Tuesday, June 28
I assume that means "blog beg." Anyway.
We at the Shrine recieved the following email:
I will be teaching religion at our new Catholic high school this fall, despite my lack of qualifications to do so. (mild exaggeration) I am curious as to how many of you graduated from Catholic high schools, and what you considered the most valuable parts of your experiences there. And if you remember the texts you used in your Church history classes, that would be even better. :-) I get to pick what the juniors will read, and am somewhat torn between several options. I would be interested to hear your input and appreciate any responses I receive from you all. Any "things I read in high school that helped deepen my faith" ideas would also be most welcome.I did not attend Catholic school until I got to Notre Dame, and frankly I think my faith was the better for it -- only because I saw what our local Catholic high school turned out: Lots of kids who, as I've said before, "Know the color of the smoke which announces a knew pope, but seem to have infinitely more skepticism towards the Church than they have love for Christ."
So I would emphasize that any school program should somehow facilitate
1) A true reverence for Christ, so that rather than being a reliable punchline, Catholic identity really is Christocentric. This reverence should really extend to the way the history of the Church is presented, to how the Divine Person of Christ is regarded in conversation, to a palpable reverence for the currentinstitution of the Church.
2) A real opportunity to encounter Christ as a living force. This really happens sacramentally, especially through Adoration and Confession. But in the classroom, the history of these practices, and the experience and writings of the saints, could be studied and explained.
I remember the first time I saw someone take the Church seriously. That opened me up to take the Church seriously. I think that's the greatest witness that an adult can provide.
The books I read that made a difference for me in 8th grade were "Why do Catholics Do That?" and "Rome Sweet Home" by Scott Hahn: I needed basic formation in what Catholics believed and did, and I needed someone from outside to tell me that Catholicism was worth converting to. However, depending on how good the Catholic school, this may be totally unnecesary for individuals who have GONE to Catholic school.
I would recommend reading the original sources whenever possible. One of the greatest thrills I had in studying the Church on my own was the ability to look up conciliar documents written centuries ago and say "This is what they believed, and I believe it, too." These are not as hard to read as they might sound: I read a lot of the Council of Trent the summer before high school. So, if you're teaching history, try the original sources! The Councils, the Fathers, etc.