I suspect that some Christians, perhaps with a skewed sense of sin, associate sin with the basic nature of humanity. Jesus was indeed fully human. That does not mean that he sinned, as we believe all but two human beings have done.
I think it no coincidence that the Church calls for adult catechesis in this and other documents. Repeatedly in Church teaching coming from the popes, the curia, and the Second Vatican Council, adults are underscored as the proper first priority. Adults parent children. Adults live lives in the world. We Catholic adults are responsible for continuing Christ’s mission of spreading the faith. Clearly, a focus on children and youth, largely a professional focus delegated from clergy and parents to catechists and school teachers, is not giving us the results we think proper.
It’s perhaps easy for me to say that catechesis in the Church, both before and after Vatican II, has been gravely deficient. It is certainly easy for Catholic bloggers to lament. But with respect to Deacon Greg, his colleagues at Patheos, and many of my friends in the Catholic blogosphere, I have to wonder what the heck they are doing to promote learning. Looking at the main page of the Catholic Channel at Patheos, I note a Bible study on Mark’s Gospel from Julie Davis and I know Lisa Mladinich’s column Be an Amazing Catechist. Otherwise, many items on spirituality, politics, news commentary, a spot of psychology and history.
Aside from being a parish liturgist and church musician, I do feel committed to faith formation in the Church. It is a commitment I offer my parish (serving this past year as the staff liaison for the Faith Formation Commission), and the Church at large (as a workshop presenter for decades). Many years ago, I made a conscious (more or less) choice to devote a substantial share of the information posted here to church teaching on the liturgy. One son of Vatican II does not redeem the whole blogosphere, or progressive Catholicism, or even the state of catechetical affairs. But I do think it illustrative that the bulk of commentary online blames others, and perpetuates the abdication of direct responsibility in our homes, our workplaces, and yes, even in the blogosphere.
Alas, blame is easier and more enjoyable. And given the comparison of commentary on my document posts with things of a newsy or political nature, I’d say some degree of catechetical avoidance is to be found here, too.
What do you suppose the answer is? Should Catholic bloggers, especially conservative ones, the ones who know Jesus was without sin, be paying more attention to Church teaching? Maybe so.
Of the three Revelation passages given for funerals, this is the one chosen most often:
I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.” The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victors will inherit these gifts, and I shall be their God, and they will be my own.
Not only will God will God do away with tears, pain, and death, but also that oldest adversary, chaos (cf. Rev 21:2; the sea). The end of tears is a longtime promise of God (Isaiah 25:8ff, and so many other passages).
This is a message of optimism–for the believers who first heard this in the late first century, as well as for mourners today. At its root, this is a message of grace. Those who have been judged as faithful will be comforted, satisfied, and will inherit the grace of eternal life as adopted sisters and brothers of Christ. It’s a good and true message, knowing that mourners and deceased will be reunited in a restored creation. An easy message to preach, in a time of extreme difficulty and grief especially.
During my college and grad school days, I attended one or two lectures by the Merton scholar. He wasn’t on the faculty of either of my schools, but he was certainly known by Catholics in and around the Rochester area. His bishop:
His intellectual gifts, lively spiritual life and generous spirit touched countless people, myself included. (Msgr. Shannon was) an extraordinary priest of our diocese.
I didn’t know the man personally, but I can commend his book Seeds of Peace: Contemplation and Nonviolence, a mid-90′s publication from Crossroad Publishing. The threads of Merton (or perhaps I should say the seeds), of the contemplative life, and of pacifism draw together in a profound way.
22. When the readings are finished the homily is given, in which the biblical readings are elucidated and the significance of the rite explained: Christ is the cornerstone of the Church, and the temple that is going to be built by the living Church of the community of believers will be at once the house of God and the house of God’s people.
Given recent news on the closing and re-opening of churches, note how the rite describes the structure. Granted, the bishop is certainly numbered among “the living Church,” but the emphasis here is clearly on the local community. Bishops preside. They do so with the symbols of the shepherd. The implication is that they serve with responsibilities more than they rule with personal rights.
A nod to local custom:
23. After the homily, according to the custom of the place, the document of the blessing of the foundation stone and of the beginning of the building of the church may be read; it is signed by the bishop and by representatives of those who are going to work on the building of the church, and together with the stone, is enclosed in the foundation.
Those who work on the building: the most obvious would be the team of architect, head contractor, and workers. That is a European tradition, I believe. In my experience, this also includes the pastor and building committee, or at least its leadership. What would you include?
Seasonal music is doing quite well in the head-to-head polling of this liturgical music madness. NPM’s number one song, “On Eagles’ Wings” got bounced by an Easter song we often sing only once a year. Let’s see how the most popular English-language Christmas song fares against a “gathering song.”
“Silent Night” had one of the more interesting polling experiences of the first round, making it to the “Theological Thirty-Two” by one vote. Admit it: it’s a good tune. According to legend, it was written on guitar in Germany–well over a century before guitars invaded churches in number. My ensemble in Kansas City liked to sing it in German. Many people like the Dan Kantor partner song, “Night of Silence.” Here is a recording from Chris Squire (best known as the bassist for the supergroup Yes).
I spoke with Marty Haugen many years ago at a workshop, discussing the composition of church music for singing congregations. He spoke of it being a craft, as I recall. Without being exclusive of the artistic aspect of music, I think he was getting at the notion of fashioning music to permit a worshiping assembly to easily enter the singing. Predictability, support, and perhaps something that would be less “fun” for the musicians involved. Did I mention a tune that suits well for various accompaniments, including pipe organ, like here by a young musician.
In yesterday’s post, we looked at catechist formation in the parish: what the clergy can do, how catechists might work together, the value of retreats and special events, etc. Today we look at “schools” that will likely be organized for a region, diocese, or some subdivision thereof.
248. Attendance at a school for catechists (Cf. concerning schools for catechists in the missions: Ad Gentes 17c; Redemptoris Missio 73; Canon Law 785 and Guide for Catechists, 30. For the Church in general see: General Catechetical Directory 109) is a particularly important moment in the formation of a catechist. In many places such schools are organized on two levels: one for catechists who are “ordinary”; (The expression ‘ordinary catechist’ is used in General Catechetical Directory 112c) the other for those who have “responsibility for catechesis”.
These two levels? Actual catechists would be “ordinary.” The responsible ones would be faith formation directors, and people in similar positions in parishes.
Schools for ordinary catechists have advantages. My sense is that in the US, these “schools” are less established places and more the occasional workshop provided by a parish, deanery, or diocese.
249. The purpose of such schools is to give an comprehensive and systematic catechetical formation of a basic nature over a period of time during which the specifically catechetical dimensions of formation are promoted: the Christian message; knowledge of man and his socio-cultural situation; the pedagogy of the faith. Such a systematic formation has notable advantages amongst which the following can be numbered:
– its systematic nature which is not so absorbed in the immediate concerns of catechetical activity;
– its quality which is assured by trained specialists;
– integration with catechists from other communities, which promotes ecclesial communion.
The GDC addresses “Institutes for those with responsibility for catechesis” here:
250. So as to prepare those who have responsibility for catechesis, in parishes and vicariates as well as full time catechists (Cf. General Catechetical Directory 109b) it is useful to provide catechetical institutes either at diocesan or inter-diocesan level. Clearly, standards in these institutes will be more demanding. In addition to the courses of basic catechetical formation they will promote those specializations regarded as necessary for the particular circumstances in which they are located. It may prove opportune, even for reasons of rationalizing resources, that the orientation of such institutes be directed towards those with responsibility for various pastoral activities. In this event they can be transformed into centres of formation for pastoral workers. Commencing with a general basic formation (doctrinal and anthropological) those areas in which specialization is required should be determined in relation to the particular demands made on the various pastoral and apostolic works of the diocese in which its pastoral workers are involved.
Interesting the suggestion for expanding this school to something wider than catechesis and faith formation. Many universities and institutions offer certificate and degree programs in religious education, pastoral ministry, and other disciplines that prepare people for ecclesial ministry in the Church.
about Todd Flowerday
A Roman Catholic lay person, married (since 1996), with one adopted child (since 2001). I serve in worship and spiritual life in a midwestern university parish.
Neil has been a blogging collaborator for the past several years on Catholic Sensibility. He brings his unique experiences from theology, spirituality, and the ecumenical sphere. Pay special attention to each one of his posts.