used in Unction

Read more

An Open Letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, of New York

I tried posting this on Bishop Dolan’s blog but it was censored.

I seek anyone who knows anyone who can possibly get this to His Excellency as I believe those around him censor his mail. I just have the need to know that he saw this. Can anyone help? Maybe if people I know print it out and mail it to him at 1011 First Ave, NY, NY 10022 it might get to him – thanx – Andy

September 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Quote from Catholic New York – “Father Mark Vaillancourt told me of the school’s soaring SAT scores, and that every graduating senior last year went on to college, with the class earning over $12,000,000 in scholarships.”

Your Excellency Bishop Dolan,

I took this quote for a reason as it reminds me of the anger I have at the NY Archdiocesan educational establishment Your Excellency.

My question is, besides these glowing statistics, how many of these students are still Catholic? How many will continue to remain Catholics?

My anger stems from the fact that I have raised three children and along with most of their friends who attended our Catholic schools from grade one through high school and on to college and they graduated as young Catholic eunuchs knowing very little about their faith, believing even less.

My anger is also directed at myself for not seeing what was happening. I mistakenly thought that our schools would teach my children their faith. I was wrong.

I started studying my faith daily close to 30 years ago. No I do not have any degrees, master or otherwise. No Phd’s, no doctorates, just self study. immersion in reading everything Catholic I can find, apologetics (which is sorely lacking in Catholic eduction), The Catechism, the Bible, and most importantly the early Church fathers.

IMO , it’s the \experts\ or too many of them that are killing this Church in the West. They have modernized our Bibles, taught our children Catholicism \light\ and we are paying the price for this lack of good solid orthodox Catholic thought as the original Fathers taught. In the 1950′s over 75% of Catholics attended weekly Mass, now it’s down to less than 25%. Even less confess their sins at all anymore. Of course our culture has changed but the Church was to be unchanging and it changed too.

Surveys show that very few of us believe in the actual Presence of Our Lord in our most holy Eucharist. My daughter once said to me \I knew Communion was special, but nobody ever stressed how important, how awesome, how holy it is until you (speaking to me) stressed it.\ I have a copy of an exam my daughter took at our local IONA College which refers to God as Him/Her. This is outrageous.

I expect our youth to question things. I expect some rebellion, but when the inevitable questions arise we MUST have answers for them and our beautiful Catholic faith supplies these answers through our rich history, our Catechism, and our Bible.

Instead, what we in NY give them is CRITICISM. Literary criticism, form criticism, historical criticism, etc. etc. etc.

They are surrounded with Markan priority, fantasy world Q source theories, and the mythologizing of all Bible study. I have taken these courses I have seen it first hand.

I took what was once called the Denver Bible Study Program in my old parish in Yonkers , NY . I was shocked at what Catholics were being taught. No wonder Protestant Fundamentalist communities are bursting at the seams with former Catholics.

I wrote to Archbishop Chaput in Denver and one of his assistants wrote back and told me that His Excellency unceremoniously dumped this heterodoxy and redid his whole educational establishment.

Now, who gets stuck with this program. That’s right we, in NY are stuck with it. Only now it’s called the NY Catholic Bible Study. I have written to Cardinal Egan, and a few times to you, Your Excelency – Nothing – No response from anyone. Meanwhile, our young adults are leaving in droves, we are closing parishes, we are closing schools. all this while we are experiencing the largest increase in new Catholic immigrants ever from Central and South America . I read where Latinos are now leaving us too. Deja Vu all over again.

I pray, no I beg you to look into these things I have written above. Don’t believe me, see for yourself. You, as Shepherd of one of the largest Archdiocese’s in the world can affect the whole country by what you do. I pray for your courage to do the right thing.

May we, as an Archdiocese one day say that we have lost our last Catholic to groups who target unsuspecting Catholics because they know we are easy prey.

Andrew Piacente aka Doria2 – Yonkers , NY

HOSEA 4:6

Vatican/USCCB ramp up efforts to launch new Roman Missal

WASHINGTON — After a decade of work, the greatest liturgical milestone for American Catholics since the 1970s is right around the corner: The Vatican has approved a new English translation of the Roman Missal, and the U.S. bishops have fixed the roll-out date in the nation’s parishes for the beginning of Advent 2011.

“The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America,” stated Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in his Aug. 20 letter to the nation’s bishops.

Read more



The New Catholic Manliness

behold_man

Theological curiosity and rigor are not solely male qualities. The mind and the heart, dogma and experience, definition and mystery, truth and love — both men and women need to receive the Faith from all angles and engage it with all their faculties. But we return to natural gender differences again, to what Bollman calls “percentages and proportions” favoring this or that trait: Not only do they want to be spiritual “providers and protectors,” but men will, on average, be drawn more strongly to a religion that provides purchase for their intellects to grasp, distinguish, and, finally, submit to.

Read the article

What constitutes genuine and authentic Catechesis?

sermoncrop

Q: What is Catechesis?

A: ‘Catechesis’ derives from a Greek word meaning “to echo.” Those who undertake this work are called to echo the Truth revealed by Jesus Christ and entrusted to the Apostles and their successors, the bishops. It is important to distinguish this from “theology,” which is the study of God based on His revelation to us.

Within the parameters of established Church teaching, there is a time and place to speculate upon theological questions. But, the role of the catechist is to constantly endeavor to transmit (i.e. “echo”) the teaching of the Church by internalizing it through contemplation and prayer, exemplifying it in their behavior and associations, and enthusiastically teaching it in its fullness and splendor. Since those who present themselves to the Church have a right to this authentic teaching, it is the obligation of all catechists (bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay people) to provide it.

(Excerpt from Catholic Diocese of Madison, WI document. Click to view.)