Now this is the catechist's greatest fear. Sometimes we know a lesson will be controversial. Plan a lesson on annulments, or abortion or even when to kneel during Mass and the astute catechist will be prepared for a lively discussion. Talk about obedience to God and one expects a discussion of the difficulty of living up to the commandments or mercy verses justice. So of course God in his infinite wisdom throws out the 1 200lbs gorilla of modernist heresy to be dealt with.
Now the speaker was a post menopausal single woman. I mention this only to point out that this was not a personally relevant belief, at least not in the conventional sense.
Now I have no doubt left to my own devices I would have felt a deep sense of panic moving in. This is the kind of rabbit hole that can derail an entire group. The rest of the lesson gets buried and half the group refuses to return, because the facilitator is not "pastoral" or "understanding."
Luckily I had prayed before the lesson, always a vital part of the preparation for a teacher or catechist before performing their ministry. So I know it was not me, but the Holy Spirit who responded with, "What part of Humanae Vitae do you believe Pope Paul got wrong?"
"I..I don't know I've never read it.."
"How about Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body?"
"So what you're saying is that you're prepared to challenge a teaching of the Church without knowing the moral and theological underpinnings of those teachings?"
"Well when you put it like that..."
"So why not read Humanae Vitae before you decide you disagree with it?"
I pointed out that the document was easy to find with a simple Google search, and promised we'd discuss it once everyone had an opportunity to read it. We then smoothly continued with the lesson.
I don't know that everyone in that group will take the time to read Humanae Vitae before our next session, after the holidays, but I do know that I'll be rereading it, just in case.