Catechetical Sunday, Sept. 15

Not so long ago we lived in a world of “Christendom,” where social structures supported the Faith. Religion thrive, and Americans had “Faith in Faith,” as Ken Woodward said[1].

  • 98% of Americans said they believed in God.
  • In the 1950’s, Americans built more churches and synagogues than at any other time.
  • Regular Sunday worship was the norm.
  • Protestant Sunday school was a national institution.
  • By 1960 half of school-age Catholic children were in parochial school. Seminaries thrived.
    • Catholic seminarians were full. (In the 1930’s and 40’s it was not unusual for dioceses to not accept seminarians because they were full[2].)
    • Protestant seminaries picked from among their best and brightest students. In the 1050’s and 60’the FCC required broadcasters to provide free airtime for religious programs [3]

That world is gone. We can grieve about it. We can complain about it, but it’s not our world today. It’s not the world that our children are growing up in today.

So, what do we do differently?  Unfortunately not very much. And we need to. What we are doing—not just in this parish—but everywhere needs to be looked at.  Some of the things we need to do are:

  1. We need to understand the world as it is. We need to know more of the world our kids live in. They are surrounded by social media: music, Facebook, chat rooms. Drugs are easily available and many more things.
    1. Our world is complex. That means our understanding of the Faith needs to be complex. It needs more than an elementary school level.
    2. As adults in the U.S. we face many issues. Our bishops have written pastoral letters on the issues of:
      1. The U.S. Economy The U.S. Economy—Justice for All
      2. War and Peace and the use of nuclear arms. The Challenge of Peace—God’s Promise and Our Response
  1. Always Our Children
  2. Immigration Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey to Hope
  3. Racism: Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love — A Pastoral Letter Against Racism

These are the issues that we as parents and adult face. Our bishops believe that they have enough moral significance that they should teach what our Faith has to say about them.

If we do not help them to understand these issues from a Catholic perspective, if our Faith has nothing to say about them, why would they stay in the Church?

  1. We have to understand that learning about Faith is a life-long process. Our children need to learn all through school, and we adults need to continue learning.
    1. Learning just enough to make First Communion and Confirmation is not enough.
  2. Religious education is not about learning to receive a sacrament. It is about becoming life-long Catholics ready to live our Faith in a complex world.

Today we will commission those people who are helping us with our religious education program. We are grateful for their work and efforts. May God complete the good work He has begun in them.

[1] Woodward, Kenneth L. Getting Religion (p. 1). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

[2] Fr. Elmer Rupp, C.S.C. told me he came to Holy Cross because the Diocese of Toledo said that they did not have any more room. There were several priests in the Diocese of Austin who came from Boston; Boston would not accept them because they had no room.

 

[3] Ibid., p. 346

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