“...I realize ever more it’s not sufficient simply to instruct youth or adults in their religion, for there is more to the Faith than knowledge and more to the human person than the intellect,” writes the chair of the Theology department at Newman Guide-recommended University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., in a recent article for Catholic World Report.
Dr. Leroy Huizenga emphasizes the importance of good catechesis, but also proposes that the “best religious education is the Catholic religion itself, practiced well.”
He writes in response to other recent articles, such as one that calls for the replacement of children’s catechesis with instruction aimed at adults.
Indeed,the crisis is real as “only 30 percent of Americans raised Catholic practice the faith” and “more than half of Catholics do not believe that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.”
“Fathers” and “fathers” are integral to making the “intellectual truths of the faith” experienced in a “true and transformational way,” Dr. Huizenga writes. He explains:
I say Fathers, because priests must continue to take the lead in the renewal of mystery in liturgy, so that the attractive power of sacred beauty in liturgy—in architecture, in the art of celebration, in music, in preaching, in all that the liturgy involves—inspires the faithful through mystery to the end of an encounter with Mystery of the Triune God, giving them the vision of the God that St. Augustine named “Beauty, ever ancient, ever new.”
I say fathers, because the Faith will not take root in people unless it is lived in the home, led by the father of the family. Those of us who have worked in youth ministry know that all our programming—summer camp, Bible studies, retreats, religious education, and so forth—yield little fruit if parents aren’t living the faith. And not just parents, but fathers: a Swiss study published in 2000 found that only 3 percent of children with fathers who attend church services irregularly will grow up to practice their faith, while between 33 and 44 percent of children with fathers who attend church regularly will grow up to practice the faith (the mother’s level of attendance determines the difference). This means doing things like grace before meals, family Rosary, celebrations of saints’ days and baptismal birthdays, getting to Mass, and above all a loving Christian marriage lived before the children, as the union of husband and wife represent the mystery of the union of Christ and the Church.
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