Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thoughts on Catechesis

I'm continuing my travels throughout the state on business here, but I had a chance out of the blue to speak with my only real life practicing catholic friend. He called me while stuck in traffic out of boredom.

Its very interesting how different our experiences have been in the Church. He is a cradle Catholic, attended Catholic school, raised in it, etc, and has clung to his faith. He believes it all but can't necessarily explain it. He really is a good example of someone trying their best to follow the Church. However, the explanations he offers for the Church teachings hinge on experience and emotions instead of a balance between faith and reason. Of course when trying to explain the faith to a non-believer this type of explanation usually falls short of convincing those who would like a more definitive answer. It really says a lot about the state of catechesis these days in parishes and catholic schools. Most Catholics cannot explain what they believe or why they believe it.

My experience with catechesis is much different. As a convert in an FSSP parish I sit with my priest each week for roughly 2 hours studying with papal encyclicals, church father writings, engaging in theology discussion etc. Of course I have to do this to enter the Church and most parishes are either too large to have one-on-one classes and thus have some sort of RCIA class (my previous fssp priest said it is sometimes called "rciB", if you get the drift...).

I've also had friends who no longer practice tell me that their CCD classes consisted of coloring pictures of Jesus and Moses and not much else. But I have a solution for you if yer in this boat:

Go get yourself a Baltimore Catechism. Start at the beginning and memorize it like I'm doing. The new Compendium, which I also have, if extremely similar (kudos BXVI). But the B-cat is easier to memorize because the answers are shorter and more to the point.

Just a suggestion. Perhaps others have different experiences...which is what the comment box is for! :-)

Even if you aren't Catholic I'd love to hear about your own religious education. Sometime I think I'll post my Sunday School and Youth Group experiences from growing up. In fact, I think I would really like to do that to give a little perspective for my current religious state.

-pax et bonum-


Kirk said...

I found your blog by chance last week, and have been really enjoying what I have read. I find blogs very fascinating.

I teach Sunday School for teens age 14 to 15. I am in a small I guess you would call it Anglo-Catholic Parish South of Dallas. I struggle with exactly what you are talking about.

Most of the teens have grown up in the church. Most where confirmed last year, and yet most have no real idea of why we do or say any of the things we do or say.

They feel a great void between them and the church. Many even go to Episcopal schools. I find myself somewhat baffled at this phenomenon. I guess you could say I am a new convert to Anglicanism, and I cannot say that this will be a permanent home for me. Being one who completely agrees with the Roman Catholic church, and would feel very much at home in the Mother church.

So keep to the faith. Your blog is a inspiration.


Matt said...

Hi Kirk,

Thanks for the comment and the interest in the blog. It sounds like the Episcopal Church has similar catechesis problems. I hear all the time that things are getting better in the regular Catholic parishes and I hope that also means the educational aspects as well.

There are several Anglican Use parishes in Texas and one in Arlington ( you might find a nice home there if you decide to come into the Catholic Church.

For my part, I think Anglicans have a lot of nice things. The buildings, the music, the high liturgy, and to some extent even the old world culture (perhaps now lost?) is very attractive.

But unfortunately, and I think you are seeing this from what you have said, it has divorced itself from the truth. We need the barque of peter in the stormy seas, especially in these times we live in.

Keep reading and commenting! -Matt

Kirk said...

Thanks Matt

Yes I have looked with great interest to visiting St. Mary the Virgin Church. The church is about 20mils from my house. Someday it could become a home. The only RC church around me that I know of is a good church, but I wouldn't consider it great.

I guess the only real issue holding me back from crossing over is the fact that I am discerning a calling to priesthood. As I am married this is not possible in the Roman Catholic church. If I was already ordained then there is a different story, but I struggle ethically with the idea of using the Anglican church as a bridge to fulfill my desires. Now if the Lord would take away this deep call I feel to being a priest then who knows.

I struggle with so much that is going on the in the Anglican church especially the Episcopal arm of the church. I also struggle with jumping ship just because times are rough. At the moment I feel I am to stay. To be a light in dark times. I pray with many others that the church (Anglican Communion) as a whole will repent and that we could see healing and a union with Rome. I just pray the church does not continue to do things that will further build a wall between us.


Matt said...

Well keep reading (many things) and praying. The journey can be exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

I know the TAC is working its way back to Rome and has, during a synod, signed the Catechism and said there are no conditions on their return, that they will do whatever Rome asks of them. They may be able to retain their married clergy. No doubt you have already looked into the validity of orders in the Anglican Church from the Roman perspective, and I bet that is a struggle for you as well.

but I struggle ethically with the idea of using the Anglican church as a bridge to fulfill my desires.

I think you are right to struggle ethically with this. If you desire to be ordained in the episcopal church just so the Catholic church will be able to take you later, I have doubts that the RC bishop would consider you for the pastoral provision. I'm sure people have also considered ordination in the Orthodox Churches for the same reasons.

I feel for you, because sometimes we feel God is calling us to something but ________ (fill in the blank) is standing in the way. When this occurs in my life I just get on my knees and say, "You know what God, I don't get it." I guess that's where submission comes in.

Have you spoken to the Coming Home Network International? They deal, on a personal level, with these things all the time.

Kirk said...

Thanks Matt for your time and sincerity msging me back. I have thought about talking to The Coming Home Network, but not with the aspect of feeling a calling to vocation. That is something I will pray about. It cannot hurt in looking into.

I would love to talk and share more with you. Please feel free to email me any time at


"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton