Fr. Robert J. Hater in his awesome book Common Sense Catechesis gives catechists an instructional form to understand the “Lessons from the Past” as well as a “Road Map for the Future.”
I love that. While it’s good to know where we came from and how we got to where we are today, that’s just an echo of thoughts if the student is not given a map pointing him in the right direction. That’s so important.
Let’s get started with this book study, shall we?
The forward of Fr. Hater’s book is written by Sister Angela Ann Zukowski of the University of Dayton. She makes sure the reader is aware of the “shifts” in our society and culture. There have been political, psychology, sociology, methodology, and anthropology shifts. I’ll wait will you google some of those definitions. 😉
Our whole world has changed. Is changing and “secularism, relativism, consumerism, and individualism” are making us (and especially our children) think and act differently. There’s no going back, folks. I’m sorry. Just as there is no going back to the caveman era or the stone ages, there is no going back for those of us living in the technological age. Aside from the second coming, we know too much. Man has always moved forward, never backward.
Mother the Church is wise beyond her years. While God does not change, the Church does. It is the human community on earth…ever nurturing, ever guiding.
The Popes have been guardians of the growth and changing nature of this human entity, constantly taking the rebellious, delinquent child by the neck and guiding us back, giving us a deliberate shake, and reminding us what the consequences of our actions are. And then, most importantly of all, forgiving us and embracing and welcoming us back home.
Like it or not, every home needs a disciplinarian. And every home needs a comforter. Such has always been the image of the family in the characters known as Father and Mother. This creates a balance. Life pleads for balance.
For years the family has been the unshakeable stronghold of the Church.
The domestic church linked to the ever greater Church. The “traditional Catholic family…offered balance, stability, and direction…” In many homes, it still does. I know these families. I see them in Church and CCD every week.
Yet cultural, political, environmental, global “shifts” have shifted our ways of thinking, our views, our opinions, our actions.
“The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is part…icularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.” — Pope Francis, from his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium
Mother Church sits there reminding us that we have been adopted by a King. We are children of God. We are loved. We have dignity. We are valuable. Procedure with caution. Listen to your Mother.
And the rebellious child spits at her and recklessly goes along with his free will, master of his senses. Many children today grow up without that fatherly influence. And without a father, there is no protection for the family.
The Church has always harbored the poor, the unwanted, the undesirables, the rejected, the homeless, the fatherless.
Numerous Popes have been the fatherly voice, fiercely reinforcing the mother’s counsel. Sometimes the Church is the only authoritative voice in a child’s life. Popes, like fathers, tend to be blunt and authoritative. With youth we don’t see the wisdom, not until we’re old and spent (miserably so)…and wisdom has found us. It’s all quit natural. And then we wish we had listened more to that old reckoning voice.
It might help to remember that the Church is over 2000 years old. That’s pretty old by anyone’s standards. And pretty wise.
The Church has outlived emperors and plagues and generals and presidents and kings and it will outlive each of us.
Perhaps we, people of the 21st century, would be wise in listening more closely to the trail of wisdom left by a Church founded by the Voice of God.
Perhaps that is what we need to tell the children who come through our religious education doors this school year. If they desire to be open-minded, begin by listening to the Voice of God that is older and wiser than their parents and grandparents.
The questions Sister Angela mentions are:
- Why is there such a loss of Catholic culture and identity today?
- Why is parish participation rapidly declining?
- Why are Catholic unable to clearly and convincingly explain their faith when confronted?
These are questions catechists in the schools needs to address and know.
Pope Francis challenges catechists: “The catechist, then, is a Christian who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life and who is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others. That is not easy! It engages our entire existence! What is the Catechism itself, if not the memory of God, the memory his works in history and his drawing near to us in Christ present in his word, in the sacraments, in his Church, in his love?
“Dear catechists, I ask you: Are you in fact the memory of God?” (September 29, 2013)
In order to be the memory of God, wouldn’t it make sense to have a “historical catechetical perspective”? To “learn from the past in order to re-imagine the future”?
Fr. Hater, in this book, helps us to follow the Church’s vision and mission in evangelizing and disciplining the Church and why it will take new approaches and methodology for catechesis in today’s ever-changing world.