As we head to the center of the US Bishops’ Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us we encounter thirteen principles to guide the goals of adult faith formation. In this post, we’ll look at three General Principles for Adult Faith Formation
- Plan adult faith formation to serve the glory of God, the building of the Kingdom, and the good of the Church. (75)
- Orient adult Christian learning toward adult Christian living. (76)
- Strengthen the role and mission of the family in Church and society. (77)
I think it’s important to remember that the prime good of the Church is doing the will of God and furthering the Reign of God. Most anything else, especially the material manifestations of the Church in the world are peripheral. At best.
This second principle is well-considered. Many Catholics, including many in the hierarchy criticize the effort to be relevant. And perhaps many efforts to that end come off as awkward. But the intention to connect to how adult believers live in the world isn’t always on the agenda in many church quarters. Too often we think other people are just us. What floats our boat will surely float theirs. And if it doesn’t, it is they who are deficient in some way.
Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio may be behind principle number three. I wouldn’t argue against it. How human beings marry, bear and raise children, and conduct themselves as the domestic Church derives from principle #2. Marriage and family are very much a part of how we live in the world and express our faith. It makes sense that forming adults in their roles as spouses and parents, plus neighbors to other couples and children, should be a prime concern.
I agree on that second point… and a general concentration in some quarters on intellectual understanding of doctrine (and apologetics) does not really foster a sense that to be Catholic is a lifestyle, not just a belief and a few holy practices. If personal prayer and participation in liturgy do not lead our adults to living differently in the world, we have failed to catechize them on the point of being Catholic.