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Catechetical Teaching

As we now find ourselves approaching the end of summer and the return of students to school, the parishes of the Church are turning their attention to the catechetical teaching and training that will begin coinciding with the school year.

When we think of catechetical instruction within the Church we often think of it only in the context of preparation for the reception of the Sacraments and possibly extended to the School of Christian Living held each Sunday either before or after Holy Mass.  Therefore we are thinking that it’s only for the young.  But with just a little thought we should certainly know that this is not the case.

As a society we have decided that education is something that needs quite a lot of time, effort and dedication.  Our youth begin their educational process in kindergarten, or possibly even before, and it continues for many years.  Not too long ago in our country, it was considered enough to have a high school diploma, now of course most parents expect that their children should get some education or training beyond high school.  And some even do so for many years, seeking higher degrees.

And that is in preparation to get a job or career. After you get one, many lines of work require that you take ongoing training or courses, some to maintain certification, but oftentimes only to expand your knowledge base and continue to be an active and productive employee.

I mention all of this because it is seeming that the only part of our life where education ends in the teenage years is within our religious life.  According to the way in which most of our parishes operate all instruction ends at the reception of Confirmation.  In this regard I recently heard it said that only in our religious life do we think that we have a firm handle on all we need to know at the age of 15 or 16.

Now, of course this isn’t really quite the case. Certainly we continue to hear sermons during Holy Mass and devotions which continue to teach us the faith, and certainly there are plenty of religious books and materials to which we have access; but we can ask ourselves here, are we really looking for religious books to read to help us grow in the faith?  Or even are we reading the Bible to better understand what God is trying to communicate to us?  And even in regard to sermons, the comment that a lot of clergy hear most often is, “why so long, Father?”

The reason that I bring this subject up is that many people tell me that they find church boring and their religious life and worship a little unsatisfying. Maybe the answer to this problem is that we have not kept up our learning and inquiry into our faith. I certainly think that, if my understanding in almost any other subject was only at a middle school level, it would certainly be boring and unsatisfying as well.

With this in mind, as our young students are soon to return to catechism classes in the parishes and School of Christian Living will once again start on Sunday, let us each take up the challenge to increase our
understanding of the faith and of our Holy Church.  This can start right within your own parish,
beginning on a Sunday morning.  Really listen to the sermon as it is preached and think of questions that it raises, either those concerning the interpretation of the readings, or how these readings pertain to your own life.  Then of course, seek the answers.  Speak to your pastor, read the Scripture from Holy Mass again at home during the week.  Do some research.

There is also an exercise that I did with my Confirmation class at St. Stanislaus Cathedral.  As you take a look through the newspaper each day, or a news magazine, or I suppose even as you look at the news on the web, consider the religious issues
involved in each story.  I know that usually this will be a moral and ethical issue, but see what is really at stake in the religious dimension.  I know for myself that I can easily become numb to the daily news as it passes by on the television each evening, giving little attention to what the issues are in each story.  Again, give these things some thought.  And if you are unclear about a moral matter, again, ask your pastor, or do some research.

And of course it also might be good for each and every Polish National Catholic to have a good understanding of our Christian Worship and especially Holy Mass.  Why do we do things the way that we do them?  What is the history behind these actions?  What does the Catholic faith teach concerning what happens as Mass?  Again I suppose that we all learned these things when we studied catechism, but it never hurts to hear them again, and now as adults the information and understanding can be expanded.

Also within our churches, a School of Christian Living is something that should be extended for all people of all ages.  Maybe your parish may not have a regular class as it does for young members, but what about a Bible study that might occur for a
number of weeks on a particular book of the Bible or on a particular Bible theme?  How about some discussions after Mass on Sunday, where possibly once a month a topic is discussed for 30 minutes while everyone enjoys their coffee and doughnuts?

The thing is that there are many ways in which we can expand our religious knowledge.  Don’t be satisfied with what you learned many years ago, thinking that it will answer every question for a lifetime.  In fact, let’s think that everything that we do at Church, and even those things we oftentimes do at home, can be for us a School of Christian Living.  By expanding our knowledge, by getting to better understand our faith, and especially to know the ways and teachings of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will be better prepared not only to worship God, but also to serve Him.

We must do these things, for ourselves and especially for our children.  I recently read a statement that we would do well to consider.  It is not a question of whether or not we, and especially our children, will receive instruction.  The question is only where it will come from.  If we are not raised, educated and continually reassured within the context of the Church, then we will receive our moral education and values from some other source and possibly it will be one that does not hold the same values and traditions as we do.  If we do not hear the Christian Catholic message, we might learn only from the values of an un-Christian society, or from those who mock our Christian Catholic heritage.  Let us make sure that within our Churches, and also within our homes, it is a Christian Catholic message that is taught, and lived.  That Christian Catholic values are always brought to bear in each and every situation.


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1006 Pittston Avenue, Scranton, PA 18505
Phone: (570) 346-9131
Website: http://www.pncc.org
Email: info@pncc.org