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  • Deacon Dan Wright serves the Diocese of Austin, Texas. His work outside the parish is as a special education teacher serving students with significant cognitive disabilities.

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  • Family activities, spirituality, liturgy, Christian apologetics, social justice topics, special education issues, and promoting the peace and unity of the human family.
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« Advocacy | Main | Sunday Homily: What Goes Up Must Come Down »

April 29, 2008

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Carol

ROFL! Well, as a long time catechist of differing grades, a Confirmation facilitator, and RCIA team member/sponsor/prayer partner, I thought I'd heard it all. Maybe I did. But I wasn't banking on hearing it later..from my own kids. Imagine my chagrin. We didn't leave it all to religious ed instructors, either. I don't understand what happened. All 4 kids went religiously to religious ed all their growing up years, and we lived the faith here -- every Sunday and holy day found us at Mass --we arranged the whole day or eve around it.. All received all the Sacraments. We prayed before meals, prayed whenever anyone was in trouble or hurt or sick. We gave the example of living the social justice aspect of the faith.. we even got them involved in the parish 'extracurricular' life as best we could, too.. How is it, then, that one of the kids snickered at me one day in late teen years, "You don't really believe the devil is real, do you??" (Uh, yeah, I do--he just kicked me in the teeth, girl.)

Anyway, excellent ideas, DDW. Adult religious ed, yes-- we have seen the difference it makes. Adult religious discussion series, too, and adult Scripture study of the upcoming Sunday readings helps, too. But for sure, a lack of knowledge of the Bible means a lack of knowledge despite anything given besides that. I grew up without a Bible as well as without Scripture familiarity -- but all the Protestant kids didn't! I felt really out of the loop, but Catholics just didn't read the Bible back then. My mom didn't get one until late in life, and only read it when she was troubled. She gave it to me, and I read it when I was troubled.. but read it a little beyond then, too, and I fell in love with the One Who loves me (us).

And I know for a fact that the kids are hungry for Him. They are so hungry for His love, despite what anyone says or forecasts. A couple years ago when working with a tableful of teen girls in their last year of Confirmation prep, I quoted a different and rather lengthy passage than what we had read, but it fleshed out and shored up what we had just read. I was looking down at the Bible pages the whole time, but our too-smart girl picked up on it right away. She gasped, "You weren't reading that! You MEMORIZED it??" I looked up and they all stared and I turned scarlet, but I choked it out, "Oh, if you only knew how much the Lord loves you..and how Personally! Read it--you'll see!"

And if Deacons offered a CCC study class to 8th or 9th or 10th grade confirmandi and their parents, and/or Scripture study.. well, I'm sure they would receive any help needed. It is time, well past it, actually, for a return to basics as part of the core teachings.

Pia

Hi DD...here I am!
Well, the Italian data is true, unfortunately. And just think, religious education was obligatory in public schools until recently and even though it's no longer obligatory, most kids take religious ed classes until 14 or 15 (many until 19) years of age, because the grade they get in that class may make or break their passing grade. Even if they learn facts and figures, that information remains just information and does not go beyond a few neurons, let alone reach the heart. It does not foster their perception that it is God whom they are learning about, or that their relationship with Him is the most important thing they could possibly discover, more necessary than the air they breathe or the water they drink.

I used to read Maria Valtorta's Poem of the Man-God to my eldest until he was about 12. I chose only the stories involving children and read only the simple passages. He loved it and told me so. But suddenly one evening, after he asked a deep question to which I replied very well I thought, he said "mom, why do you always talk like a Catechist?"
I realized that the child had entered a different phase...one of a net refusal of all things religious. It didn't help that that year we went to the Holy Land, where he saw the devastation of the Palestinian infrastructure, the long lines of workers waiting to get into Gerusalem to go to work, when he found out that Israel cuts off water and energy whenever a terrorist attack happens, thus crippling any attempt at a normal life especially for women and children, who are those who pay the highest price. He said "see what religion does to people?"

In recent years, he has warmed up just a tad, keeps a rosary near his bed, but he does not practice any recognizable form of faith...but it helps me to know that he still believes in God enough to pray and to entrust his life to Him.
My youngest on the other hand, makes the sign of the cross every time he passes in front of a cross on the street (crosses are set up every where here, along main streets and country roads. They are a sign that a mission has been preached in that town). He also still goes to mass whenever he doesn't have a weekend soccer game. His friends still go to church, and I am very surprised about this and about his lack of rebellion at this late age (15). But I don't ask questions-or talk to him like a Catechist!

Carol

Pia, maybe it's may also the kind of thing wherein "it's always there" so one takes it for granted. My husband lived in NYC until he went into the Peace Corps, then went back home for visits -- 30 years, and he'd never been inside the Statue of Liberty except when we all went. Same for leaf-peepers who travel hundreds of miles to take in our scenic roadsides here. I think we last did a trip to the mountains specifically for that when I was a child. There you are, just a car ride from Rome itself, where all roads lead, etc. So, maybe it's too much of a good thing.

Our old RE director asked me if I learned everything I knew of the faith in CCD. Well, of course not, and not even while praying with my mom at my bedside, or with my cousin at our grandmother's rockerside each morn. I probably learned what has carried me through horrendous losses while being an RCIA sponsor. Our RE director reassured me once (about how even others' kids were going to "get" all the material) by informing me that the Holy Spirit does way more than we know. I hope so, for I trust so.

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