Are We Too Busy to Be Catechized?

In my head, I keep going back to a small portion of the blog post from Bishop Kicanis that I shared with you yesterday:

A challenge for the synod fathers is to understand how we might better catechize the people, deepen their knowledge of the faith and their understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. All of us struggle with this challenge. So few people take part in adult faith formation. We have so little time with young people in religious education classes and in our Catholic schools. Can we find more effective ways of communicating the faith, especially with the young?

I read this post immediately after having lunch with a good friend, the RCIA director at my parish. Calling her simply “the RCIA director” feels like a slight to the amazing amount of work — and the tremendous level of commitment — she’s given to our parish for going on three decades. We tend to think big thoughts when we’re together, to ask tough questions of one another. Our friendship has spanned over fifteen years, and we’re still grappling with many of those questions.

One of them we tackled this week was exactly what Bishop Kicanis is discussing above — the challenge of bringing true catechesis to our parish family, especially the adults. I shared with my friend how many people I’m associated with online who are so tremendously knowledgeable about the faith. Many of us in places like Patheos’ Catholic Channel spend the better part of our days pondering the Church and her teachings. We defend them in the comboxes and “share” pearls of wisdom with our friends via those facebook and twitter buttons you see below. I argued that we are evangelizing all week long, but simply doing it in the context of our everyday lives. My friend was dubious — perhaps rightfully so…

How many of us who read every Catholic blog in town have ever taught a religious ed class in our parish? (I did, for one year, and promptly gave up out of desperation.) How many of us attend midweek Bible study at Church (or teach it?) or belong to apostolates in our dioceses? How many of us serve a regular shift at the local homeless shelter or have volunteered for Catholic Charities? Does the time we invest in learning and sharing online translate in a deeper living out of the Great Commission, or serve as our excuse to keep from more fully engaging in the “real world”?

On the counter side, does our Church — and do our parishes — need to get with the program, with the changes that keep busy families from making Wednesday night at Church the priority our Protestant brethren do? Can things like lunchtime parish webinars we can watch at our desks or evening Google+ Bible Study hangouts take the place of dragging our busy families away from the dinner table amidst weeks full of so many competing priorities? Should we accept that society has drastically changed and look at entirely reinventing our expectations for the way we “do catechesis”?

I ask these questions first and foremost of myself. But if we’re going to resolve the weighty issues our Synod fathers are raising at the Vatican, change begins right here, with each of us. If you’d like to ponder this, feel free to chime in in the comboxes — especially if you’ve worked out a great balance between faith lived out online and faith lived in that “real world” out there.

As for me, I’m still working on it. Baby steps… 


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