Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Plan!

After going over some tidbits I received on Jesuit pedagogy* I decided last night to go over my CCD syllabi from Years Past and try to structure something which I have found yields good results, in the sense of a framework with new textbooks. With some textbooks, it requires a lot more backing up and wheeling around, but nobody promised me a rose garden. Come to think of it, nobody promised me so much as a rose, but I digress.

It's really nothing more than a series of steps, and to each step you tack on the bits relevant and appropriate to the person being catechized. It also struck me that, in a way, catechumens are our temporal (instead of geographical) missions. As a Church we travel all over the world building missions, and in a different dimension, catechumens are the same. The practical result is to take the same measures with a guy in some rainforest, covered in mud and living in a hut made from the earwax of his ancestors and apply them (suitably adapted) to a child who gets dropped off in a Ford Explorer.

This is what I have figured out, and I ask anyone with whom I deal to feel beyond free--empowered, really--to add, subtract, juggle and tweak to your heart's delight**:

1- Why God?
2- What does God ask of us?
3- What does/did God promise?
4- Why Christ?
5- What does Christ ask of us?
6- What does/did Christ promise?
7- Why the Catholic Church?
8- What does the Church ask of us? Why?

In my experience, once you get someone to fully accept any premise (say, that Jesus is the Messiah) it makes it impossible to ignore the actions required by that premise (that we keep His commandments), which in turn puts us in position to receive that which naturally flows from accepting a premise and the action it requires from us (We will be in Heaven and all will be swell).

In my classes I had particular success with posing the question Christ himself asked: "Who do you say that Jesus is?"

If a student were to answer (and nobody has said this yet so I always ask in a rhetorical way, but you never know) something like "He was only a Really Swell Guy" that can be easily countered ("Do you think Really Swell Guys are likely to ascribe themselves divinity?") and the same would apply to every other plausible answer. (That Jesus was a loon, that He was a New Age Guru Guy, or whatever) This is addressed until the only answer is the obvious one: Jesus is the Christ. Students are usually pretty happy to have arrived at this point through the give-and-take of thoughtful discussion.

Until it hits them. THEY have just figured out that Jesus = Christ = Son of God. They had previously figured out that there IS a God. So now they are left with the dawning realization they may no longer plead ignorance and therefore they MUST listen to what Christ (or anyone of whom Christ speaks glowingly) or else. This makes them take a LOT more stuff a LOT more seriously. I derive immensely perverse satisfaction from seeing the faces of "Now what have I gotten myself into?" on the 13 year olds who have graced my classes for all these years.

So anyway, that's for mediation. (I try to plant seeds better each and every year.)

Yours in the Lord,

-JMG

* SAT word

** Do not take a red pencil--or pen--to this unless you have printed it out. It'll be murder to explain why you need a brand-new monitor.