catechesis



notsofast

 

 

I thought I was going to be able to launch a new blog domain but have encountered some difficulties.  I will still post here for a little while and I’ll update you on my progress.

                                                           ~ William 

 

“The primary and essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St. Paul and also to contemporary theology, “the mystery of Christ.” Catechizing is in a way to lead a person to study this mystery in all its dimensions: “to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery…comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth …know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…(and be filled) with all the fullness of God.”

~ St. John Paul II: Catechesis in Our Time


icon of Christ

“And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching, the communal Life, the breaking of the bread and prayers.” ~ Acts 2:42

 

In the beginning, I presumed as a DRE that the best way for catechists to cover lessons over the course of a year was to have them go in chapter order. The publishers must know and have a reason for the order the chapters are in right?  Over the years I’ve rethought this idea and discerned a few things I’d like to share about chapters and what is important to cover during the year.

1. It is important that catechists know what is to be covered each week.  A “whatever the Holy Spirit leads me to talk about” is not what is best, although occurring occasionally.  It is important as a DRE to set out what your grade level catechists will be cover over the course of the year.

Dr. believes more is better

2. I have to get through all the chapters in the book right?  More is not better.  Our aim as catechists is to lead our students into a greater understanding of the deposit of faith that has been given to us and through a greater understanding of what we believe students are brought into a deeper union, a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.  We should strive to help students encounter Christ, to actually meet Jesus.  We know that this does not merely happen by getting all the “information” taught.  There needs to be a “dynamism” that both proclaims the truths of the Gospel Message as well as fostering this encounter with Jesus Christ.

3. The Acts 2:42 quote communicates the 4 dimensions of our Faith – the Faith Professed, Celebrated, Lived and Prayed.  These four dimensions should not only be covered individually but more importantly they need to be an integrated whole and seen as unifying the Faith to be in harmony and not just merely a bunch of individual truths.  I wrote a brief blog post on this a little while back entitled Teaching the 4 Dimensions of the Christian Life.  Our Lessons should reflect this reality even when the textbook doesn’t always provide this unity.

4. Classroom Lessons should be uniform.  If you have two classes of say 2nd grade it’s important that essentially the same thing is covered and not something drastically different (this week class A talked about the parts of the Mass and class B watched the Br. Francis “Bread of Life” DVD).  Both of these are all well and good, however it’s important that a program is able to assign lessons the program will focus on during the course of each year.  This does not mean that catechist A has to do the exact same thing as catechist B, however it does mean that they should both meet the same set of objectives or outcomes for that particular lesson.

 

In Summary, DRE’s will benefit greatly in establishing specific weekly lessons for each grade so parents and catechists know what is expected of them to cover.  This helps students both know more about the life of Christ and His Church and most importantly foster a desire in each student to meet Jesus and encounter Him (with all that that entails).

 

Holy Spirit Come

 

 


sacred heartToday in our catechesis there is a great need to renew our devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  St. Thomas Aquinas defines devotion as a willingness “to give oneself readily to what concerns the service of God” (Summa, II-II, q. 82 a. 1).  As you’ve probably read many many times that our goal, our mission, our aim in catechesis is to “put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ” (GDC 80).  What better way to do this than fostering a devotion to the Sacred Heart.  Pope Pius XII said:

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by its very nature is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our love by which we are related to God and to other men.

Fr. Timothy O’Donnel, who wrote a book on the Sacred Heart, The Heart of the Redeemer said the following:

From this definition it can be seen that authentic devotion to the Sacred Heart is not merely an optional set of pious practices (which may be very helpful) but an essential element of the Christian way of life. All Christians are called to the comprehension of certain truths concerning God and to a response in love to them. In living a life in imitation of Christ, as found in the Gospels and taught by the Church, the Christian should use all the spiritual aids offered to him by God. He should fill his life with an ever growing and deepening love for God and his fellow man. Every Christian will build his own unique spirituality upon this common foundation, which should include a response to the Heart of Christ that gives honor to the divine love and is offered for the sake of that love.

 

How Can we renew this Devotion in our Catechesis?

1) Expose students to images of the Sacred Heart and reference it so they can make the connection between Christ’s heart and our hearts which are called to respond to His love and grace.  Fr. James Kubicki, in his book Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus said that this devotion is the devotion of devotions because, “devotion to the Heart of Jesus is a response to God’s devotion to us.”  Therefore, providing art that reveals this helps students and adults alike draw closer to Christ.

 

2) Always help students keep in mind that God has loved us first and his heart burns for us.  Pope John Paul II said “It is invaluable to converse with Christ and, leaning against Jesus’ breast like his beloved disciple, we can feel the infinite love of his Heart.”  Taking the time in our catechesis to do this is important.  Yes, it will require some silence, yes it will require us to maybe do things differently when we help kids enter into prayer, but it is infinitely valuable and worth it.

 

3) A few concrete ways to engage your students: Sacred Heart3

 

I close with words from the Catechism about the significant of the Sacred Heart image:

Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: “The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me.”116 He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation,117 “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception.118

 

 

 

 


discipleship

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?