Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Aim of Catechesis is Understanding and CONVERSION!

So I guess I basically fail at this blogging twice a month thing. That lasted for a month. Oh well. I guess better late than never on this one.

I LOVE working with teenagers! Nothing brings more joy to my life than being on the front lines of the New Evangelization and engaging youth. I love the subjects I teach. I love the kids I teach. I love the school I teach at. What I don’t love is how much harder it seems it has gotten to reach teenagers than it was when I first started teaching.

I don’t know what it is but even between the time I left teaching to get my Masters and coming back kids have changed. In many ways they are still the same. The distractions and priorities in their life have remained the same. However, their receptivity to the Gospel message has diminished. I don’t know if that is something only going on at the particular school I teach at or a phenomenon nationwide. Don’t get me wrong we still have some incredibly faithful and amazing kids but the general population has become much more apathetic to the gospel than they were before.

I’m not sure exactly what to do. This has been consuming my prayer life lately: “How can I be a more effective evangelizer as a teacher? How can God use me to light the fire of faith in my students?” There is such apathy here. I want my students to fall madly, deeply, and passionately in love with Jesus Christ. A few weeks ago we had a chastity speaker here. The Chastity speaker at the end of her talk mentioned that when she asked young people in their 20’s who had waited to have sex until they got married what made them wait they all responded that it was because their faith was real to them. She hit the nail on the head. My students were all asking me what I thought of the talk and why we have one every year and yet we still have so many problems with chastity. Well the answer is just that: the faith is not real to them! I told them that our school does not need more chastity talks, they need Jesus! Until we come to have an intimate relationship with Christ none of the morality stuff, doctrine, or prayers we say as a class will mean absolutely anything.

I’m making it my mission to start fighting for the opportunities my students need to experience conversion! I'm making it my goal to introduce every kid I come into contact with to Jesus Christ. Too many of my students have been in Catholic School their entire lives and I find it amazing that the reality of the fact that Jesus loves them passionately and wants them to be happy has not sunk in! I’ve become so caught up in the intellectual stuff and content of the faith that I hardly leave time to stop and reflect on that content. Don’t get me wrong the content is important. They need substance. God knows we’ve gone through too many years of bad Catechesis in our country and focused entirely too much on experience. However, that is where teens are today. They let their emotions and experiences rule them. We have to meet them there and then bring them to the content. I love the intellectual wealth of the Catholic Church but it wouldn’t mean a darn thing if I didn’t first meet and encounter the person of Jesus.

It is time for a change at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School. I don’t think it will happen overnight. It will be a slow process but I am going to refocus my techniques on introducing students to Christ first and the content second or even better Christ through the content. I need to take more time to step back from the content and allow them time to reflect on it. I don’t know what that is going to look like yet but please pray for me and if you are a fellow teacher or youth minister ideas are welcome!

“The definitive aim of Catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but in communion, in intimacy with Christ, only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the divine life of the Holy Trinity” – Bl. John Paul II in CT 5

If you can't tell I'm fired up. In education we get so caught up in this idea of "No Child Left behind" and making sure every student "meets standard". We get so caught up in test scores and making sure they "perform" well on a test that we forget that we are dealing with souls! It does not matter how much kids know if the content is not TRANSFORMING their lives and leading them to bring others to the love of Christ. Understanding means NOTHING without conversion. I am blessed to teach in a diocese where the content is never compromised but it is time to take that content and make it pierce the heart of the kids we teach. It does not matter if they pass a test or answer correctly on a survey if they are not falling madly and passionatel in love with Jesus Christ and then taking that love and sharing it with others. If we are not forming our kids into disciples then what is the point of the content? Our students know so much about the faith that if we give them opportunities for conversion it will sink in so much more deeply than in the average teen that they will be a force to be reckoned with in this world. It is time for a revolution! Souls are on the line! Will you join in the battle for souls?