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Catechesis in the Third Millennium

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relevant catechesis

My new blog replaces this blog.  Visit and register for new posts at

 http://relevantcatechesis.com 

Check it out and share it with others!!!


pointingOne of the latest issues in the sports world that has been spoken of non-stop in the last 24 hours is the domestic violence occurrence by Ray Rice to his now wife Janay Rice (when the event occurred they were not yet married).   Here is what she had to say about all the media reports:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret everyday is a horrible thing.

“To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his butt off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravens nation we love you!”

 

Taking her comments at face value her response should fill us with great sadness.  In a world that is intolerant to others being judged and condemned Ray Rice is being cast as less than human and worthless.  Yes, we should be outraged by his actions and the domestic violence going on in our communities.  It is good that the Media is speaking about the horror and evil of domestic violence.  However, at what point do we portray an individual unjustly?  Justice is “that which is owed to another”.  God has given each and every person human dignity.  Each of us are created in the image and likeness of God.  The Gospel Message is for sinners.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost (cf. Lk. 19:10).  We can and should judge actions but we owe each and every person the respect they deserve.  Repentance and forgiveness are both significant aspects of the Christian Message.  The Media thrives on the hype and drama of events like this one, but they are doing little good speaking about it in the manner they are.  Ironically the individuals in the Media can be the harshest at judging others.  Reminds me of what Jesus said: “You blind guides”.

Catechetical Take Awayprodigal son1

1. Judge actions and speak of how are decisions/actions can separate us from God and our neighbor.

2. Acknowledge the dignity of each and ever person – we are so much more than the actions we do.  Our value and worth goes far far deeper.

3. Forgiveness.  A person is a person no matter what right?  Ray Rice made a very serious error in judgement that has resulted in serious consequences.  But he has expressed sorrow and could be just as repentant as St. Mary Magdaline or St. Peter.  Pope Francis put in very well:

How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!

 

Let us pray for Ray Rice.  Let us pray for those who perform acts of domestic violence to change their ways.  Let us pray for a more merciful world where each and every person can come to know and respond to the Father who has great plans for us (cf. Jer. 29:11).


Next week I will be switching to a new domain/blog.  It’s called Catechesistoday.com .  Look for it next week.

 

Have a blessed weekend!  Let us pray for our brothers and sisters being persecuted and killed for their faith in the Middle East!

 

In Christ,

William O’Leary


Here are 5 ways to encourage parents to contribute to making their child’s Faith Formation most impactful:

parent working with child

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Parents are first – You are the first and primary educators of the faith to your children. How are you helping them, as Pope Francis says, “meet Jesus”?  How are they growing in “grace and wisdom” (Lk. 2:52) during the years you have them under your roof? Do your children see you taking time to pray & grow in your faith? The habits and attitudes you model are the most important ones in your child’s life and make the most impact. Your words & actions speak to what your kids see as most important to you.

 

  1. Attitude – Your attitude can make a world of difference to your child(ren). Weekly class attendance, family discussions about what was covered in class and general attitudes on going to Mass, praying together and involvement in the parish have an effect on your child.

 

  1. Faithfulness – God desires to reveal Himself to us because He loves each one of us so very much. Through weekly attendance in our School of Religion Program you are witnessing your faithfulness to the promise you made at your child’s baptism: to raise them in the faith and assist them in their spiritual growth. Your goal is to help your kids get to heaven – this is the most important thing you can do as parents.

 

  1. Prioritize – When your child sees (even when she/he doesn’t always like it) that you put weekly faith formation as a top priority they become aware by your example how important faith is to you as parents. Your actions and choices speak volumes!

 

  1. The power of praying parents – Pray daily for holiness in your family and for the spiritual needs of your parish community. Put your trust completely in God, our heavenly Father, who will hear you and do what is best for you.  After praying and seeking God’s intercession for a specific intention which was answered, St. Faustina said: “Now I can see how much power intercessory prayer has before God”(Diary 202).

What tips do you have?  Please share!


I recently gave a catechist retreat/In-Service to a group of catechists at a parish in the Archdiocese.  One of the things I shared with them is the importance of them bringing everything together.  It is not the textbook, the DVD, the music, the pictures or the great use of the powerpoint/smartboard you used that helped make your class a fruitful one.  Although helpful and very important in passing on the faith in a suitable manner to young people in the Third Millennium, nothing replaces the person of the catechist.  The catechist is the person who unites, organizes and links all the great tools available together in order that our Catholic Faith can be made known in the lives of their students.  Our Faith is full of life and has the potential to draw students into the life and mission of the Church.  It is the person of the catechist who is the linchpin, the crux, and central to helping students encounter Christ and the Gospel Message.

The National Directory of Catechesis says: “No number of attractive personal qualities, no amount of skill and training, and no level of scholarship of erudition can replace the power of God’s word communicated through a life lived in the Spirit (pg. 243).” A person who desires to grow in holiness and proclaim in word and deed a life rooted in Christ is irreplaceable in the ministry of Catechesis.

Come Holy Spirit lead us as catechists to radiate you through our teaching, and through our very being!  And students will be saying…Ahh see how they love Jesus…I want that too”.


ImageThe 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).   

Catechetical Takeaway 

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] [790]

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.  

 

 

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