In the last issue we looked at the use of St. Augustine’s story of salvation as a unifying context for catechesis. Here we take a look at another of his catechetical contributions: the role of the theological virtues in teaching for conversion.
Ten years ago, I attended a debate between a Lutheran minister and an atheistic philosophy professor. The venue was a small theatre that seated about 300 people, but by the time it began, it was certainly pressing the limits of the fire code. People were seated in the aisles, behind the stage, and even out in the foyer.
The gentlemen took their places at their respective podiums and the Lutheran minister spoke first, saying ‘Those of you who believe in God, please pray that we do not have a fire!’ This drew much applause from half of the audience. He continued, ‘And for those of you who do not believe in God, well, you better just hope like hell.’
And thus, within his first two sentences, he had set forth the key theme of his presentation, not to mention the distinguishing feature of Christianity itself: namely, we are a people who believe, hope and love. Without Christ, we have no life.