As we roll to the finish line with Pope John Paul II’s Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (last post Wednesday) it’s time for another document.
The US Bishops dropped Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us in 1999. You know the reference to the witness of the Emmaus disciples in Luke 24: how they experienced Jesus’ teaching of the Scriptures. The Lord clearly touched more that hearts alone; the two picked up after their dinner reservation and journeyed all the way back to Jerusalem to give the good news.
The subtitle tells us something of the intent: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States. What of this plan? We’re well over two decades past publication. What’s happened?
As a liturgist, I sit on the outside of catechetical doings in dioceses. Among parish colleagues in five parishes, this has had little impact. But there are thousands of other Catholic faith communities in the US. The most committed national leaders–the people who workshop it for us–they are certainly on board with this work. How many pastors they’ve been able to convince? Not a lot, I’d say.
Unlike other documents, I won’t be citing the whole texts. I’ll run through the outline (below), and highlight important passages over the next month or so.
Introduction: A Renewed Commitment to Adult Faith Formation
Part I A New Focus on Adult Faith Formation
- Opportunities and Potential
- Challenges and Concerns
- The Priority of Adult Faith Formation
Part II Qualities of Mature Adult Faith and Discipleship
- Living Faith
- Explicit Faith
- Fruitful Faith
Part III A Plan for Ministry—Goals, Principles, Content, and Approaches for Adult Faith
- Three Major Goals
- Six Dimensions
- Concrete Approaches
Part IV A Plan for Ministry—Organizing for Adult Faith Formation
- The Pivotal Importance of the Parish
- Key Parish Roles of Leadership and Service for Adult Faith Formation
- Diocesan Support for Adult Faith Formation
- A Call to Implementation
Conclusion: Our Hope for the Future
Most often I’ve seen this document cited by people who work in forming disciples and in evangelization. That interests me a good bit more than gathering parishioners for a lecture on the catechism or something.