Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Good Shepherd and the "Different Drummer"

When I was in high school, I liked to think of myself as intellectually superior. It's one of the hazards of being young. It was the 60's - and on TV, I saw that young people were pushing the envelopes of lifestyles and thought. Even though I lived in a small town far from Hippie havens, I wanted to be that too. Also, I was the nerd kid who wore glasses, never dated until Junior year prom. I was the kid reading The Lord of the Rings during freshman study hall and getting weird looks. I was the kid taking 5 subjects instead of 4. I was going to college.  I didn't (and still don't) do chick flicks.

During that time, I thought Jesus was for sentimental people who weren't smart enough to know better.  (I was raised mixed Protestant with a large dose of Unitarian, seasoned with after-dinner discussions of existentialism with my stepfather, a former minister.)

My personal motto was from Henry David Thoreau: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."  I believed I was meant to do that. I was special. I was different. I abhorred mediocrity and my greatest fear was that I would be "ordinary." I did NOT want to be a sheep.

In college, I continued that. I quickly found a relationship with a like-minded young man (who later became my husband) took as many courses as possible each semester, participated in anti-war protests, went to rock concerts and blues bars, spent lots of time in libraries, read voraciously, spent hours in record stores looking for non-mainstream music. We almost never partied. We were serious students. We went to graduate school and the intellectual distance between me and those from my small town widened. I continued to follow the beat of the "different drummer." We were part of the intellectual elite. We were also unchurched.

Fast-forward to 1986. I had, in the meantime had married my young man, who, not incidentally, was an inactive Catholic. Following the usual formula, I promised to raise any children as Catholics. By 1986, my oldest was in preschool and my latent memories of Protestant Sunday School kicked in - I figured it was time to get my boy in.. and I wanted to learn what he would be learning. Next thing you know, I was in the RCIA and joining the Church. The Shepherd had found a lost sheep. (I had a clear vision of a sheep-hook reaching out and grabbing me at one point early on!)

What I found was a Church (and a Jesus) far different from my expectations. I learned to love the parish community - people of all backgrounds and abilities. I learned that it was OK to be a sheep, if I was in the right flock. I learned that my role on earth was to cooperate with God's grace in "building the kingdom."  I learned about the Social Teaching of the Church:  the dignity of EVERY human person, passion for the poor and downtrodden, advocacy for those who have no voice, opposition to injustice... and I learned that the Christian life was not for milquetoasts or intellectual lightweights. (In the personal hardship of the years that have followed, this has only been reinforced.)

I have learned over the years that Jesus Christ is the different drummer in today's culture. That to be Christian is to be truly counter-cultural. In a world where beliefs about life, marriage, and sin are now regularly challenged by the media, the mainstream culture, politicians and those who make laws, we who follow the teaching of Christ and his Church have become the ones who are seen as outside the pale. Others see us as having antiquated beliefs that must be changed. Pretty much they misunderstand those beliefs - and have beliefs from mainstream Christian churches mixed in with those of conservative, intolerant right-wing Evangelicals who have re-written Christian belief as a political agenda. Readers are, no doubt, familiar with all the issues, as hardly a day goes by when some of them are not in the news.

Today, many years out of high school, I can honestly say that I still follow a different drummer. However, he's not some abstract intellectual ideal. He is a living being, who came as a carpenter from Nazareth, who died and rose for our sins, who loves us unconditionally. He is the Good Shepherd who seeks his lost sheep (as he did me) who must weep at much that he sees in today's world. Our vocation, as his disciples, is to weep, too. But also to follow and be faithful, to likewise seek the lost sheep, even in the face of opposition and adversity. We are sheep, but we also are followers who must take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ to Calvary and beyond, who are called to preach, teach and baptize in the name of the Shepherd. Jesus Christ IS my different drummer - and I follow him gladly...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Seven Conclusions from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference

In my previous 6 posts on this blog, I have shared my notes from the presentations I heard on Thursday and Friday from the speakers at the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein. Here is the link to Part 1. (You can follow the links at the bottom of each post to the next one.)

So, what did I learn from the conference?  I continue to ponder many of the ramifications, but here are a few thoughts.

1. Liturgical catechesis is crucially important to helping people connect fully with Christ to develop a personal relationship. His presence and action in the sacraments is the major way we can encounter and experience him. We need to help people bridge the public worship experience with their prayer life and private experience of Christ.

2. Liturgical catechesis is not about us. It is about Christ. Not what we do, but what Christ does in the liturgy and the sacraments. Learning about our role in the liturgy is only a tool to open ourselves to the grace and actions of God.

3. We must combat liturgical boredom by putting our best into the liturgy, and by helping people understand it. Many young people leave and don't come back today in part because of boredom with the liturgy.

4. Liturgical catechesis is crucial for formation of children and teens, but even more so for their parents, who are the ones who bring them to Mass and encourage practice of the faith. (So many people in the audience pointed out that issue, and presenters agreed.)

5. Catechesis on the symbols, words and actions of the rites should not be put off until the rehearsals for sacrament participants, but interwoven through their preparatory catechesis - and indeed through all catechesis. (In this, current textbooks are pretty much inadequate, so this requires a catechist well-versed in the liturgy.)

6.  The ability to interweave catechetical presentation of doctrinal points with examples from Catholic liturgical practice is an important skill we need to encourage in catechetical leaders and catechists. (Lex orandi, Lex credendi, Lex vivendi)

7.  So much needs to be done. Who is going to do this training and how? Where are the materials and workshops?  (A mission for the Liturgical Institute, perhaps?)  There is much work to do here - and I intend to be an ongoing part of it through the venues I have available to me: my diocesan ministry, this blog, my Liturgical Catechist website, social media and more....

Part 1 - James Pauley keynote
Part 2 - Fr. Douglas Martis
Part 3 - Petroc Willey
Part 4 - James Pauley
Part 5 - Jim Beckman
Part 6: William Keimig - RCIA

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Notes from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference Part 6 - William Keimig

Here is the 6th and final installment of my notes from the Liturgical Catechesis conference at the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein. This is from the talk by William Keimig, St. Mary's of Piscataway, Clinton, MD

"The RCIA Process: The Church's Measure for Liturgical Catechesis"

Common Errors
  • Diabolica division between liturgists and catechists 
  • Liturgy is "used" becoming the servant of catechesis
  • Liturgy does not determine your catechetical emphasis
  • No Rite book nearby means no exploration of the liturgy
  • Thinking that people have sufficiently-sticking conversations through teaching only: no vision that prayer and liturgy are the glue of conversion; they stick you to God.
People outside the church think our liturgical practice is just weird. They can't imagine that is the way we show love to God.

Liturgy models utterance- Love longs to share itself
Liturgy models sacrifice - Love longs not to count the cost
Liturgy models surrender - Love longs to trust absolutely
Liturgy models dialogue - Love longs to speak to the beloved

All of these elements need to be present in our catechesis:
Lex orandi - Liturgical
Lex credendi - Catechetical
Lex vivendi - Pastoral

Catechecal component
Introduces worship - Gives a first exposure to sacred space
Incarnates worship - Explains signs, gestures and beauty
Informs worship - offers a compelling vision into the myster
Inculturates worship - Bestows orthodoxy, authenticated by Mother Church
Invites worship - Points all doctrine to the Story and tot the love that never ends (see Catechesii Tradendae 23)

We need to understand liturgy well enough that we become able to mentor others into loving the liturgy. We need to know why liturgy is an authentic need and why the liturgy is the center and soul of the striving for perfection. Cf. Fr. Cyprian Vagaggini, OSB. Liturgy is relational- not mechanical. To strive for perfection means you want to experience the love beyond all telling and total intimacy. That is what is being offered in the liturgy, along with the means to attain it.

Pastoral formation (fellowship of the group and their hospitality, witnessing and sharing of opinion) and catechetical formation are ABOUT Christ but only the liturgy OFFERS Christ.

READ Aidan Kavanaugh OSB: "A Rite of Passage" the experience of how a catchumen was prepared in the early church.

Lectionary-based Catechesis
During the period of Purification and Enlightenment there should be no more doctrine but a spiritual preparation for the sacraments. Mystagogy teaches from the rites.

*Lectionary-based catechesis is just wrong except in early Lent and Mystagogy. It assumes a mystagogical framework. For a full explanation, see his article in Appendix IV of The RCIA Catechist's Manual (Liturgical Training Publications)

Teaching a doctrinal point through the liturgy. 
Example: Purgatory. We offer every Mass for the departed souls and they are present at every Mass. That takes teaching about it from sterile doctrine to a lived reality.

Benefits of catechumenal catechesis that is authentically liturgical:
  • Fosters more genuine and deep conversions to God and His calling on individual lives
  • Allows for more frequent and more full appropriation of grace
  • More fully expressive of the Church nature 
  • Fosters docility to the ancient ways of the Church
  • Mitigates polemic tendencies regarding the teachings of the Church
  • Helps the parish community grow in its communal and liturgical life
  • Helps people to grasp the liturgical life of the Church in a daily pragmatic way
  • Creates a greater diversity of ministries for differing gifts and abilities of parishioners
  • Assists in vocational awareness due to the regular focus on saints who have lived fully their vocations
  • The ordered nature and paschal focus of the liturgical year implies and demands systemic catechesis
  • Provides more diverse means of approach for children; in better accord with the learning types of children
  • Gives people a chance to experience the priest's liturgical ministry more frequently and in a less-distant setting
  • Because the liturgical year forms the context of parish life, people become that much more integrated into parish life
  • Helps catechesis accord with the adult learning model better than more didactic and academic forms of teaching
  • Demands more people (sponsors, godparents, team) to be more liturgically aware and in tune with the cycles of the Church's life
Dangers of a parish that lacks a liturgically centered vision of the RCIA process
  • The catechumenate is viewed as unnecessarily effort-intensive, or it becomes "canned"
  • Doctrine is explained without reference to Jesus. His simple call is lost in the details
  • Not expecting serious progress; or not having patience with how Jesus woos a soul
  • Liturgical rites become celebrations of community entirely, not encounters with Christ
  • The trust given to catechists and leaders never translates into trusting Jesus
  • Forgiveness explained poorly can result in seeing Jesus' mercy as weakness or lenience
Questions to discuss in a parish setting to improve
  • How do we prepare RCIA participants and the parish for the major liturgical rites?
  • How do we reflect on these rites after they take place?
  • How often and how well do we make available the various minor rites
  • If we dismiss the catechumens from Sunday Mass, how often do we do so? If not, how can we change things to offer this opportunity?
  • What takes place at Breaking Open the Word (Reflection on the Word?) is it just another teaching session, or perhaps just a sharing of opinions?
  • What happens during Lent? Is Lent a time for interior reflection or primarily catechetical instruction?
  • Do we celebrate all of the Scrutinies, the Presentations, and the preparation Rites on Holy Saturday?
  • What is our Easter Vigil like? How many parishioners attend? Do the elect and the candidates feel welcomed and at home by their experience of the parish at the Vigil?
  • Are sponsors and godparents deeply involved before and after the Easter Vigil? What sort of formation do they receive?
What should a parish see in its neophytes over time that gives evidence as to whether the RCIA process has been successful?
  • Do your neophytes really feel they have a need for the Mass?
  • Do your neophytes really have a desire for Jesus that is restless for more?
  • Do your neophytes really desire to help others get to Heaven?
  • Do your neophytes really have thankful hearts?
  • Do your neophytes really need God in daily life?
  • Do your neophytes really desire to sin less each day? 
Other suggestions
  • Use guided meditations on prayers, ritual texts, Scripture, Eucharistic prayers, the Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, the Communion Rite, litanies, Lord/s prayer, other well-known prayers
  • Tour the church, sacristy, diocesan cathedral, local monasteries or retreat houses, local shrines, other Catholic churches, an Eastern Rite Catholic church, a Catholic cemetery
  • Use different prayer forms - Adoration, Liturgy of the Word, Silent prayer alone - indoors, outdoors, in small groups, in a chapel - Explain and offer Masses for different intentions, explain and pray Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations of the Cross, Stations of Light, the Angelus, the Regina Caeli, a litany, pray by laying on hands, pray a novena for a specific intention, pray in Latin, Sing psalms, Sing hymns, sing common Mass setttings, personal silent meditation on Scripture, an event in Church history, a saint's life or writings, a prayer text, a hymn text, a poem with suitable themes.
  • Other creative elements: walk through the Mass,through the Bible or a specific Gospel, through a missalette, through one of the Liturgy of the Hours (Morning or Evening Prayer, for instance), walk though Examination of Conscience, demonstrate how to go to Confession, how to receive Communion, how to offer a thanksgiving prayer after Communion, explain and hold a Passover Seder, explain Catholic objects, vessels, sacramentals, statues, medals, devotional items; do a virtual or video tour of Catholic places, watch a video of a major Catholic event watch a movie on a biblical story, the life of a saint, a Catholic theme.
An exercise in liturgical catechesis:
Take 5 common doctrines, and come up with (in a single sentence for each) an ear-catching proclamation of how each doctrine connects to the sacred liturgy. Do not limit this to articulating connections to the Mass only, but also the broader liturgical reality that the Church understands.

Previous Posts in this series
Part 1 - James Pauley keynote
Part 2 - Fr. Douglas Martis
Part 3 - Petroc Willey
Part 4 - James Pauley
Part 5 - Jim Beckman

Notes from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference Part 5: Jim Beckman (Youth)

Here is the 4th installment of my notes from the Liturgical Catechesis conference at the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein. This is from the talk by Jim Beckman, of the Augustine Institute.

"Liturgy's Vital Role in Discipleship Ministry with Teenagers"

At Augustine Institute - he is the practical guy with 30 years of parish YM. That means he often doesn't fit in with the academics and has to tell them that in the real world "that will never work" He believes that when students graduate each should be a "spiritual multiplier" - someone who evangelizes makes disciples

The current generation and statistics lead us to ask what should we do. His handout quotes "Joy of the Gospel", GDC 53 (Conversion and personal encounter with Jesus Christ) and cites Sherry Weddell's Three Convergent Spiritual Journeys. (Ecclesial journey into the Church through reception of Sacraments, Journey of active practice -attending Mass, participating in the life and mission of the Church; and personal interior journey of a lived relationship with Christ.

Young people today don't connect with the usual structures (Pope Francis)

Story... (Teenager - long pursuit conversion experience - helped by personal mentoring, relationship)

Why is the liturgy so important to discipleship? Because it is about the stuff of our lives.

(See his chapter in Sherry Weddell's Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples)

The "myth of youth ministry" is that we take teens away from their parents and other adults and put them with older teens... It actually should be more like Emmaus - we adults go with them where they are going.. And do mystagogy with them in the midst of their stuff.

We need mentors! We need disciples to disciple people. We are throwing people through classes but if we don't model discipleship as for them, a they don't get it.

Four earmarks of good youth ministry to youth for discipling.
Mutual responsibility
Customization - not program

Engage parents
Form adult leaders well
Set up mentor relationships for teens (use their sponsors for sacraments)
Point teens to sacramental life of the Church
Small groups help make connections in ministry.
Large group activity becomes the small groups coming together.
Use the 4 areas of Formation: intellectual spiritual, human and pastoral
Stay true to the earmarks of a Discipleship approach. - intimacy, mutual responsibility, customization, accountability
Share sacramental life with whole parish IN COMMUNITY. Don't separate the youth....have them experience shared prayer, shared fellowship, shared learning, shared mission (See Acts 2.)

Pope Francis (in Joy of the Gospel) - wants a "missionary option" rather than a structure based on self-preservation. Requires renewal of structures to get people in position to respond to Christ.

Part 6: William Keimig - RCIA

Notes from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference Part 4: James Pauley, Practical Considerations

Here is the 4th installment of my notes from the Liturgical Catechesis conference at the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein. This is from the second talk by James Pauley, University of St. Francis Steubenville.

"Liturgical Catechesis: Practical Considerations"

Necessary skills for a rich liturgical life that a catechist needs to have and teach:
1. Ability to disengage from distractions. 
We need to quiet ourselves. He teaches catechists that students have a right to the full prayer of the Church. They need to learn prayer with scripture, Liturgy of the Hours and other deeper forms of prayer. Students arrive in religious education class distracted. In the first 10 minutes of a class we need to get them away from their distraction.

2. Ability to unite our minds and hearts to the words we pray.
Where do catechists go for content? Textbooks, the Catechism, but also need to go to the rites of the Church. The first task of liturgical catechesis is to explain the words of the Mass. So, draw from the rites and preserve a disposition of wonder and awe. Especially important for those preparing for sacraments. Don't wait until the rehearsal to share with them the words of the rite. (We often do that for Confirmation, Matrimony...)

The second time we should use the words of the rites is in ALL other catechesis. Use the words of the readings or the Missal or ritual prayers. Example: when teaching about sin, use Ash Wednesday readings or the words of absolution from the Rite of Penance.

3. Ability to see what God is doing in the liturgical actions.
Reflect on the fruits and effects. You don't need to cover everything about a sacrament but be sure to cover the effects and do it well.

What does God do in a sacrament? Look at the words of the rite. They tell us exactly what we are asking God to do. Example: the Epiclesis in new marriage rite draft calls the Spirit to pour out God's love into the couple's hearts.

See CCC 1624 (matrimony) - grace builds on nature
CCC 1642 - what happens when Christ dwells with them... human love becomes supernaturalized

4. The ability to cooperate with sacramental grace so that a change is effected in how we live.
Liturgy is expected to lead us into metanoia. We are to be transformed to share Christs love.

Two principles
1. the liturgy is a lifelong source of catechesis
2. There is a great need for all of us to be more responsive to the grace we receive in the sacraments.

We need to be mentored how to live the sacramental life, cooperating with the grace of sacraments. Example, we should be doing Mystagogy for marriage. That would include testimony, mentoring...

(From his handout:)
REFLECTION:  What for me, does attunement to God's presence and action in liturgy look like?  How can I put myself more frequently in that position? How can I invite those I teach into this place?

Part 5: Jim Beckman - Youth

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Notes from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference Part 3 - Petroc Willey

Here is the 3rd installment of my notes from the Liturgical Catechesis conference at the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein. This is from the talk by Petroc Willey, University of St. Francis Steubenville.

"From the Sign to the Mystery: Foundations for a Liturgical Catechesis"

Liturgy is about seeing the invisible. We need to see the Cross. That's the mystery.

The pedagogy of God
The key to all catecheisis is the CCC.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not just a dictionary but a tool. We look at how it presents things. The methodology is the he pedagogy of God.  Pedagogy is not methods.

God communicates himself to man gradually (CCC first articles.  God prepares us for revelation of Christ in stages. 

The Ladder to Heaven
This is illustrated in Guigo the Carthusian's book about Jacob's ladder (La Scala Paradiso) This is a vision for catechesis. The ladder is Christ himself. His feet are on the ground and his head is in heaven. Catechesis is about trying to understand the ladder, but not about leaving behind the visible to seek the invisible. We have to love what we can see to learn to love what you cannot see. The ladder needs to be held more firmly the higher up we go. We need to move in stages.

New evangelization is for the baptized who think they know Christ but really don't. They who have not heard proclamation of the gospel. People are sent to us out of order. They are often completely lost. They have no foundation for the ladder.

3 stages/foundations:
From the visible to the invisible
From the sign to the thing signified
From sacraments to mysteries

Pope John Paul II Faith and Reason. The sapiental reason.
We can know reality
We can understand mystery
We can see meaning

Recovering a vision of the sacred
Wordsworth's "Ode on Intimations of Immortality" - once, in childhood, he knew the things of heaven, but now in adulthood that is forgotten. Catechesis is about recovering this vision. The more we know the sign, the more we can see the reality. The more support for the ladder. It is about what did the sign mean in Christ's life not what it means in our cultural understanding. We are trying to understand the language of Gods love.

The human being is a microcosm of entire universe. We are visible and invisible. We are the ladder and we have visible and invisible in us. So, we need to recover what it is to see that. When we do that, we see that baptism really IS washing and that the anointing with oil is our anointing as priest, prophet and king. The CCC says our words do reach reality.

We need the anthropology to understand the human person and what they have in place before we can catechize. We need to help people find the ground that the ladder rests on first. Most people live in a flat universe. They don't have reality. Need to help them recover reality of created things and understand the depths.

Q and A
Q. Should children be the evangelizers? We must relearn to see the world like children. Openness, wonder - yes, children can teach parents.

Q. What does readiness for sacraments look like and do we take the time to discern? When someone approaches the church they are led by God. The answer is not "Come back later when it's time." The answer is "I will not let you go." ... And then to develop the process for them.

Q. Are metaphysics important and how do we teach it in a culture that doesn't understand? Yes. We need to teach a poetic imagination and a sense of the sacred.

Part 4: James Pauley (Second Presentation)

Notes from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference Part 2 - Fr. Douglas Martis

Here is the second installment of my notes from the Liturgical Catechesis conference at the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein. Day 2 began with reflections by Fr. Douglas Martis, director of the Institute.

"Recovering the Meaning of the Liturgical Act and the Significance of Active Participation"

The problem
Both post-conciliar catechesis and liturgical movement suffered from the same failures of misinterpretation of the intentions of the Council. (Someday he wants to write a book called Liturgy or Lip Service)

Sacrosanctum Consilium says that Liturgy should "normally require no explanation" but after Vatican II that was interpreted to mean no explanation at all was needed (and resulted in watering down). We have forgotten Tertullians phrase "Christians are made, not born." We need to commit ourselves to help the faithful understand the liturgy.

It's time for gnosticism and religious arrogance to stop. We don't need snobs. We need people who are committed to teach the faithful

Lambert Beaudoin - Belgian - 1910s said "we are the aristocrats of the liturgy. We must democratize. We must transform.... Attendance at Mass must become active participation. Early leaders of the liturgical movement saw the liturgy as the key the thing to get right. From that would come right living, social justice and more. Liturgy as source and summit should not be a cliche. We go to it to we learn who we are. It's all there. We just have to see it. We must work harder today to retrieve the meaning today than we did in the past.

Sacrament is the visible sign. The water in baptism is important the sacramental world depends on it. We have tended to neglect the signs and gestures... Need to understand that the Res is the reality - the invisible sign.

Catechesis after the Council did not understand the importance of repetition. It forms you. The church's prayer depends on repetition. Liturgy requires discipline. The Roman liturgy is written for those who are in it for the long haul.

We have got to understand what the liturgy is for:
1. To praise God. the liturgical act has got to be conscious
2. To pray for the world

We have to understand that the public liturgy is first and foremost Christ's prayer to the father.... I need to put myself IN him.
How do we participate in this prayer?

Romano Guardini: "How can the act of walking become a religious act? A procession is a retinue walking through Gods land."

It's wrong to say "I don't get anything out of the Mass? You are not supposed to! That's not what it's for.

Concepts for reflection
Repetition: When you feel like you are doing the same thing over and over. Repetition in the Mass is not boring or pointless

The purpose of liturgy: Ephesians: "you are strangers and aliens no more but fellow citizens of the household of God" The Greek words "para oikos" used are same ones that give us "parishioner" - but it actually means "outside the house"... So - we are not IN the house. Instead, we belong in heaven. The liturgy is a reminder that we belong in heaven, aisles mean pilgrimage - progress toward the holy. (Circular churches don't do that because we look at each other.) The heavenly city is our destination. Communion does not mean union , it actually means we are within the city walls. "Municipal" comes from the same root. So, we need to teach that the Mass brings us closer to our home in the Heavenly City.

Part 3: Petroc Willey

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Notes from the Liturgical Catechesis and the New Evangelization Conference - Part 1- James Pauley Keynote

I have had requests to share my notes from the conference here at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Here are the cleaned-up  notes from tonight's presentation by Dr. James Pauley of University of St. Francis, Steubenville.

"Today's Declining Sacramental Practice: A Catechetical Vision for Revitalization"

We need to mentor those we teach to help them encounter Christ in the liturgy where he is present. The challenge is decreasing sacramental practice. The cure is liturgical catechesis.

Quotes Forming Intentional Disciples. Only 48% believe personal relationship with God is possible. he also quotes p. 39 as Sherry Weddell's "Thesis" - "We can no longer depend on rites of passage or cultural, peer or familial pressure to bring the majority back... cultural Catholicism is dead as a retention strategy...."

What are we to do? How can liturgical catechesis evolve? Need to place primary emphasis on fact
that sacraments are encounters with God.

If kids today are bored they reject the experience. Greatest crisis in church today is liturgical boredom

Pope John Paul II On Catechesis in our Time (23) . "it is in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for our transformation... It is the duty of pastors to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite and enriched by it...." otherwise we have hollow ritualism.

"The more we are convicted that the sacraments are encounters with God with supernatural effects, the more interesting they become to the contemporary person."  It is essential to have good liturgy.

We have tended in catechesis (1960's -80's) to focus on what we do instead of what God does. We need to make evident the supernatural nature of liturgy.

Three points:

1. Through liturgical catechesis we can prepare people more intentionally for full conscious and active participation.
Active participation is "uniting ourselves with God" Pamela Jackson - An Abundance of Graces

How ? It starts at home with the parents. Stories of successful moments with children should be shared and support is needed. We need to focus on family formation.

2. Mentor them in the ability to see and hear in a sacramental way.

See Mystical Body, Mystical Voice, Martis et al. p. 67.

CCC 1075 Liturgical catechesis proceeds from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the sacrament to the mystery.
 Is that too theological? No. Sophia Cavaletti (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) said children understand mystery.

The catechist is more important than the textbook. (He recommends to his students that it should be 80% catechist, 20% book)

3. Uncover for them how liturgy makes accessible Christ's gift of himself in the paschal mystery.

How do we respond? We give ourselves back. Worship is self-donation. Timothy O'Malley (Notre Dame) - "Our entire selves are joined to Christ's sacrifice to the Father as we give ourselves away in prayer in response to the God who first loved us. "

Pope Francis: the more we unite ourselves to Christ the more we come out of ourselves.

Apologies and an Update

I have to apologize for my absence from this space of late. I have so many other projects afoot... but I honestly think it's all part of God's plan for me and the ways I am privileged to serve the Church.

A few months ago, I participated in an abbreviated version of the Siena Institute's "Called and Gifted" process. Unsurprisingly, my top charisms include music, writing and teaching. However, it has been in the discernment it has become clear there is a reason that writing (and teaching) projects seem to be finding me. God wants me to write for the good of the church, which is the purpose, of course, of having been given a charism. All of this is not about me, or about pointless busyness but about the action of the Holy Spirit.

If you find my lack of blogging disturbing, here is where else to find me... all evidence that God has a purpose for me.

  • My column. You may know that since the first of the year, I have had the privilege of serving as the regular catechetical columnist for Ministry & Liturgy magazine. I certainly did not seek this. The editor came to me. In the most recently published issue, I co-wrote an article on technology for children's faith formation, with Dan Gonzalez, a fellow M&L author and Catholic app developer. (see below)
  • Mass booklet. Picked up another project just this week: a booklet on the Mass for children, also from LTP. Again, they called me.
  • Blog contribution. Ongoing: my work as a partner blogger on Loyola Press's DRE Connect migrated over to Joe Paprocki's "Catechists' Journey" blog, which has now become an group project.
  • More blog contribution. I also continue to contribute occasionally to Sister Caroline Cerveny's group blog, "Catechesis 2.0"
  • (Another possible book project. In the proposal stage, it's been lurking for months... more later, if it comes to fruition.)
Other projects that have "found" me recently:
  • Beta testing. I have, over the past 6 months or so, been beta-testing and assisting with liturgical definitions for the marvelous new Catholic Words & Games, recently released by Dan Gonzalez of Agnus, LLC. That spawned the additional M&L article mentioned above, which in turn, led to
  • Pinterest boards.  I have created and curated considerable content (how's that for alliteration?) for a new group of liturgical catechesis boards. One on resources for teaching the Mass to children (co-curated by Dan Gonzalez to accompany the article we co-wrote) and several on liturgical seasons. These boards and their pins seem to have generated quite a bit of interest. 
  • A webinar. I am preparing for an August webinar for Liturgy Training Publications on getting families to Mass. The webinar coordinator came to me with this suggestion.  Again, not my idea.
  • Website assistance. I am now occasionally assisting with the  21st Century Catholic Evangelization website, a project of the NCCL Evangelization Committee, finding and posting content.
  • Website management. I have updated and continue to expand my personal website: The Liturgical Catechist to interface with the new Pinterest boards and to keep content up to date for seasons, symbols, sacraments and other topics.
  • Observing: lurking  and watching the latest session of Digital Disciple Boot Camp - occasionally participating, as I observe what participants are learning. 
  • Social networking.  my personal Facebook and Google+ pages, along with The Liturgical Catechist and pages for my office and the diocese. There may be a new page on its way for another organization I am involved with. Stay tuned. 
  • Semi-work-related presentations. one for catechists in November on Advent, one in February for the Chicago Catechetical Conference, some local deanery presentations for leaders.
  • My Real Job. And, of course, full-time work for the Diocese of Joliet Religious Education Office - a privilege that certainly keeps me occupied!
  • Volunteering at the parish.  Teaching Confirmation and helping with music and liturgy ministries... always.
I'm sure there is more I am forgetting. The only thing I have been sitting back on a bit of late is facilitating online classes for University of Dayton VLCFF, from which I am taking a short hiatus due to low enrollment in my section this cycle. That, too, was not my doing, but I look at it as clearing space for other priorities. 

Yes, I am busy. Yes, it's good. So is God. All the time.