Tag Archives: youth catechesis

Catechetical Resources: Video Clips…

Here are three video clips I’ve found recently which I think will be great to add to our little catechetical ‘stores’ for future use…

Number One. Liturgy (Adult Catechesis) I love this clip! It shows the continuity, difference and complementarity of the liturgical styles of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. We hear quite a bit of talk where people – depending on their own preferences – either bemoan Pope Francis’s liturgy and long for Pope Benedict’s, or on the contrary, enthuse about what a breath of fresh air Pope Francis’s approach is, compared to the supposedly stuffy approach of Pope Benedict. None of these attitudes will do! Let us be faithful to each one. This video shows it wonderfully. Thank you to Fr James’s blog where I found this.

Number Two. Confession (Youth Catechesis) No one beats John Pridmore for evangelising young people on Confession. (In fact, it was his testimony – which I have now heard at least a hundred times 😉 – that made me make my first full Confession at age 17) In the Confirmation session I used to lead on Confession, I always tried to ensure we had a young person give their testimony to the candidates on Confession. There is nothing like a young person, speaking from the heart, and exposing their own vulnerability, to enable young people themselves to go with courage to the confessional and open their hearts fully to Christ. However, if you do not have a young person to share such a testimony, I’d say this little clip is the next best thing.

Number Three. Evangelisation (Young People) This awesome little music video from Edwin Fawcett is ideal for ‘primary evangelisation’ of young people. As I’ve mentioned constantly on this blog, we must never jump straight into catechesis with young people – we need to spend time evangelising, allowing Christ to attract their hearts first. Unless some level of conversion has happened, catechesis will be like empty words to them. Resources for a youth evangelisation retreat are like gold dust – these are the priceless tools we can use to allow God to reach into young people’s hearts and call them to conversion. Edwin is a first-class youth evangelist. (The period of evangelisation in our Confirmation programme always used to include a praise and worship session with him… now he’s onto bigger and better things 😉 ) I love this video – it reaches into broken youth culture and allows God to draw young people to himself.

Catechesis on the Church

20120201-145310.jpgWhen I was around 17 or 18, I helped out with a youth day in my parish. The theme of the day was the Church and it included catechesis, games and quizzes all related to the Church.

All day I knew something was wrong – and now I can articulate what troubled me then. When the catechists spoke of the Church, they meant simply the ‘human’ element. The young people were encouraged in ‘gift affirmation’ exercises – affirming the personal gifts they brought to the Church; games centred around the different ‘body parts’ of the Church from St Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians; the overarching message of the day was that “everyone is special and has something to give”.

A Headless Church
Now I can tell you what was wrong – the Church these young people were being taught about was a Church with every body part imaginable, but with no Head. Very little, if any, mention was made of Christ. Absolutely no mention was made of the divine element of the Church.

This sounds all-too-familiar, doesn’t it? Catechesis that focusses on the human without moving beyond to the divine. Catechesis that is human-centred and more concerned with self-esteem than with what God has revealed about our salvation. What the catechists had forgotten was that what is visible (i.e. the institution and members of the Church) is a sign or sacrament of what is invisible – the divine life Christ wants us to enter into, through the Church.

Now I would suggest the following points are foundational when giving catechesis on the Church:

1. The close bond between the Church, the mystery of Christ and the Paschal Mystery: Christ lays down his life for his Bride, the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, 5)

This really must be the proclamation of the catechesis – Christ has died for us, and we receive His life in the Church. The YouCat is wonderful for proclaiming the Faith in succinct, expressive statements – “Jesus Christ loves the Church as a bridegroom loves his bride. He binds himself to her forever and gives his life for her” (YC 127).

2. The Church makes visible the light of Christ (cf. LG, 1)

Again, the YouCat has it, “The Church is God’s presence among us men” (121). She is a sacrament of Christ. Just as wherever Jesus went, heaven touched earth, so with the Church she is “a formidable bit of heaven on earth” (123).

What analogies can we use to teach this? The best I can think of is the analogy of the human person – someone’s body (a smile, a frown, an embrace) reveals their soul. We have to get to know someone to ‘read’ the signs of what is inside them, so to speak. It’s the same with the Church – the visible reveals the invisible. As the YouCat puts it,

“True love does not blind a person, but rather makes him see. With regard to the Church, this is precisely the case: Viewed from outside, the Church is only a historical institution with historical achievements … But that is not looking deep enough” (124)

3. The Body of Christ receives grace from its Head, Christ (cf. LG, 7)

Christ is inseparable from His Church. This is hard for young people to grasp – despite the sometimes great sins of her members, Christ has made “an inseparable union” between himself and the Church.

4. “The Church is the place in the world where the Holy Spirit is completely present” (128)

I love this line. The Father and the Son have lavished the Church with all of their Love. We explain to our Confirmation candidates that the Gift of the Spirit is poured out on them so that they will belong completely to Christ, fully part of the Church. And this is why the Spirit is sent.

Evangelisation in Confirmation preparation

I recently read a great article on the blog Catechesis in the Third Millennium about a session of evangelisation at the start of the Confirmation programme. It is interesting to see different ideas of incorporating this essential element into Confirmation preparation. Of course, catechesis is one of the “moments” of evangelisation, so in a sense it always needs to be evangelistic: attractive, engaging, concerned with converting hearts. This was our concern on our Confirmation retreat last weekend. I’ve said before that it is relatively easy when you have just twenty candidates like we do. Twenty is a great number 🙂 I have no idea how we would cope with 200!

CFR Friars - an important ingredient for youth evangelisation

We knew the candidates were not greatly looking forward to going away for a weekend early on in the school year. They all had mountains of homework, some had to miss school matches, they didn’t know what to expect. However, the transformation over the weekend was incredible. We had two Franciscan Friars of the Renewal with us for the weekend who proved ever so popular with the candidates, playing football and frizbee, and teaching them annoying games 😉 The first morning (after a first night of some games and a film) started by getting the candidates think honestly about where, on a scale of 1-10, they would say their relationship with God is, which provoked some interesting discussion. This was followed by teaching from the Friars on the love of God the Father, including the testimony of one of them. In response to this teaching, the candidates were invited to go off by themselves to write a personal letter to God the Father, speaking with Him openly. It was amazing to see their enthusiasm for this: they spread out outdoors and in the chapel and spent a good 30 minutes writing. The rest of the weekend included a similar teaching on God the Son, focussed on mercy and forgiveness, in preparation for the evening’s Reconciliation Service. We also had a YouCat workshop, introducing them to their YouCats, which they were presented with by the catechists at the end of Mass, and each small group produced a drama of the life of their Saint. All this was interspersed with football, frizbee and a walk to the site of the kidnap and martyrdom of St Alban (the first martyr of England!).

Perhaps what was best about the weekend – other than the candidates’ willingness to enter into prayer and go to Confession – was the sense of community between them. It was an interesting weekend to recognise the dynamics of the group, and was encouraging to see them include everyone in their activities and look out for each other. Similarly, it was a fantastic opportunity for us as catechists to build relationships with them and get to know them a bit on a human level before the catechesis begins.

So, hopefully, a good start. May the Holy Spirit build on this foundation in leading these young people deeper into Christ!