Vol. 167 No. 27 - July 02 - July 08, 2016
If one reads through a copy of the YOUCAT – the Catechism of the Catholic Church for youth it comes across as a lively catechism really speaks out to the reader through its impressive presentation. What caught my attention is not the youth-friendly Q&A style presentation, neither is it the lively pictures and images, nor is it the margin notes filled with quotations and explanations, but rather something that could be missed if one just had a cursory glance at the book.
At the bottom of every right hand side page is a stick figure caricature of a human being presented as a flipbook. This miniature figure is depicted to be somersaulting and cart-wheeling repeatedly as you flip the corners of the book at high speed. At the end of the book, however, this character is shown to be jumping out of the book. It was this specific action that catches one's eye because it so beautifully encapsulates the essential characteristic and truth about our Faith – it has to be lived out!
One is reminded of a quote from the Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II, Catechesi Tradendae (Catechesis for our times): “we live in a difficult world….in a time of uncertainty. In this world catechesis should help Christians to be… ‘light’ and ‘salt’ (– 56). These words of the now St. John Paul II were penned way back in the year 1979 and if we reflect on them we will realize that the context he is talking about has not changed even today, if anything it has only amplified. It is in this context of today where the clouds of economic instability, environmental degradation, violence against women, religious intolerance loom large that we are called not only to profess our faith in words but also to live it out in action. The challenge thrown to us by Jesus is to be the salt and light of the world. We can be this salt and light only when we start living out our profession of allegiance to Christ.
Every Sunday and on major feast days we profess our faith in the triune God and in the Church and its statutes. How often have we reflected on the Creeds that we profess? Have we ever realized that we are professing something deeper than just those statements? It is one thing to profess our faith and pledge our allegiance to Jesus in our personal prayers and during services in church, it is quite another thing to profess our faith in the world outside the confines of our prayer rooms and churches.
On Faith Formation Sunday we are called to pause and to reflect on the need to live out our Faith, but it is also an opportunity for us to ask ourselves how we are forming our Faith.
When we speak about faith formation, there is a tendency to limit it as a need only for children and those preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. But the question that needs to be asked is whether formation ends at the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation? Can we say that our faith is fully formed at the stage in life?
Have we known all there is about Jesus and the church and our Christian Tradition? There is an old adage that says life is a learning process from the womb to the tomb. Adages like this apply to the whole of life and hence they imply a need and necessity to grow even in the knowledge of our Faith. On Faith Formation Sunday we need to ask ourselves what is the one area of my faith that I need to grow in the knowledge of? What steps can I take to grown in that area?
Of course, faith all boils down to the experience one has had of Jesus. But just like we see in the gospels, every character that encountered Jesus had a transformation, so too our faith needs to transform us. Be it the Samaritan woman or the two disciples on their way to Emmaus or the Apostles, every encounter of Jesus left people spell bound and willing to change their lives through their actions. Yes change is difficult and uncomfortable, but then Jesus did not walk a path of roses nor did he promise us that following Him would be easy.
Let us therefore learn from the flipbook character of the YOUCAT and take the rich heritage of our Faith, all that we profess in our prayer and in church and venture out into the world joyously and excited that we are called to witness and live out our Faith in a Man who literally gave everything away out of His love for us.
Fr. Vincent D’Cruz is the secretary of the Catechetics Committee.
The fundamental focus of adult religious education is not remedial; it is not about instructing adults in propositions of the tradition that they did not receive or have forgotten from their last experiences of formal religious education. In other dimensions of their lives, adults gain the information they need to function effectively: how to use a computer, how to negotiate the best interest rate for a home loan, how to read a quarterly retirement statement. The same is true of faith and Church membership.
But the information is not enough—it is not information for its own sake, but information that is in service of formation and transformation. By the way adult faith formation is structured, we can invite adults to look beyond the “what” of our tradition to the “so what?” What difference does this make to how I live my life, raise my children, spend my money and engage in the political dynamics of my town and state?
Most of us, if we're honest, eventually conclude the preliminary work of Passing on the Faith is by realising that what we really want to form is not so much a code of conduct (though that is obviously important), as it is an intimacy with God and the things of God. What we want to implant is an easy and natural affection for the holy, an inherent connectedness to an ongoing story, and a sense of membership within a sustaining community that, being larger than any of us, is always there to hold all of us, as well as demand some things of us.
And to do these things, the second step is to pray earnestly together, as parents and/or extended family and without the children present, for them and for the progress of their growth in holiness. That, too, seems like a no-brainer, but it is an adult or mentoring habit often overlooked, and almost never routinised in the press of other, more immediate duties.
A Great Mission born out of the Great Commission armed with the Great Commandment awaits us - To invite the world to encounter the Christ of Faith, the Jesus of History. The challenge must not make us lukewarm or worry about being successful, rather being faithful and relevant to the History of our Lives in the “here and now”. The Scriptures far from being outdated are meant for all time.
Henri Nouwen points out Low esteem as one main suffering experienced in Ministry due to various bruises. This invites enabling/empowering others around as Jesus did: One who was a mere sand pile was toughened to be Cephas; Matthew, the tax collector, was invited to stop playing with cash registers; the Samaritan woman discovered the joy of new life. Jesus teased people from the Inside in order to draw out true inner potential, enabling them to Mission. If we ourselves suffer from myopia of vision, it will be sad. Vivian William highlights how a Teacher is different from a Catechist.
Catechism has always been the core and one of the high points of my daily living since I was a teenager. Stemming from a passion to reveal the goodness of the Father and His constant miraculous presence, the flame for catechism only seems to burn brighter and stronger. Having been a catechist for 12 years, I see faith formation as an enthusiastic and passionate participation in sharing our faith, based on the teachings of the Church and fundamental human experiences where the Father is wholly present in every simple act and deed.
In 2004, I was privileged to be chosen by Fr Vijay Drego to attend the Catechist Training Course (CTC), which was instrumental in moulding me as a catechist, through appropriate implementation of various Church documents, coupled with structured pedagogy. It further broadened my horizon to include the whole of Sunday School in the ministry of our faith. It led me to realise that my role as a catechist is not limited to one particular class, but rather spans the Sunday School. Last year, the IMFE course reinforced in me the knowledge of discovering and discerning the accountability of our ministry within the parish community, the diocesan level, and through the local Church to the level of the universal Church. In the light of the insightful learnings received, the Sunday School in our parish has become a home that is all-encompassing and united, under one umbrella of a ‘Faith formation’ ministry.
The Charismatic Renewal is a move of God, a mighty river of grace for the Church. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal began in 1967, two years after the end of Vatican II (1962-1965) and 70 years after issuing of the Encyclical Letter on the Holy Spirit by Pope Leo XIII. In 1967, ‘a new spring-time’ in the Church was ushered in by the powerful and transforming experience of a group of students of Duquesne University (run, appropriately enough, by the Holy Ghost Fathers), in Pittsburg, USA from February 17 to 19, 1967. Called the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, it began to have an impact on regular parishes and other Catholic institutions. It soon caught the attention of the Church. Cardinal L.J. Suenens, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels recognised it as ‘a current of grace’ and convinced Pope Paul VI of the need for the Church to accept and encourage the Renewal, in order that it should not grow in isolation. In the summer of 1975, some 10,000 Catholic charismatics gathered in the Catacombs of St Callistus in Rome. A special Mass was celebrated with singing in tongues and prophecies at the Papal altar in St Peter’s Basilica, followed by the historic special audience with Pope Paul VI, at which the Pope called the Charismatic Renewal “a chance for the Church and for the world.”
Many a layperson is aware that, as a disciple of Christ, s/he is part and parcel of the fundamental mission of the Church to bring the good news of the Gospel to every corner, however remote.“Lay people are not second-class members at the service of the Church hierarchy, but are disciples of Christ called to enliven every environment, every activity and every human relationship according to the Gospel,” Pope Francis has said. Did not Jesus say: “You are the light of the world….You are the salt of the earth?” Indeed, laypersons, as members of the People of God take part, in a way proper to them, in the priestly, prophetic, and royal function of Christ Himself. The proclamation of the Gospel “is not reserved to some ‘mission professionals,’ but should be the profound aspiration of all lay faithful who are called to evangelise by virtue of their baptism.” (Pope Francis)
If any endeavour or undertaking is to reasonably successful, there must be a study of the problems to be tackled. If the Good News – “I have come so that you may have life, and have it to the full” – is to be proclaimed, the societal situation in which the proclamation is to be made must be known and understood. Here is an outline of some of the problems that hover over our beloved land: a chalta hai attitude, self-serving public servants, caste system, corruption that is reinforced by poverty and inequality, an educational system that favours the haves, gender bias, heavy dependence on fossil fuels that results in enormous pollution; lop-sided advertising that increases the desire for luxury goods, (cars, for example), scant respect for Nature and the environment; the sword of Damocles that is terrorism. Added to this is the gradual insertion of what may be termed the ‘saffron mentality’ into as many fields as possible. One cannot forget the fall in moral values brought about by an increasingly materialistic, consumer-oriented, ‘selfie’ society.
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