Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Motivation for Adult Faith Formation: Juan Diego's Catechist

Today is the feast of St. Juan Diego, famous for his interaction with Our Lady of Guadalupe. This humble, faithful man, who worked in the fields and as a mat-maker, used to walk barefoot 14 miles every Saturday and Sunday (for 3-and-half hours!) to receive instruction on the faith. Later, after the death of his wife, he moved in with his uncle to a place only 9 miles away from Tenochtitlan, where he went for Mass and catechesis.

Since parish leaders today can barely motivate the average Catholic adult to cross the street for adult faith formation, it strikes me that his catechist must have been amazing for him to want to walk that far to hear about Jesus Christ.

Certainly, today's American Catholic adults for the most part are not poor, and probably not very humble. They have much to occupy their time and on weekends are more likely to seek entertainment and relaxation rather than enlightenment. The key to the kind of evangelization that elicits a real hunger for Christ and his community continues for the most part to elude us, although at least we are talking about it.

Juan Diego's instructor must have been one heck of a catechist!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hashtag Advent Calendar - Spiritual Discipline or One of Life's Little Indulgences?

This morning, I noticed that #adventcalendar is trending on Google+.

Since it takes thousands of posts from all over the world using a hashtag to cause something to "trend," I was curious, so I checked out the posts. As I scrolled through the first 50 or so entries, I saw not one mention of Jesus. Not one. What I saw were references to "countdown to Christmas." The advent calendars depicted, whether homemade or commercially produced, were almost all of the sort where one gets a small reward - a little toy or a piece of chocolate - every day.  Not one with a Bible verse, story or biblical figure.  In short, advent without Jesus.

Some of these "advent calendars" were from companies with daily prize giveaways - one even advertised their giveaway app to spread Christmas joy with prizes ranging from gift cards to a Kindle or a TV. Commercialization pure and simple...

There is even one from a real estate agency, showing a ready-to-move-in house for each day! Or, you could win a cruise from a cruise company. It makes sense that the hashtag is #adventcalendar with a small "a."  This is a totally self-indulgent and consumer-oriented secular activity related to waiting for the big gifting day. It's about getting stuff as you wait to get stuff - or it's another advertising ploy. (Oh, and over on Twitter, a hashtag #adventcalendarproblems has emerged for those disappointed with their daily result!)

On the bright side, briefly, earlier today, #Advent (with a capital "A") was trending as well, but has since dropped off the list. Entries under that have some of the secularized calendars, but many more references to Jesus and spirituality, so there is some hope that shreds of the original Advent traditions remain in some quarters. And, as Martha Stewart always says, that's a GOOD thing!