In our house we initiated a ‘spill of the day’ when the children were young. At the beginning, it seemed that every time we sat down to eat dinner, somebody would spill their milk. Never failed. We would fret and fume, jump up and get a sponge and go through the mop up. Finally it dawned on us that this was an inevitable part of life with 4 young children. So the next time it occurred (as in the next night after this realization), Bob and I just called out “SPILL OF THE DAY!” and grabbed a sponge and wiped it up. The children went from a ‘deer in the head-lights’ look upon spilling, to a ‘relax, this is life’ look. No one was ever again surprised, embarrassed or ashamed at a difficulty that just so happens to be part of life. We simply muddled through with a sigh, a smile and a means to deal with it. Today, even though young adults; when there is a spill, the kids will call out ‘SPILL OF THE DAY!!’ and laugh. (This can get a bit of attention in restaurants…)
It occurred to me today that this is similar to something our Lord has been trying to tell us all along. In Matthew 13:24-30, He tells the story about the weeds being sown among the wheat. Both grow together until the final harvest when the weeds will finally be pulled up and thrown into the fire. The wheat has to just get used to, and deal with, weeds.
In fact, throughout all of the gospels, Jesus reminds his disciples that they will be hated, ridiculed, persecuted and more – until the end of time.
Sounds pretty inevitable to me – kinda like a ‘spill of the day’.
If we look back at history, this has been the story of Christianity from the beginning. Even in cultures that accepted Christianity – as America once did – there were always other parts of the world that did not. The people who lived there were not exactly living harassment free lives.
So the dates change, the nations change, the people change, the actual circumstances change – but the reality remains the same. Our Lord was not kidding – there has been, is now, and will always be hate, ridicule, persecution and more.
So too, our ‘spill of the day’; families change, children change, circumstances change – but when you get a table full of kids together – there WILL be a ‘spill of the day’.
The sooner we get used to this fact, the sooner we will simply deal with each spill – AND each attack on our faith – with a sigh, a smile, and a means to deal with it – patiently. Because no matter how many times you mop up the latest attack; another WILL break out again…
Guaranteed - kinda like a 'spill of the day'.
Two to three years ago we heard the words, "New Evangelization", except for those who heard it at first mention by St. John Paul II. For many of us though, including myself as I am a re-vert, we just heard it. The Catholic Church has suddenly been tasked with a mission: New Evangelization...all over the world.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) is part of the playing field and since becoming a director of religious education, I have heard everything from "CCD is a failed program" to "let us celebrate St. Pius X on his feast day and be grateful for the program he implemented in the Catholic Church: CCD."
Two years ago my team and I took up the challenge of figuring out what works best in a CCD program for meeting one of the great needs in the New Evangelization: catechizing that age group of 35 to 65, the "lost generations" of good catechesis. A parent catechetical program was implemented that not only works but is producing immediate fruit "found in the confessionals".
What is this parent catechetical program?
But why mandate adult faith formation and call it "parent catechesis"? Our separated brothers and sisters do not do it, they merely evangelize and invite, and they are bringing people in by the droves! Mandating coerces the will. Even Sherry tells us to provide overlapping opportunities where people can meet Jesus, allowing multiple opportunities for conversion at each person's individual pace. "Provide" does not mean "mandate"!
I hear you.
I started providing opportunities of adult faith formation where people can meet Jesus and convert at their own pace. I used Fr. Robert Barron's Catholicism DVD series. I had our priests give talks in the Adoration Chapel. I gave talks in the Adoration Chapel. I used Benediction. I made artsy, promotional flyers and promoted series of adult faith events varying speakers, topics, places, structure... but nothing has worked like this parent catechetical program.
Why does a mandatory, parent catechetical program work so well?
A large portion of those who need to be evangelized in the New Evangelization are the people in these lost generations of good catechesis. Why? Because when they were children and went to CCD in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the Church at the time was not teaching the faith in full.
From "we had to teach that way because when I was in CCD the nuns would actually hit me with a ruler" to "we were taught by hippies; it is hard to remember anything but banners and graham crackers," it seems that everyone has an opinion or side. Whichever opinion you have or side you are on does not matter as much as what you are doing today for the generations of people who were in CCD in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It was the Church who taught them what they know, or do not know. It is the responsibility of the Church today, you and me, to teach them what we should have taught them when they were children. In order to teach them, however, we first need to understand where they are coming from.
Here is their perspective:
By year's end, however, they will be overjoyed because they "gained so much from it" and will "wish the year was not over" (direct quotes from parents who went through our program).
Matthew Kelly's latest speaker series explains the need for "game-changers" and asks the question, "why is every parish left to its own devices to figure out every aspect of Catholic ministry? Does that not stretch the staff person's job duties at each parish too thin?" He suggests we figure out what works and then share it. We are a large Catholic Church and if we want to make a change for the good in the New Evangelization, collaboration is key.
I ask you to share this post until every MRE, DRE, CRE, CCD catechist, and parish volunteer in the country reads it. I want to help them implement "what works" for meeting the need of catechizing the lost generations who missed good catechesis.
The kingdom of heaven is like a man in search of a good woman to make his wife. When he finds her, he gives up all other potential prospects and asks her to marry him.
The kingdom of heaven is like a job you have always wanted. When the opportunity comes, you do everything in your power to get that job.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (13:44). Again He says, "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it" (13:45-46).
The kingdom of heaven is something that once discovered on the path of life, we immensely desire and yearn to give up everything for it, and do everything in our power to run after it.
It is something we are all meant to find.
Have you found it yet?
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.