Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Does Modern Catechesis Focus Too Much on the Wrong Thing?
We are a Church in Crisis. It's not a crisis of vocations or belief, but of catechesis...and whose fault is it?
Fingers are pointing everywhere.
The "Progressives" are all about "feeling" wheras those who claim "Traditonalism" are pointing to the intellect. One side cries for people to have more "compassion" while the other cries for people to have more knowledge.
Neither side denies the need for both intellect and feeling, and yet, this is a battlefield within the Catholic Church, and really...within Christianity in general in the United States. The thing is this; neither side is wrong according to these very simplified positions. In the classic Catholic position, it is not "either/or" but "both/and"!
In pondering this, I think I see at least a part of the problem; to no one's surprise, we haven't yet found the middle ground that will emcompass the extremes along with the objective Truth.
For once, this is not going to be a long post, for I really have nothing to offer, but only an observation.
For the "Baltimore Catechism" crowd, the problem in the Church is completely intellectual.They are heaven-bent on winning souls for Christ through the intellect, through presenting Truth academically through homilies, teaching in parishes and in fact, informal teaching whenever the situation presents itself. They are sure that if they raise their children to memorize the Catechism, their children will become (hopefully living) Saints by the time they reach the age of 13 and the hormones are raging and destroying their brains.
The "Love, Justice, and Peace" crowd doesn't think they have much use for dogma and doctrine, and think that people need to experience the love of Christ through emotion and hands-on experience. They in fact, haven't much time for the knowledge part at all, for as they accurately ascertain, people usually come to Christ not through the intellect, but through the emotive powers.
Yet we know that the purely intellectual is not an answer to the world, for many people are not intellectual, couldn't care less, and actually, find the Baltimore Catechism and those who use it to be elitist, snooty, and, well...impossible to understand. And those who are more intellectual reveal to us that the "Emo" crowd isn't the answer because purely emotional "conversions" are NEVER lasting, for they are based on something superficial and prone to change, second by second.
It comes down to this: Catechesis is Classic Catholicism: It is "Both/And".
Each "side", if you will, has something to offer, but is incomplete in and of itself.
So while the Liberal/Progressives have a portion of the Truth, what they are lacking is the foundation of knowledge; this crowd tends to be either completely uncatechized or reject the intellectual portion of Catholicism almost completely, if only because they view the other side as being political, not truthful.
On the other hand, the Conservative/Traditional crowd tends to emphasize the intellectual side of Catholicism, to the detriment of the foundation of service to fellow humanity, if only because they view the other side as being political, not truthful.
Do you see the parallels?
Having been on both sides, and now fighting to maintain the center ground, which is Christ Himself, I have to offer these observations.
What I see as the main problem is this: BOTH sides forgot about the SOUL.
BOTH sides forget that the enter purpose of the coming of Christ, His Passion and Death is....so that we can spend ETERNITY with Him.
Yes, we are Body, and it is our obligation to tame our passions so that we might become Holy while here on this earth. And because the Body is important, we are called to care for the bodily needs of others; for so did Jesus. Jesus never disdained the importance of charity to the body of a person, for He both suffered in His actual body, but continues to suffer in His Mystical Body.
It doesn't end there; we are also Spirit. We have been created with an eternal soul, and we are, by our very nature, drawn to eternity, drawn to God, so as to live with Him, in Him, and through him not just now, but through Eternity. Our Souls are given to us at our very Conception; this is when life begins. Not just in this world, but for ETERNITY.
The problem with "Conservative vs Liberal" and "Progressive vs Traditional" is that neither side goes far enough; BOTH sides forget the importance of the SOUL, either to the detriment of the will or the intellect. or both combined.
It is so easy for us to forget that what we are doing here on earth has eternal consequences. It is so easy to forget that our intellect serves a purpose, and our hands, the same purpose; the salvation of SOULS.
We say it every Sunday: we believe in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
If we really BELIEVED it, we would not go to extremes and seek to politicize our Faith.
So, in short, YES, Modern Catechesis DOES focus on the WRONG things, for it forgets the purpose if all of it: the only two extremes that really matter: Eternal Life or Eternal Suffering.
We DO have a choice and it has NOTHING to do with politicized extremes. It has EVERYTHING to do with true Faith.
Choose carefully, pray sincerely, and know that Hell is real...and eternal. Know that Heaven is real...and eternal.
God never promised us happiness on earth; he promised us happiness in eternity if we would follow HIM.
Jesus never forgot our souls...He died to save us, body AND soul.
But He left it for us to choose, and left those moral parameters to be offered through His Side and through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Yeah, modern catechesis is wrong; it denies grace, it denies fidelity, and refuses Truth. Most modern catechesis borders heresy.
Why should we, then, be so shocked that so many people are both confused and heterodox in their belief and practice?