In today’s short video I want to explore with you what is probably one of the biggest single crises facing Catholic Education. We talk a great deal in the post-modern developed world about rights. It seems pretty much everyone has a right to pretty much everything despite the logical inconsistencies that emerge all the time. However, I want to talk with you about the rights of Catholic students to receive genuine and authentic catechesis.
What is the essential point of a child attending a Catholic school? Over the last decade I have worked with hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of Catholic teachers and it’s surprising just how many disparate answers you can get to this question. I often try and clarify things by sharing a simple line from Pope Paul VI who wrote in Evangelii Nuntiandi, “The Catholic Church does not have a mission. She is a mission.” There is so much in that short statement. It is so very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there is this thing called ‘The Catholic Church’ and that there is a branch office or subsidiary called “Catholic Education’. It’s just plain wrong. There is only one mission. It may be made manifest in different ways by different aspects of the Church but we must come to grips with this one essential mission.
The mission of Catholic Education is help young people encounter the real and risen person of Jesus Christ and to continue in a life-long relationship with Him. There are other things, important things, that we do such as educating the whole person (integral formation) but without this deep christological core, we are in deep trouble.
In today’s video I pick up some thoughts from Pius X that I came across in my current post-graduate work. His commitment to the importance of catechesis is impressive. He understood just how crucial it is to provide both the Church;s sons and daughters and also her enemies, with a clear presentation of what the Catholic Church actually teaches and not what people ‘think’ she teaches.
My sense is that we have seen a complete implosion of effective catechesis. What makes this so strange is that the Second Vatican Council was big on this. Paul VI essentially wrote Catechesi Tradendae based on the council’s deliberations and John Paul II ended up publishing it as the first document of his pontificate. Both popes deeply understood the crucial importance of catechesis for the life of the Church.
It is now becoming an act of genuine apostolic courage for Catholic teachers to step up and take catechesis seriously again. For so long we were sold the lie that our kids simply would not go for it. Genuine, rich and authentic Catholic catechesis was placed in the too hard basket. It’s time to go get it out and get to work.
Thanks for all you do. I figure if you watch this video you already deeply care about what’s happening and that you are already part of the solution.