Saturday, September 29, 2007

CCC agree to use of Plan B

Amy Welborn has a fairly comprehensive post on the decision by the bishops of Connecticut on the adherence to state law by Catholic hospitals in offering Plan B, a possible abortifacient under some circumstances, to rape victims.
This is an immensely complex subject. I have no doubt that eventually the Vatican will weigh in on this. Meanwhile the best course for the catechist at the parish level, is probably to explain that the issue is still theologically unresolved. If you don't understand the issues involved read Jimmy Akin's post. He is not advocating a position, but explaining, as best he can, the probable thought processes of the bishops.
Remember, as a catechist your job is to convey the teachings of the Church, and the teachings of the Church in detail on this matter are still unresolved. If you think my statement is untrue please read the linked articles to see why I believe what I've stated.
Remember if moral issues were easy we would not need saints the caliber of Thomas Aquinas to teach on them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Adult Catechesis

Traditionally in the American Catholic Church Catechesis is something that is done to children. While our Protestant brothers and sisters long ago embraced the concept of adult faith formation, most commonly reflected in the ubiquitous "Sunday school" which nearly every Protestant congregation attends before or after services, Catholics have generally limited their concept of formal catechism to children and teens.
At one time this might have been justifiable. Catholic workers of the nineteen century were generally satisfied to leave matters of theological importance to the priest. Society reflected a general Christian, if not Catholic, set of moral principals, and though in most working class Catholic homes one of the few books likely to be found was the bible, actually reading the bible was not a well practiced trait among the laity.
That a good number of the laity, as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth century, had the fortunate exposure to Catholic parochial schooling also meant a large exposure to resources like the Baltimore Catechism during the formative years, meant that most retained at least a solid base of knowledge of Catholic doctrine.
The post Vatican II period changed that. Note I am not blaming Vatican II for the change. The cultural shifts that took place in the 1960's-1970's were not the result of Vatican II. The lack of Vatican II could no more have prevented those shifts than the existence of Vatican II caused them.
No matter the stand on that subject the reality is that a large segment of the Catholic adult population lacked a fundamental foundation of knowledge of Catholic doctrine. At the time the Church seemed unprepared for dealing with the problem. The beloved Baltimore Catechism was banished, but no authoritative document replaced it. It was not until 1997 that the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published. Unlike the Baltimore Catechism, which was written in a question and answer style, the CCC was written in a style more reminiscent of a textbook. While unquestionably authoritative the CCC was not conducive to casual reading.
Meanwhile in parishes there was a move afoot to reach out to adults. This was often in the form of bible study classes, and small Church Community groups. These groups were most often lead by the laity, and while very enriching for the participants often failed to move beyond the Sunday readings into wider Church doctrine.
Today there is a another trend, which if not sweeping the country, is at least widely found. That is the move toward parish wide faith formation. These programs bring in families, as well as young adults to cover a wide range of topics relevant to Church doctrine. They are often enriched by the participation of priest and deacons (especially deacons) who are knowledgeable in theology, but they also bring in members of the laity to act as catechists, not of children or catechumenates, but to adult Catholics seeking to increase their knowledge of the teachings of the Church.
The success of these programs hinge on the ability of parishes to get their parishioners to spend more than fifty-five minutes a week on God. How to do it? Some suggestions coming.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Father Groeschel responds

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a psychologist who knew Blessed Teresa of Calcutta for thirty years, responds to the New York Times vendetta against the saintly follower of Christ.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


I was speaking just the other day with a liturgist. Fairly solid fellow, though not a big supporter of Latin use. It struck me afterward that in the future anyone who hopes to call themselves a liturgist will have to get with the program, the Holy Father's program.

It almost certainly will mean that in the future it will be expected in most places, and certainly at basilicas and cathedrals, that liturgists will have familiariarity with the Mass in both its forms. And not just both its forms, but in all its permentations. After all there is a great difference between a low mass and a Missa Cantata, not to mention all of the possible options permissible in the Mass of Paul VI. A well trained liturgist will have to be familiar with the requirements for all of these, as well as having a passing familiarity with liturgical music, even if there is music minister, because both forms of Mass have versions in which some or most of parts can be sung.

As with seminary programs which will train future priest, programs in which liturgist are trained will have to change. Meanwhile those presently working as liturgist will have to find their own resources and programs to get up to speed. It is not unreasonable to expect that there will be more support in some diocese than others.

Meanwhile where does the catechist stand in all this? One of the biggest problems that faces catechist in general, and especially those who deal with teens, especially young teens, is the sacramental student. That is the student who is only sent to formation when it is "time" for them the receive one of the sacraments. So we see second graders who once they have received First Reconciliation and Eucharist do not darken our doors again until eleventh grade when they go into confirmation classes.

Such students do not typically attend Mass regularly. Their parents typically do not attend Mass regularly. Their understanding of the liturgy is often stuck at a second grade level.

That makes it important that we include liturgical formation in our programs, no matter what other subjects we are also covering. We'll only get adults with adult understanding of liturgy if we catechize our teens before they become adults. (Addressing the present adult population is a problem for another post.)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

An ordinary day

Just another ordinary Sunday, except, of course Sunday's are never ordinary, not even when they are a liturgically Ordinary Sunday. Why? Because on Sunday the temple not made by human hands was raised in three days. Christ broke the bounds of death and defeated death for all eternity.
And on Sunday the priest in persona Christi offers the bread and wine to God, bread which the earth has given and human hands have made, and wine, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. He then speaks the words that Christ himself spoke the night before he died, recorded by the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke and so fulfilling the words recorded by John in the bread of life discourse.
As it says in the Catechism:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says, This word transforms the things offered. (CCC,1375)
So no Sunday, or any other day is ordinary, because through the Eucharist we are joined to that moment on Calvary when our God sacrificed himself for us.