Tag Archives: evangelical catholicism

The Evangelical Catholic Parish

Mass

George Weigel keeps hitting the nail on the head recently. Here’s a recent article in First Things. If it’s time for the Church to embrace evangelical Catholicism, it changes the way we see a parish. Under the current model, your standard, mediocre institutional-maintenance Catholic parish, of 2-5% intentional disciples, is unlikely to experience a huge difference when one parish priest is replaced by another. OK, so some changes always happen. Maybe he’ll move the furniture in the office or alter how the readers’ rota gets organised. In an evangelical Catholic parish, a lot more is at stake. I know such parishes are few and far between, but a few do exist here and there. If a parish has been built up, over many years, intentionally forming its parishioners for mission, with a self-consciously evangelistic approach to the world, the choice of a new parish priest is of incomparable importance – I would go as far as to say make-or-break, life-or-death importance for the parish. For an evangelically-minded local Church, then, the right priest to take on this parish will be one who can lead it to the next spiritual, and evangelistic, level. He will nurture what is there already and identify new areas into which the Holy Spirit wishes to lead that community. In an institutional-maintenance minded local Church, incredible fruits can be wiped out. So… thank you George Weigel… once again, I think he’s bang on the money.


Organic Catechesis

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Well, I’m back again at the seminary doing my annual “catechetics-in-three-days” with seminarians who are doing an extended placement next year.

Much of what I am teaching is guided by the understanding in Weigel’s recent book that we are – and need to promote – moving into a model of ‘evangelical Catholicism’. The key points of Sherry Weddell’s book also fit very well into theme, especially what she writes about moving from an infant paradigm of catechesis into an adult paradigm. This leads to an interesting question – To what extent is moving to an adult paradigm for catechesis essential for ‘evangelical Catholicism’? DISCUSS! (Thank the Lord I am not a full-time teacher – I would be a nightmare!)

It is amazing what we have covered in a short space of time. We began with the Pedagogy of God in Part 3 Chapter 1 of the General Directory, which then became the overarching theme of everything else. The pedagogy of God really blows your mind when you think deeply about it, and transforms your understanding of catechesis. (Why is it that so few practitioners speak/write about it?!) We have used Mgr Francis Kelly a lot – examining his five goals of catechesis, and the ecclesial method.

Yes – I know – writers I’ve mentioned on here gazillions of times…

One of the exercises we did concerned ‘organic catechesis’. (This is part of ‘Catechesis 101’ if this is all Greek to you!) By organic catechesis, I don’t mean rustic focal pieces draped with greenery. Because in catechesis we hand on the Person of Christ, not just a stack of facts about the faith, it is important that we show the interconnections between the doctrines of the Faith. They are all connected in the Person of Christ. If we are teaching someone about a person, everything about their personality, characteristics, are connected. A list of unconnected bullet points will not reveal much about them. But telling the whole story behind them will. So, any doctrine needs to be linked into the ‘big picture’.

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A big old tree is a helpful image to have. The healthiness of its leaves depends on the firmness of its trunk. The ‘trunk’ is those truths of our faith which are ‘foundational’ – without these foundational truths we would not have the rest of the Faith. These are also sometimes called the ‘golden threads’ which run through the Catechism – on every single page you will find these foundational truths. What are these foundational truths? (Can you work this out?!)

In case it’s too late in the day to do much theological pondering, here they are…

  1. The Blessed Trinity
  2. The dignity of the human person
  3. The Incarnation – the Person of Christ
  4. The Paschal Mystery
  5. The Church

Whatever we teach – whether it’s doctrine on Purgatory, or the communion of saints, or openness to life within marriage – it is good to connect this doctrine to each of these foundational truths. It guarantees that we are teaching this doctrine within the whole picture of the Faith, and especially, teaching the whole Person of Christ. This ensures a rich, organic transmission of the faith. Read more in The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Craft of Catechesis.