February 8, 2014 – Passing On the Faith

Well here we are, about a week into February, and I have yet to keep my normal blogging schedule.  As I mentioned a couple weeks back, last Saturday I spent the day with our Confirmation class at the Shrine in Belleville for their Confirmation retreat.  My original plan was to write a blog the following day.  However, this was Super Bowl Sunday, and by my own declaration, I proclaimed it a couch potato day.  Of course, with the way the game turned out, I might as well have been doing something more constructive.  Anyway, I have the best of intentions to get back to my weekly blogging schedule.  I have kept my peeps hanging long enough.

Overall, I think the retreat was a good experience for everyone.  Fortunately, the weather, while not perfect, cooperated long enough for us to make the trip.  I think it was beneficial for our kids to see that they are not the only ones preparing for this important step in their faith life, as they were joined by about 300 other kids from several different Dioceses.  We had some good speakers, especially Fr. Chava Gonzalez, an Oblate priest who did a good job relating to the kids.  He shared the fact that he came from a family with 10 brothers and sisters, and joked that they their pastor had to have a separate penance service just for his family.  He also said that his mother would consult the priest before confessions, and would tell him “make sure so and so confesses to you when he or she did this …”  Talk about embarrassment!  Please continue to pray for our Confirmation class as they prepare for their big day on April 22 at the Cathedral.

We in the Catholic faith put a lot of time and resources into catechizing our children.  However, out efforts are in vain if the faith is not made a priority at home.  Despite our best efforts, we still see many of the people we spend so much time teaching the faith to falling away from it as adults.  An article that I read this past week talked about how we could make our catechesis more effective,  The author makes the point that our catechesis fails not because of our teaching methods, or because of our educational philosophies.  Maybe our teaching would be more effective if it were directed to a different audience.  In other words, maybe it is the adults who are in greater need of catechesis than the children.

Unless adults are intimately involved in church ministry, their faith formation pretty much consists of reading the bulletin, listening to the homily (if they attend Mass regularly), and the sacramental preparation of their children.  The author contends that, whatever methods we use, it is not fair to expect us to transmit adult faith concepts to a child. There is even less possibility of success when you expect the child to retain that barely-comprehensible catechesis into adulthood and assume the challenge of being a disciple and catechist of his or her own children.

I agree with the author that there is plenty of need for adult catechesis.  However, for whatever reason, this has not been part of our expectation and structure as a church.  So do we try to expend even more resources into adult catechesis when funds are already scarce and the church calendar is already overflowing?  This doesn’t seem realistic either.  I wish there were some way that we could have had all of our adults be a part of our “Fanning the Flame” program a couple of years ago.  It was so beneficial in learning about why the church takes the positions it does.  Fortunately, in this day and time, there are resources that can be had easily from the internet and other sources.

One great opportunity for adult catechesis is an offering from the Catholic Conference of Illinois.  The Conference is offering a 91-day program of daily, emailed readings of the Social Teaching of the Church. This is the perfect opportunity to learn about what Pope Francis has been focusing on since his election last March.  Participants will receive a daily email featuring a small section of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church — usually just a few paragraphs — beginning on Ash Wednesday (March 5) and continuing through June 8. This 91-day project is modeled after a similar program conducted in the Joliet diocese last summer, which the bishops of Illinois approved for statewide use.  To sign up to receive these daily e-mails, click on the link below and fill out the information:

http://www.ilcatholic.org/91-days/

In our local Catholic Church, the main recent news was the announcement of the suppression of 5 parishes. including St. Leo’s Parish in Modoc.  There is a movement among a group of people to try to maintain the parish grounds for weddings, funerals, and other social events.  I certainly appreciate the fact that these folks put a lot of their hard work and treasure toward keeping their parish afloat.  However, at some point, practicality has to reign, and to keep a parish of 26 families going just doesn’t make sense.  It would be better for all involved to put their resources toward their new parish and make that parish as viable as it could be.  By the way, the numbers of families in the other parishes being suppressed are 58, 36, 29 and 19.  It is hard to even call these parishes in that they do not have the resources to provide the ministries and services a parish should.  They are essentially gathering places for Mass once a week.  Yes, the process is painful for some.  Yes, the process will continue.  However, it is necessary in order to ensure that our church is as strong as it can be for us and for the generations to come.  Please prat for those who will become part of new parishes and for those who have the responsibility of continuing to make these difficult decisions.

Lord willing, I’ll be back writing again next week.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Have a great week.  Spring training starts this week!  Peace.

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