Thursday, November 23, 2006


The point is this. Pro multis has been large in the Catholic blogosphere lately and most of the experts seem to contend that "for all" vs. "for many" wouldn't be a big thing, except that catechesis in the English speaking world is so poor that many Catholics don't realize that while Jesus died to make salvation available for all, it is not available to all, because they reject it. So while he died to make salvation available for all it is really available only for many, because of their own actions in rejecting salvation.
This lack of catechesis in this aspect of our faith extends to many other areas. We have a whole generation who are poorly catechized in the Catholic Faith. It is very easy to rail against the conditions which caused this to happen; Conservatives against Vatican II, orthodox liberals against fixation on rolling back Vatican II as the solution to all ills.
The real question is how to fix the problem? The balance of present day Catholics, both adult and children will never be able to go to Catholic school. For the balance of our families private school is not an option. Home schooling doesn't work when both parents must work just to make end meet.
That does not mean that education doesn't happen in the home, it just means that both the parish and the home have a hand in Catholic Christian formation.
It also means that our Religious Education programs must be effective, they must reach out to children, teens and adults. In two hours a month we can not teach a child all they should know about their faith. I come from a parish with an ambitious Life Teen program, which meets for three hours every Sunday and supplements it with monthly family catechesis. This is still not enough.
Our answer must be similar to the United States' wider educational problems. To create educated students we strive to create lifelong learners. To create well catechized Catholics we must strive to create lifelong catechical learners.
My parish does it by making available adult classes as well as adult and teen bible studies. The real focus of the classes is not to cover it all, but to get out to the participants a sense of the amount of material available and the techniques necessary to absorb the material.
Bible reading, in some form, should be a part of every Catholics life, not just limited to the readings at Mass. All of the Pope's writings are available on the net, as well as writings from the Church Doctors. The documents of Vatican II and the many documents propagated since then are available, with analysis from experts.
Remember if your children see you read the bible every day, do the Liturgy of the Hours, spend time reading books by Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II, Any Welborn or Dave Armstrong then that is what they will do, (even if they don't let you know it!)
And we must work so that the catechism we do at our parishes makes good use of the little time they have to teach a solid foundation.
I work with both middle school and high school teens. No matter what lesson I'm covering there are several things I try to relate. One thing is they should be praying every day, continuously if possible. Another is that reading the bible should be in their day plan too, even if only for five or ten minutes. I quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where applicable, especially to the older teens. I make sure they know the CCC and the new compendium are available on the Internet, where most of these kids live.
We can do this, but we need to be in the game and move beyond pointing at the problem parishes.

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