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Apologetics or Catechesis?

What do Catholics really believe? In spite of its brevity, this is not a simple question to answer. I recently began attending an apologetics discussion group that I thoroughly enjoy. Each meeting we have the opportunity to explore the depths and roots of an aspect of Catholic doctrine and prepare ourselves to explain this doctrine to others.

Karen Hall wrote something on her blog today that reminded me of my apologetics group.

I love Cardinal Arinze. I do. I'm thrilled at his statements about the Da Vinci Code. I just wish he'd do something about all the blasphemy within the Church while he's on his anti-blasphemy campaign.

When I first began attending the apologetics discussions I realized there are two foci. Some are very intent on answering the allegations and myths propagated by non-Catholics. Some are interested in answering the concerns and misconceptions of those Catholics who have lapsed from the Faith. I realized there is a very fine line between apologetics and catechesis.

My heart leans more towards the catechesis side of the equation. Of course, I am always thrilled to learn of non-Catholics who have searched for the truth and found it in Catholicism. Their faith is strong because they had to actively choose to become Catholic.

That is what is missing for many cradle Catholics. They are passively Catholic. It is something in their background. It bears little relevance to their day-to-day lives. Imagine if we could ignite the fire of Faith in all those nominal Catholics who have drifted away from the Church and the Sacraments?

I wish there was a magic formula for lighting that fire. I know it starts with prayer. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we must reach out to those in need of catechesis. So often we treat eighth grade confirmation as a graduation. It is actually a commencement. It is the beginning of an adult understanding and study of the Faith. It is a life-long process. We need this shouted from the pulpit. We need basic catechesis taught from the pulpit. My current parish is the first one where doctrine such as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the reality of Hell have been topics of homilies. Our pastor tells us over and over that when the Bishop made him pastor, he also made him responsible for our souls. He will have to answer to God if he fails to intervene and allows us to persist in ignorance and sin. Therefore, he will not remain silent if he sees errors in our understanding.

In addition to good preaching we need real catechesis for adults. I am not talking about Bible sharing where we talk about how a verse makes us feel. I don’t mean the “Jesus loves me” touchy feely stuff. I am talking about nuts and bolts information about our Faith. We need to learn all those things our post-Vatican II CCD classes left out. What are the consequences of our Faith? What does being truly Catholic require of us in our family, in our schools, in our jobs, and in our community? The questions are never ending. So too should be the maturation of our Faith.


Ferde Rombola said…
Outstanding, CM. My suggestion is to copy that blog to every archbishop in the country. A good morning's endeavor.


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