On Monday evening my parish’s Adult Faith Formation committee hosted the first episode of Fr. Robert Barron’s CATHOLICISM series. It was a fantastic success. We turned the auditorium into a movie theatre – popcorn and all. We priests spoke about it at all the Masses, I even tied it into my homily. We had enough chairs for 300 people. We ran out. We had about 350 show up. Some were expected to be there – half of the 7th grade religious ed parents and students for instance, but a great deal came because they wanted to be there as well. The other half will come on Thursday. I expected the kids to be bored and restless. I was wrong. The entire 50 minutes the kids and everyone else were quiet and glued to the video. It was a source of great personal pride that Fr. Barron took notice of our success and posted about it on his own Facebook page.
This series is a little to heady for the 7th graders – but it was their parents we were looking to reach. And I think we did. I heard from many that said they would come back each week. I specifically made the point to the parents there that we would show the video as the students were beginning their classes, so what better way to kill that hour than by joining us and learning about our faith. A priest will be present at each session for Q&A at the end of each video.
This first week I gave a very brief talk about who Jesus is and the fact that his resurrection still impacts us today. 2000 years after his life and we are still talking about him. His resurrection changed everything. We don’t follow christ because he was just some nice guy who said a bunch of nice things. We follow him because He is the Lord. And if Jesus is Lord, if he is the Son of God, then our lives must be directed towards Him. It isn’t until we develop a personal relationship with Jesus in the eucharist and in the Word that we will truly be fulfilled. Each of us is made for Jesus. Religious education, Mass, everything else that we do, should never be just something to get through, a burden, a hoop to jump through. It’s at religious education as children that we learn about our Faith, about its life giving and life saving reality. It’s at Mass that we are fed and nourished but the Eucharist and the Word of God. These videos bring that reality to the fore.
Fr. Barron makes our faith jump by using high quality media. Every person I spoke to said they were captivated by Fr. Barron’s words, by his presence. He grabs us and holds us for the 50+ minutes of the video. It’s hard not to do that when the topic is as great as the person of Jesus. But we all know that we’ve sit through homilies and talks that make watching paint dry exciting. These videos make clear that our faith is exciting. There was nothing boring about it. Thanks be to God the people of the parish are open to learning about Jesus. Thanks be to God for this source of nourishment. I watched it again with everyone else on Monday night and again and again I found myself drawn in, nodding my head. We have 9 more weeks to go. I hope the enthusiasm and interest keeps up.