February 24, 2014
Is your catechesis evangelistic? What does that even mean? Well, it means a lot of things, but most importantly it means being a person to brings the light, joy, life and love of Jesus to others. The heart of our catechesis to children, youth and adults must be evangelistic or it is not authentically Catholic/Christian.
How do I shine Jesus in my catechesis? How do others encounter Jesus through my classes, presentations or by encountering me? These are questions worth thinking about. I found a compelling video clip by Fr. Robert Barron about Evangelization. It’s a little academic, but it’s really good. Take a couple minutes and check it out.
February 17, 2014
Almost no one disagrees that we need to help parents pass on the faith but the perennial question is “How” to do that and “How” to equip parents. Some might say that we need to drop our children’s catechesis programs and only have adult faith formation program, after all adult catechesis is the “chief form of catechesis”. Although this is true, it would seem that a more practical approach is to have both at the parish. So how do we not only keep parents “in the loop” on what we are doing in our programs but also help them pass on the faith to their children? I offer thee suggestions:
1) Pray, Pray, Pray for them to open their hearts. Parents often are so busy doing good things for their kids, but too often the “One thing necessary” gets less attention. Only the Holy Spirit can give parents the eyes and ears they need to see just how important their child’s faith formation is to their child’s development as a person.
2) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Make them aware of what their child is learning about and how they can be involved in the learning.
3) Empower, Empower, Empower. Find ways to educate the parents. Offer workshops, enrichment sessions, provide articles and resources for them to be able to grow in their knowledge and love for the faith.
What are you doing to “keep parents in the loop”? Please share ways you inform and involve parents in the faith formation of their children.
January 27, 2014
Recently I read the following quote that got me thinking:
“This is the only condition that Christ really places on us: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ And we know very well how much he has loved us! He died for us!” ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Let’s take a couple moments and consider what we might provide in our catechesis that helps others more fully embrace this condition (and others) by Jesus.
1. Do those you catechize know how Jesus Christ, God incarnate, who’s love is unconditional, does have conditions for His followers? For example Christ calls us to “Take up our Cross and follow Him” (Mt. 16:24), Christ calls us in no uncertain terms to Love God with our whole heart mind and soul (Mt. 22:37), to love as he has loved us (Jn. 13:34) and even the call be humble (Mt. 19:24). These “conditions” are calling us to respond to the message, the Good News and grace given as pure gift to His children (i.e., us).
2. Catechesis is meant to both echo the life saving message of grace, love, mercy and joy as well as call one to profess, to live a life that conveys one who has been changed, renewed, reborn into this abundant life promised by Christ.
“Conditions” can have a positive reality to them and I believe Christ shows us this truth.
What are your thoughts?
January 20, 2014
The French proverb “The more things change the more they stay the same” seems to be very appropriate for the hugely popular show on PBS of the post-Edwardian era in England. Something that struck me about a recent episode is that the quest for ones happiness can often lead one away from the very thing they are searching for. Lady Edith Crawley allows herself to be sweaped up into a romance with a Michael Gregson who’s wife is considered insane, but British law will not allow him to divorce (presuming he has every right to do so). He’s going to great lengths to prove his love to Lady Edith by becoming a German citizen so he can divorce his wife and marry her. This example is just one among so many others of how we can distort truth. The world back then and now too often sees fidelity in marriage to be good so long as your wife is not, as in the case of Mr. Gregson, insane (or a number of others reasons).
3 catechetical points that are vital to catechesis in the Third Millennium:
1. Proclaiming the truth (whether on the issue of marriage or another aspect of life) is essential to the freedom of God’s children. Sometimes the truth is seen as judgmental because it challenges ones freedom and what is often socially acceptable (although not morally acceptable).
2. Keep in mind that catechesis on “Life in Christ” is not merely “morality” but about life with God. The Catechism paragraph 1691 says:
“Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” [St. Leo the Great Sermo 22 in nat. Dom., 3: PL 54, 192C] 
3. Let your message be clear. Catechism paragraph 1697 goes onto say that “Catechesis has to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ”. The demands of being a doctor, a professional sports player or a renowned scientist are quite high and so also are the demands of the Christian life (which so often we can resist because it is perceived that a loving God should help make our lives good and happy). The Christian life, although having its challenges, is filled with abundant joy, peace beyond understanding, transforming grace and total charity which brings authentic freedom and true happiness.
The life we’ve been given is a true gift even with all it’s demands. May our eyes and heart always look to Christ for the ultimate answers that allow us to respond according to the truth of the Gospel and all that entails.
January 14, 2014
The New Evangelization is one of the key focuses of the Church in the Third Millennium. It is an exciting time to be a part of the Church and see all the great works of the Lord that are happening, especially with the emphasis on the New Evangelization and all that it entails. When you hear the word “old” it gets little attention, but in reality I wonder if the core of the New Evangelization is old. The Apostles and their successors in the first few centuries after Christ were evangelizers “par excellence”! St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Thomas, St. Andrew, St. John and all the apostles set the world ablaze by proclaiming and making manifest the Good News of Jesus Christ. Their successors – people like St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius of Antioch witnessed to the life, death and resurrection of Christ with their very lives. People saw with their very eyes the conviction they had admits the threat of death. This proclamation that was not mere lip service but also lived out even at the cost of their own lives was key to the evangelization of the people of their day.
Today, the New Evangelization must rely on that “Old Evangelization” in order to draw hearts to Christ. As you may know, St. Francis never said: “Preach the Gospel always use words is necessary”. But he did testify not only with his life but with the constant proclamation of the Good News to Christ to every town and place he went (and even to the birds).
2 Things to share with students about evangelization:
1) They are called by their Baptism to share the Good News of Jesus Christ; to tell others about who God is and what His plan for us is. Kids evangelize most successfully often times and we need to give them the tools to do this.
2) Help children see that ones actions speak something about what she/he believes. Do you choose the sports game over Mass, do you say no to watching TV because you have not prayed; do you avoid talking negatively about others because that is not loving your neighbor, etc.
What are ways you help your students to evangelize?
January 7, 2014
Posted by William under Catechists
| Tags: Catechists
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This time of year marks the half-way point (more or less) of the year in religious education. I want to share a few things that DRE’s and especially catechists might consider half-way through the year.
1) Do you believe the way you’ve catechized has helped your students actually grow in their relationship with Christ? Consider why you would say yes or no.
2) How have you helped your students experience being a community? Is your class more bonded and interactive now than they were during the first month?
3) Do you believe your students know more about their faith? Is there anything you’ve done so far to measure (as imperfect as it is) what they know or don’t know?
4) How are your students sharing their faith with others outside the classroom? Are you finding that they are applying what they are learning and experiences in the class to what they do outside the class?
5) What have you done as a catechist to grow in your faith this year as you seek to pass it onto the students you catechize?
January 6, 2014
Posted by William under Uncategorized
| Tags: conversion
Our Religious Education classes are like the current NFL playoffs. Win or go home. This is an approach we need to take regarding the souls we proclaim the Gospel to each week. Our goal should always be to “win” them for Christ. This means drawing adults and children deeper into their love for Christ and His Church. We should always set out to lead and inspire hearts deeper into the mystery of Christ. How are your playoffs going at your parish?