the trad-lib pendulum in catechetics

My generation of baby-boomers was raised in the heady days after the Second Vatican Council. I am just old enough to remember Latin masses. And, I have a very clear recollection of the Baltimore-style Catechism in my early school years. Our religion classes consisted of memorizing, verbatim, responses to questions. I still remember the first two questions,

Who is God?

God is a Supreme Being. 

Why did God make you?

God made me to love Him and serve Him, in this world and the next. 

This is heady stuff for a six year old! Yup, back in St. Werburgh`s in Chester, England, we began the long journey through the Catechism as soon as we started school. The words SUPREME BEING, for some reason, terrified me. Is this what the fear of God is all about? And `the next world` sounded so eery!

We came to Canada when I was eight years old. The more liberal approach to catechetics was making its way into the parishes. Ours was named after good Pope John XXIII. For a couple of years we used more traditional text-books. Being a voracious reader, I loved these books; especially the ones on the lives of saints and Church history.

Slowly, the books were put aside and the art supplies came out. We were now taught that God was butterflies, and encouraged to express our faith through collages and drawings. We listened to Simon and Garfunkel and discussed the deeper message in their words.

As with most pendulum swings, going to extremes might have its strengths. But it almost always results in weakness for what is left behind and thrown away. We need a good grounding in the teachings of the Church. But, we need to ground it in a faith of the heart otherwise it becomes merely an intellectual activity. We need to tap into our emotions, for our emotions help our souls to soar! But love that is based solely on emotional feelings is bound to fail. We need deeply formed roots; a mind and will to remind us of the roots of our faith and why we believe.

And what about Simon and Garfunkel? I still love the lads. They taught me to seek the wisdom and truth in art and culture; whether it is a top 40`s hit, a symphony, a T.V. show, a witty ad, or a brilliantly done graphic design. God can, and does speaks through all. And, isn`t it good to seek God in the world around us?