Catechist Corner

It's all about sharing the faith.

In a Year

First, let me wish all of my readers a Happy and Blessed New Year!  I hope you have much joy throughout 2012.

As I look forward to the new year, I have been trying to set some goals for myself.  One thing I’ve been considering doing for some time now is to read the Bible completely.  It can easily be a daunting task when you look at the thickness of the book itself, but there is no doubt as to the value one can obtain from reading all of salvation history in Holy Scripture.

As I’ve considered how to best tackle the undertaking, I’ve come across a number of suggestions on how to read through the Bible.  The approach I’ve settled on is to read the Bible in one year.  Many of the one year plans I’ve seen are based on the Protestant Bible, but I did come across a document from an organization called The Coming Home Network International.  They have a plan to not only read the Bible in a year, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well.

I’ve taken their plan schedule and also built it into a spreadsheet format that allows me to keep track of my progress right on my iPad as I use my Bible app and a CCC link right off of that device.  I can read my daily reading from anywhere, and if I miss a day along the way, it’s very easy to catch right back up.  For those interested in the plan, below are links to the original PDF as well as my spreadsheet versions. I would suggest that one always looks at the PDF first, even if they want to use the spreadsheets because the PDF contains some additional guidance where the spreadsheets are exclusively the listing of the daily readings.

Read the Bible and the Catechism in a Year
Original PDF Format
Excel Spreadsheet Format
Open Document Spreadsheet Format

 

I’m looking forward to my own personal growth as I read through the Bible fully, along with the Catechism and I know it will absolutely help in my catechetical ministries.  I hope it can be helpful to all of you as well.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith.

HELLO-O-o-o? ECHO-O-o-o!

Is anyone out there?  It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog, so everyone that has stopped looking has rightfully done so and those that are still here have shown great hope.  I would especially like to thank reader Christian LeBlanc for giving me a much needed kick in the pants to get me to post again.  To be perfectly honest, I haven’t felt inspiration to post lately.  I don’t know if that is because my life has gone into overdrive, if it’s because I have a particularly challenging class this year, if it’s because the content of what we’ve chose to cover in our program seems to completely go over the students’ heads or if it’s something else altogether.

Last time, I mentioned that I was trying to begin a Youth Ministry group in our parish.  That has really taken up quite a bit of time.  The original core group of adults had a very different view of youth ministry than I did.  That being said, I tried to be accommodating because if it’s one thing I learned over the years, it’s that I do not have all the answers.  Well, the two other adults decided to leave the program and that left me having to do everything.  The good news is that I get to structure the group in a way I think best balances faith and social activities; the bad news is that it is all me at this point, which I think limits how much we can do.  I’m praying and asking for more help, but we’ll see what happens there.

As I mentioned, Religious Education is pretty challenging this year.  I have a group of 9th graders, and about a third of the class is made up of members of a local high school’s freshmen football team.  Additionally, two thirds of the class are boys that know and feed off of each other.  Discipline is a challenge and they seem so disconnected from their faith that they just don’t get the curriculum from this year.  I’m going to talk to my CRE about the possibility of changing the content for next year.  While I love the idea of going through the Mass in detail, there are some basic things these students seem to be missing, which significantly limits how much they can get out of the material.  Can you say “blank stares”?

Anyway, I’ve recieved some great feedback over the last few years on my blog and encouragement to keep it up.  I’ve also gotten a lot out of posting and reading the comments some of my readers leave, so I’m not ready to give this up.  I truly hope to have more content to offer going forward, but I also recognize that I’ve said that before and have then fallen off the face of the blogosphere.  I ask for your patience and forgiveness as I try to get back in a routine that will allow me to share with all of you again.

Until next time (which I hope will be much sooner than last time), keep sharing the faith.

WOW!

I saw Jesus the other night. I try to see Him in most places, but on Sunday night I saw Him very clearly in Jason Evert. If you are not familiar with Jason, he is a husband and a father. He has degrees in theology and counseling. But what is not on his resume is his ability to capture the attention of about 1,000 teenagers for over an hour without ever losing them.

On Sunday night, St. Patrick’s Parish in Stoneham, Mass. hosted Jason for a talk. They invited neighboring parishes and my CRE extended me a coveted seat. Jason’s topic was “Romance without Regret”. Yes, Jason is a chastity speaker. And my thoughts can be summed up in one word … WOW!

When Jason speaks, he weaves the message of chastity with a little comedy, some facts, some real-life examples and  some powerful, personal stories as well.  He touches on every aspect of love and human sexuality, in a clear yet loving way.  He presumes nothing, is not judgmental and recognizes that this is not a perfect world; so he addresses even the most difficult things that can and have happened to people, but in a gentle yet clear way.  He defines the difference between “love” and “lust” in a way a teen cannot only understand, but can directly relate to as well.

If you think that I’m being a little vague in my comments, that is intentional.  First, I cannot do his talk justice.  The power with which he delivered this message and the resulting energy in that church was amazing.  These are teens that often challenge what they hear from the church (which can be a good thing), but they got what Jason said.  They simply got it!  We’ve already gotten feedback from parents  on how their teens have reacted (positively) to what they heard!  Second, I don’t want to take away from what you can experience from hearing Jason’s talk.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “Carlos, how am I going to listen to Jason?”.  My response would be, “Virtually, of course!”  I highly encourage you to check out his website (http://www.chastity.com) and his YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/jasonevert).  Under the Chastity playlist, you can view one of his “Romance without Regret” talks (broken into 9 parts) as well as many others.  Better yet, get him to your parish or a parish near you.

Very inspiring, Jason!  Thank you!

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Goodbye 6’ers. Hello 9’ers.

No, I’m not switching sports teams; but I am switching grades.  Due to some schedule changes going on at the parish for religious education, I will not be teaching 6th grade next year.  Instead, I’ll be moving up to 9th graders. To be honest, that’s somewhat intimidating to me.  I remember what high school was like and how certain students interacted with their teachers so I feel a bit anxious about it.  The good news is that I remember what high school was like so I least I can prepare a little bit for the experience.

Over the past year, I’ve been looking at a lot of resources on the internet gathering ideas on class setup and lesson structure.  Part of what I plan to do next year is to throw my students off their game a bit.  The grade’s primary curriculum will be an in depth look at the Mass.  This will be a topic that will lend itself to discussion, so I’m going to move the students away from the tables and have the chairs placed in an open circle in the center of the room.  My hope is that the proximity to me and the other students will make the discussions more lively and intimate.  It should set the tone that all must participate and it doesn’t give anyone a place to hide. A huge plus is that there will be no table there to help them hide their texting under and while that hasn’t been a huge problem in the past, with an older grade I wanted to eliminate the temptation. My CRE is also working on a way to incorporate Theology of the Body into the year.  My experience is that sex is on every teen’s (and tween’s) mind, but they are uncomfortable discussing the topic with any reliable source of information.  I suggested a student retreat as an option for covering some of the material.

Intimidation aside, I’m actually excited about the change.  The Mass is such a central part of how we express our faith that I think this has so much potential.  Additionally, I’m hoping the three year difference in age will make for more intelligent discussions as compared to what I was able to have with my 6th graders.  I’m pretty sure the students will keep me on my toes, so I ask for your prayers that the Holy Spirit wins out.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

The First Catechism?

Have you ever heard of The Didache?  Until recently, I had not; but I came across this short treatise.  The Didache is an ancient document of the Church, which is more formally called “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”.  It is a fairly brief writing that lists the do’s and don’ts for early Christians. Beyond that, it describes early Christian liturgical rituals like baptism and celebrating the Eucharist.

What struck my when reading this is that, at it’s core, Catholicism has not changed much.  Sure, we’ve explained things more clearly to show how they pertain to a particular time; but the principles are very similar.  I mean seriously, who would have thought that in the early second century (which is when this is believed to have been written), there was an explicit prohibition against abortion, or that one could not approach the Eucharist if they had not confessed their sins first.

I guess there is some truth in the saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

For those interested, there are a number of English translations for The Didache.  Below I will link one of them as well as the audio book:

The Didache at New Advent
The Didache Audio Book

The writing is very short but a great way to peer into our Church’s history.  While it may not be a catechism, per se, you can’t deny that it describes “the Way”.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!