The Catholic teacher and the Bible do not need to have an oxymoronic relationship!
In recent videos I have been trying to share just how crucial the relationship is between the demands of daily teaching life and the need to find ways to be refilled and restored by the Holy Spirit. Catholic teachers give so much. I often like to say that they are professional givers. However, at some point, even the most extroverted ‘people person’ needs to step back and allow the well to be refilled. (more…)
How do we go about teaching sexuality in a Catholic school?
The challenge for so many teachers in Catholic schools in the area of sexuality formation cannot be overemphasised.
As well as their normal teaching load and many other responsibilities they are often expected to be able to successfully deliver content in areas such as human sexuality and the Catholic Church’s understanding of what it means to be a human sexual person made in the image and likeness of God.
Not only do most Catholic teachers often lack formation in this area for their own professional practice but they also face complex, demanding and even aggressive challenges from the wider society. It is a challenging moment in history for every Catholic teacher. We are witnessing an extraordinary cultural moment in terms of gender, marriage and many related issues. Has there ever been a more difficult time for a committed Catholic teacher to try and share a rich and compelling message about human sexuality? (more…)
I was always amused by the quote from one cardinal who had spent a large amount of money updating the religious education textbooks in his archdiocese. Many people complained, more or less vocally, at the expense. Reminds me of Judas complaining about the fact that the money could have been spent on the poor. Sadly, in this instance, it seemed that more than a few of this cardinal’s Catholic bureaucrats probably wanted the money spent on their own liturgical dance projects or ‘educational research’ visits to Paris in spring! Anyway, my point is that when faced with this criticism the cardinal simply replied, “I at least want the young people to know what they are rejecting.”
I like what he said. Sadly, many Catholic students do not even get the chance to know what it is they are rejecting. How can they reject something they are never really taught in the first place? What actually happens is that they reject what they ‘think’ is the Catholic faith. They reject a weak and insipid vision of Catholicism that is all about ‘no’. No sex, no fun, no joy. Hollywood, Netflix and the Internet all step in to reinforce the narrative and another generation disappears down the rabbit hole of post-Christian belief. (more…)
This message is hard for some people to hear.
I will post a link at the bottom to the full article from Father Longenecker. Basically, I agree with him. I think for many years so many catholic schools have travelled a very long way down the winding path of a gospel of salvation by political ideology and not the path of salvation by grace.
A long time ago it seems that some Catholic teachers decided that genuine catechesis and the preaching (and living) of the gospel of Jesus Christ was hard. First point; they were right. It is hard. I find it hard most of the time. The fact that it is hard does not mean we need to stop teaching it. It just means it’s hard and that we need grace to live it which is, in fact, something the Catholic Church understood since the time of St. Peter! We can’t live the Christian life just by sheer force of will. This is the heresy of pelagianism. (more…)
One of the criticisms of previous eras in the religious formation of young people is around the learning of rote formulas. In the past, many students learned significant parts of the catechism off by heart. The criticism is that this led to a whole load of head knowledge and very little heart knowledge. The parable of the sower could be applied here as, no doubt, quite a few students, when faced with the challenges of life, had not been rooted in deep soil and so fell away.
As with many things in our world there is a pendulum here, a continuum. All wrote learning may lead to a weak depth of experiential spirituality. All experiential learning can end up being little more than feelings that fall away when the times of testing in life arrive. Obviously, what we need is a balance. That said, my sense has been that for at least the last couple of generations we have let go of much catechetical learning and hoped that making liturgies, ‘fun’ would be enough to keep our kids practising the faith. It didn’t. (more…)
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. (more…)