Thursday, September 20, 2007

Catechesis for the Family

Every month the CL magazine Traces includes a text from Pope Benedict. This month's offering, "Responding to the Challenge of Truth, Fearlessly Juxtaposing the Proposal of Faith with Reason", was a speech by the Pope, as Bishop of Rome, to the diocesan convention. He addressed the issue of educating in the faith. The Pope outlines an entire pedagogy which starts with the certainty in Christ as Lord and initiates the child into engagement with the world and personal commitment to Christ. There is a very interesting section about how to involve the family in the catechesis of children which seems especially pertinent.

I taught weekly religious education for a few years at the junior high and high school level. This can be quite a frustrating experience in today's parish context. Many families (up to half) do not bring their children to church and just drop their kids at the door for the mandatory classes to get through Confirmation. Some young people can recite all the facts of the faith in surprising detail, but accompany their knowledge with a deep cynicism and even hostility. This disconnect between family commitment and the religious education student can prompt an equally cynical reaction in teachers who may be tempted to give up on those kids.

The Pope emphasized the importance of bringing the parents, as the primary teachers, into the Church's educational mission.

A closest collaboration

Therefore, the Christian family, the small “domestic Church,” and the larger family of the Church must take care to develop the closest collaboration, especially with regard to the education of children (cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 11).

Everything that has matured in the three years in which our diocesan pastoral ministry has devoted special attention to the family should not only be implemented but also further increased.

For example, the attempts to involve parents and even godparents more closely, before and after Baptism, in order to help them understand and put into practice their mission as educators in the faith have already produced appreciable results and deserve to be continued and to become the common heritage of each parish. The same applies for the participation of families in catechesis and in the entire process of the Christian initiation of children and adolescents.

Of course, many families are unprepared for this task and there is no lack of families that–if they are not actually opposed to it–do not seem to be interested in the Christian education of their own children–the consequences of the crisis in so many marriages are making themselves felt here.

Yet, it is rare to meet parents who are wholly indifferent to the human and moral formation of their children and consequently unwilling to be assisted in an educational task which they perceive as ever more difficult.

Therefore, an area of commitment and service opens up for our parishes, oratories, youth communities, and, above all, for Christian families themselves, called to be near other families to encourage and assist them in raising their children, thereby helping them to find the meaning and purpose of life as a married couple.
Some years ago, a couple I knew brought their daughters to religious education classes to prepare for First Communion. The husband called himself a "cultural Catholic" from his Italian heritage, but didn't have faith. The parish required families to attend Mass with their children before the catechism class and involved them at every level. The parents were encouraged to go to confession with their children, and my friends, with this invitation, did so. This parish brought my friends, who were on the sidelines, into close contact with the community and the sacraments in a very warm way. As the Pope says, and as we know from experience, parents are naturally willing to bring something good into the lives of their children when they see it.

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments: