Catechist Corner

It's all about sharing the faith.

The Christmas Story

With Christmas approaching, I thought I’d share this cute video that’s been flooding the social networks today.  It was put together by some children in New Zealand (with some adult help, I’m sure).  Enjoy!!

 

 

I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!!

Until next 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!

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!

My New Office is so Divine!

DivineOffice.orgNo, I’m not talking about a new desk and chair with beautiful decor, I’m talking about the Divine Office, a.k.a. the Liturgy of the Hours.  From time to time, I would be intrigued by the Divine Office.  It seemed so mysterious, so “old” and that really sparked my curiosity.  I knew this was something that priests did and by the title “Liturgy of the Hours”, I figured it took a lot of time.  I have a bad habit of judging a book by its cover and this cover along with its title intimidated me; plus since I’m not a priest, how weird would it be for me to be praying this thing.  Over time, I learned that Religious brothers and sisters also prayed “the Hours” and the title was not about how long they took, but about when they were prayed.  (How embarrassing!!)  More recently, I’ve started seeing various blogs mentioning and recommending that the laity pray it as well, but I was still intimidated by it and determined that I just didn’t have the time to add yet another prayer to my list.  After all, those were some mighty thick books!!

A few weeks ago, Jeff Young, The Catholic Foodie had an episode on his podcast about the Divine Office.  This episode was not just about the prayer itself, but about DivineOffice.org.  The episode was primarily an interview with the crew of that ministry — Dane, Chriss, Denise and Greg.  DivineOffice.org is recording audio of the Liturgy of the Hours “with the purpose of promoting the tradition of praying always  through these ancient treasures of the Church, not only to Catholics but to all Christians universally.”

This interview had my headphones glued to my ears.  They not only explained how they ended up in this ministry but also explained what this prayer is really all about, and that helped demystify it for me quite a bit.  As I implied above, one of my biggest hesitations has always been how much time this employed-full-time-Catechist-by-night-husband-and-father would be able to commit to a prayer that could be lengthy.  I honestly never considered the possibility of just praying some of the prayers throughout the day.  The crew suggested that one begin with just one of the Hours of the day and grow from there.  I had always assumed it was all-or-none.  Additionally, the fact that you can pray the Hours together with these fine folks by downloading their recordings or listening to them directly off their site, made this even more of a possibility. One might otherwise feel lost or intimidated on how to pray them correctly.  Even though the recordings don’t contain specific instructions, they still almost double as a tutorial of sorts.

So I decided to begin praying the Divine Office.  I try to pray the three major hours each day — Office of Readings, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.  Occasionally, I’ll sneak Night Prayer in before going to bed.  These prayers are absolutely beautiful!  There is a lot of focus on the psalms and the readings thus far have flowed like stories.  This is this a great way to grow in your familiarity with the scriptures overall.  I’m starting to have a broadened understanding of salvation history even within the short time since starting this.

Have any of you contemplated trying the Divine Office?  If you have and have been scared off or have otherwise delayed doing so, let me strongly recommend that you listen to the interview on The Catholic Foodie, then go over to DivineOffice.org and have a look around.  The service is available for free directly through their website, RSS Feed or iTunes podcast.  They do have a paid iPhone app, but that is completely optional and not getting it will have no impact to your ability to pray the Hours.  (It’s a great app, by the way.)  I hope you will consider praying this beautiful prayer of the Church.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!

Wabbit Season or Duck Season?

Neither, but it sure does seem to be Webinar Season.

I have been lucky enough to have participated in two excellent webinars over the past couple of weeks that have really helped me to reconsider how I should engage in my ministry.

The first webinar was presented by Jonathan F. Sullivan, who is the Director of Catechetical Ministries for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.  The webinar was titled “Catechizing Digital Natives” and focused on the different ways that today’s kids process and learn information.  Below is the video recording of the webinar and here is a link to some of the resources discussed in the video.

The second webinar was presented by Joe Paprocki from Catechist’s Journey.com and Loyola Press.  Joe is well known among Catechists as not only an author of numerous books about being a Catechist, but also as an 8th Grade Catechist himself.  His webinar was titled “Growing as a Catechist: A Self-Evaluation Based on 7 Critical Tools from The Catechist’s Toolbox” and focused on how to reflect on our own ministries with the goal of tweaking our approach and preparation to add more impact when we catechize.

I found both of these webinars so valuable that I just had to share them with you.  As Catechists, sometimes we feel like we are left to our own devices and it’s nice to know that there are others out there who share their ideas with us.  It’s amazing when you find out that the problems you face in your classrooms and parishes are not as unique as you might think.

Until next time, keep sharing the faith!