Articles Under: Adult Faith Formation

(Spanish translation of this article available here. ) One of the marks of contemporary experience seems to be a widespread sense of brokenness, a sort of heaviness of being. Therefore, one of the least debated claims of Christianity is that we need healing, both personal and societal. Social analysts repeatedly look for the causes of this individual and collective discontent. While there are cultural factors that contribute to postmodern dis-ease, Christian theology has always offered a root cause for humanity’s discontent: original sin that we inherit and the personal sins that we commit. If sin were the end of the... Read more
Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Buddha and Confucius and Lao Tzu all gave us their minds; Christ gave us his body. They all tried to save the world from ignorance by their philosophies; Christ saved the world from sin and death and hell by his body and blood—both on the cross and in the Eucharist. Christ said, “Come unto me.” Buddha said, “Look not to me, look to my dharma, my teaching.” The others said, “I teach the truth,” but Christ said, “I AM the truth.” When we receive the Eucharist, we eat the Truth. Christ is the meaning... Read more
The distress has been palpable. Important voices within the Church decry clericalism as the cause of the current scandal. Others point to the Church’s teaching concerning sexuality not being lived or taught with clarity. Still others describe a lack of authentic conversion, that many of our leaders are not allowing the grace of Christ to bring them to repentance and true holiness. While each of these diagnoses is accurate in particular cases, I’m sure, there is another dimension of this crisis that is not frequently discussed. It concerns us catechists closely. By its nature, this scandal undermines faith in the... Read more
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The catechesis of adults is one of the great catechetical challenges in this time of the New Evangelization. This is a particularly difficult and unique challenge because, as we are all keenly aware, many of the adults in our parish pews are poorly catechized and are not only in great need of authentic and systematic catechesis but are also in need of a evangelization, or a presentation of the basic Gospel message. St. John Paul II addresses this reality in Catechesi Tradendae when he refers to many adult Catholics as “quasi-catechumens.” He reminds us that adult catechesis today needs to... Read more
There is a scene in the film Good Will Hunting where Sean (Robin Williams) and Will (Matt Damon) share a pivotal conversation on a bench overlooking a swan-filled lake. The week before, Will quickly and incisively interprets a painting that Sean had created and hung in his office. As Sean says to the younger Will: “You presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine and ripped my [bleeping] life apart.” Will Hunting is a transcendent kind of genius with limitless intellectual abilities and who seemingly already knows everything except for one truly necessary thing: he... Read more
As the horrors of World War II were unfolding in Europe, a certain parish in Krakow with a thriving youth ministry was particularly hard hit. Of the dozen or so Salesian priests who served there, all but two were arrested and removed to Nazi concentration camps. With a parish full of young people who were being traumatized on a daily basis, how could they possibly pick up the pieces? The man who stepped in to fill the gap was a layman named Jan. He was not an obvious pick. Besides his already intense personality, he had stomach problems and a... Read more
This article is the first of a two-part discussion of an area of critical importance for those working in any ministry setting—clergy or laity—whose interactions with others require mentoring skills, evangelical hospitality, ongoing pastoral interactions in the course of catechetical work, small group facilitation, parenting, nurturing, and intercessory prayer outreach. This first article addresses pastoral accompaniment’s fundamental relation to good catechetics. The second article will explore practical and creative ways to implement such formation in ministry settings. “I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time,... Read more
What does it mean to learn the Catholic Faith? Certainly there are names and historical periods that are important. Essential revealed truths must be understood. This is so because it is God’s revelation that has been entrusted to the Church, a revelation that all the baptized have a right and a need to hear and understand over a lifetime. There is a story to grasp, that of salvation history and our particular place in it. But it is quite possible, of course, for these things to be learned “at a distance,” as a string of doctrines and precepts that are... Read more