Friday, August 21, 2009

Catechizing from the Rites

Yesterday, we had a workshop with Sr. Catherine (Kate) Dooley, OP - a veteran catechist and writer whose passion is liturgical catechesis. She spoke, in part, on the importance of using the full resources of the rites when catechizing children and adults.

Specifically, she referred to the minor rituals in the back of the Rite of Penance, which she showed us how to use in prayer to help people of all ages develop a way to examine their consciences.

It occurred to me after hearing that - how many catechetical leaders and catechists are preparing people for sacraments without ever having read through the ritual books for those sacraments? I suspect this is true for the vast majority! If we don't read about the intention of the sacraments, and know about the underlying theology behind them, how can we know if we are preparing people well? How do we know what resources we are missing by not being familiar with the rite and its accompanying material?

And, more to the point, why do we trust textbook authors and publishers to do this thinking for us? Programs for First Communion and First Reconciliation, as well as Confirmation, vary widely in methodology and focus. A few do catechize at least sometimes from the rite itself, but that is the exception and not the rule. In the case of one Confirmation program that has this focus, the response I got in reviews from parish directors of religious education was largely negative, because this approach was not familiar.

Certainly something to think about. The Rites and their accompanying materials are not just for the celebrations, they are not just for the presiders, but they are also essential for those who are catechizing people in preparation for them. It behooves us to be familiar with them, and not just withthe textbooks that sometimes rely on them.

Apologies for lack of posts

I apologize for the dry period in blogging - grieving has been a somewhat debilitating process... my mind is only just beginning to grasp higher-level concepts again!