From time to time I like browsing through the large collection of books we have downstairs. Libraries, bookstores, now the internet, are treasuries and junkyards all at once. You never know when you’re going to stumble upon something that sparks questions or open your mind.
Awhile ago, I stumbled on a book called Pride of Place: The Role of Bishops in the Development of Catechesis in the United States, by Sr. Mary Charles Bryce. It’s a study of catechisms and catechesis in our country from the time of Bishop John Carroll, way back in the 18th century, to the 1980’s. How are we going to teach and form our people in faith? That’s the question they were asking then. It’s a question we face now.
Catechesis is on my mind lately. We’ve had a big development in theology and scripture and liturgy since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, but has that reached the ordinary people of the church, young or old? I think we need a better way to make the riches of our faith available to them. Catechesis is one of our prime needs as Catholic schools decline and dioceses, parishes, religious orders and their resources diminish.
“Pride of Place” Sister Bryce called her book, a title from an old pastoral letter of the American bishops on catechesis. Not a bad priority for the church today. How are we going to pass on the faith we have received in our time. What are the words and ways we’re going to use? Pope Francis in his recent letter Desiderio Desideravi calls us to see the liturgy as a catechetical school.
The Eternal Word needs to become incarnate from age to age:
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.” (T.S. Eliot)
We need to renew our liturgical life. We need good catechetical sites online and there’s still something to be said for the books in our library downstairs. They were gathered by people before me, who were wondering about things as I am now. Someone recognized Sister Bryce’s book was a good book to hold on to.