Parable of the Paper Cups
Once upon a time, there was a village called “Ville de Soif.” Ville de Soif was located along a river, which was the water source for the whole town. At various times, people came to the river to drink, using their hands. But they didn’t seem to have a way to take water with them when they left. The adults in town busied themselves with work and other activities, but stayed thirsty between their visits to the river.
The children of the village spent more time at the river. They frequently visited with an elder of the village who lived right on the riverbank, a rare adult who was not thirsty all the time. He taught the children how to make origami cups out of paper. The children were excited to have something that could hold water, but when they tried to take water home to their parents, it seemed the paper cups just weren’t strong enough to last. So the adults continued to thirst, and the children continued to get only just a little more water than their parents. It seemed the town was doomed to be chronically thirsty.
As far-fetched as this story might seem, this is exactly the situation we face in adult faith formation in the Church in the United States today. Our culture desperately thirsts for meaning, direction, value, and justice, but the distractions of daily life keep many from going to the source. For those who do come, often the children, we do our best to offer something to satisfy their thirst, but it’s never quite enough, and the “paper cups” our catechists teach them to make often don’t even reach their homes in one piece.
And so our culture continues to thirst: for meaning, for direction, for value, for justice. Our society has become increasingly polarized and unkind. We have forgotten how to dialogue with one another. Our Catholic faith offers us a roadmap for renewing our own lives and the culture around us, but we must drink freely of the living water Jesus offers us before we can share it with others.
How can we get more adults involved in forming their faith, becoming intentional disciples, and thus renewing their families, our parishes, and the world in which we live? Here are some tips for helping parents and other adults form their faith.