Even as we use new technologies for catechesis, communication, and to live-stream liturgies for the benefit of those who cannot be present with the assembly (or, when public liturgies are canceled, with the priests who continue to celebrate the Mass on our behalf), these technologies should always lead us to a greater fellowship and faith in the real world.
With that in mind, here are some ways in which we can root our Domestic Church (our family home) in an incarnational practice of the faith while practicing social distancing and living under stay-at-home orders.
QUESTION: The feast of the Epiphany often describes the magi as three wise men — and even three kings, as in the old carol: “We Three Kings.” Yet we don’t find the word “kings” in the Gospel’s infancy narratives. Can you explain a proper understanding of who the magi were — and their significance — so I can teach my middle schoolers? — PAT W.
JONATHAN F. SULLIVAN Responds:
The wise men appear only in the Gospel of Matthew where they are described with the Greek word magoi, which in addition to “wise men” implies astrologers or even magicians. Little is known about them (the Gospel doesn’t even say how many there were!) except that they came from the East, where they may have been priests of Zoroastrianism or another religion in Persia.
Back in September I offered a breakout session on the relationship between the theological virtue of hope and Catholic education at our biennial Diocesan Teacher Day. The video of that session is now available:
The God of power and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin and brought you to new life through water and the Holy Spirit.” With these words, spoken to the neophytes immediately after their Baptism at the Easter Vigil, the Church professes our belief in the unique power of the sacrament of Baptism.
Baptism has a special significance for catechists, since the truth it bears — salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus — is the faith we proclaim in our teaching. Understanding our Baptism — and drawing on its graces as a source of inspiration and strength — is a necessity for all who proclaim the Catholic faith to others.
Last week I was interviewed by Brigid Ayer and Jim Ganley of the Faith in Action program on Catholic Radio Indy, talking about ways Catholics can grow in their faith. The show will air this weekend, but it’s already available as a podcast:
Last fall I had the pleasure of submitting an article to Catechist magazine exploring the pros and cons of the movement to restore the order of the Sacraments of Initiation for Catholic youth. The article is now online:
At the same time, moving the sacrament of Confirmation to an earlier age is not a panacea for the Church’s evangelization of young people. Simply moving up the age of Confirmation doesn’t address the need to evangelize young people — to proclaim the kerygma, mentor them in a life of faith, and accompany them in their growing relationship with Jesus.
On May 2 our diocesan Office of Catechesis hosted our biannual Parish Catechetical Leaders meeting. We host these gatherings twice a year as an opportunity for fellowship and ongoing formation for DREs, youth ministers, RCIA coordinators, and other parish leaders.
This spring the theme of our meeting was “Education, Formation, and Catechesis.” I gave a presentation on the tasks of catechesis (as found in the General Directory for Catechesis); I’m happy to share the audio and slides of that presentation here:
The scenarios I gave to the groups to discuss were:
Your parish’s Altar and Rosary Society approaches you about helping them recruit young women. (The average age of the Society is 68.) They meet every Wednesday morning after the 8a Mass and are responsible for keeping the church clean and organizing the biannual parish rummage sale, which supports the parish school.
Your parish is building a new church hall; the pastor asks you to find out what kind of space various groups need and make recommendations to him for how the building should be set up.
Attendance at the annual parish picnic in your rural committee has been declining over the last 10 years. Your pastor asks you to come up with a marketing plan to get more people to attend this year.
The evangelization committee at your suburban parish is concerned about the number of non-practicing Catholics in the area. They ask for your help in organizing a “welcome back” event with the goal of getting these Catholics to return and volunteer in a ministry.
Your rural community has seen an increase in the number of people coming to the parish office looking for assistance with rent, utilities, etc. Your pastor asks you to put together a committee to find ways to get these people the help they need.
Your pastor asks you to review and recommend some DVD programs for adult faith formation in your parish.
Last Thursday I had the joy of gathering with over 100 faith formation leaders and diocesan staff in the Diocese of Joliet. My presentation focused on the characteristics of the emerging digital culture and the promise and challenges it holds for the work of the Church in the 21st century.
The participants asked great questions and shared their own stories and ideas for how the Church can be both hyperlinked and human!