Monday, December 16, 2013

12-14-13 The New Evangelization, Ecumenism, and Introduction to Catechism

Deacon Arden Wolterman from Lexington, KY was the instructor. 

We start with a discussion of the most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church, and how it is inspired by the historical tradition of Catholic catechisms, which build catechesis on four pillars:

- the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed)
- the sacraments of faith
- the life of faith (Commandments)
- the prayer of the believer (the Lord's Prayer)

A brief history of catechisms of the Catholic church:

Early Middle Ages (300-400)

Gregory of Nyssa's Catechetical Instruction (before 385)
Augustine's Enchiridion (about 421)

These were not intended to be comprehensive or historical presentations of Christian Doctrine.  They were intended to be used for the catechist... "to impart such instruction it will not suffice to place a small manual in one's hand; rather it will be necessary to enkindle a great zeal in one's heart."  - Augustine.

Latter Middle Ages (1000-1500)

Catechism for Clergy & Scholars  (intended for the clergy)
Catechism for Children & the Uneducated

The Catechism for Children began the question & answer format, and had simplistic answers suitable for memorization.  This catechism lost some of the depth of the Christian Mystery in its simplistic format.

The Reformation
There were three significant catechisms written around the time of the reformation.  They all shared two characteristics:  there was a large version and a small version.

The small catechism used a question & answer format with short, memorizable answers summarizing Christian belief.
The large catechisms did not use a Q&A format; they are theological in nature, and were intended for clergy, scholars and designers of catechetical materials.

- Martin Luther
- Peter Canisius, S.J.
- Roman Catechism (Council of Trent)

Martin Luther led the first of the protestant schisms of the Reformation, and his catechisms were instrumental in spreading his beliefs.

Peter Canisius was a Jesuit.  His catechisms had two main sections headed "Wisdom" and "Justice".  Wisdom is what we believe.  Justice is how we live.

The Roman Catechism was produced by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent, and was in response to the split caused by Luther and the reformers.   The council convened over 18 years from 1545 to 1563.  The large catechism was issued in 1566.  There was no small Q&A version of this catechism produced.

300 years later, 1870, the Council of Vatican I voted to approve a universal "small" catechism to be published, but the council ended without a plan for implementing this new catechism.

In 1884 the US Bishops approved a national catechism, and the first "Baltimore Catechism" was published in 1885.

Vatican II
The Council of Vatican II started in 1962 under the pontificate of John XXIII and closed in 1965 under the pontificate of Paul VI.  It was the largest gathering of any Council in Church history.

An interesting note:  of those who took part in the council's opening session, four have become popes:  Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (Paul VI), Bishop Albino Luciani (John Paul I), Bishop Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), and Father Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI).

"A catechism should faithfully and systematically present the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in the Church and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers, Doctors, and saints of the Church, to allow for a better knowledge of the Christian mystery and for enlivening the faith of the People of God."

In 1971, six years after the end of the Vatican II council, the "General Catechetical Directory" was published. 
A Directory serves as a guide for addressing issues and seeks unity in the diversity of a pluralistic church.  In 1979 the U.S. National Directory was published in the United States. 
It is called "Sharing the light of Faith:  The National Catechetical Directory."

In 1992, 30 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council , the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published. 

In 1997, 35 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the official version of Catechism of the Catholic Church was approved and promulgated.

It was the first new Catechism from the Catholic church in 431 years.

Pope John Paul II spoke of the Catechism: 
... "while the catechism is a compendium of the doctrine of the church, catechesis ... (is what) transmits this doctrine - with methods adapted to the age - so that Christian truth may become, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the life of the believers."

The Four Parts of the Catechism
The Profession of Faith
The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
Life in Christ
Christian Prayer

Each Part has two Sections

Monday, November 11, 2013

11-9-13 Research & Writing in Formation

Theological writing is much like other technical writing, except for the subject matter.

"Join the 'Great Conversation' in which ideas throughout the world and time are invented, discussed or refuted."  -Fairfield University

Step 1:  Pre-writing.

From what  perspective or ecclesial role am I writing?
What am I writing about?
For whom am I writing?
What is the genre of writing?
What is the organization pattern?
What is the theological language I should use?
What is the theological voice?

There are tactics and techniques that can be used to help prepare.

Free Writing:  Choose a topic; Set a time limit; Start writing and don't stop until time is up; Write whatever comes to mind.

Cubing:  A cube has 6 sides.  Describe it; Compare it; Associate it; Analyze it; Apply it; Argue it.

Visualizing:  Used to organize ideas into groups.

Step 2:  Write.

Write so others want to read it.  Clear; Concise; Coherent; Considerate; Correct.

Research Plan
1.  Begin with questions
2.  Check out the community of scholars.  What have others already said about the subject?
3.  Read and Take Notes
4.  Write an outline.

A theological research project is always an attempt to answer a question.

What is the claim?
What reasons support the claim?
What evidence supports the reasons?
Are there alternatives or objections to the claim?

Assemble reasons to support the claim:

CLAIM... (because of) ... REASON ... (based on) ... EVIDENCE

There are three ways to reason: 

Ethos ... Ethical
Pathos ... Emotional
Logos ... Logical

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

10-12-13 Spiritual Direction

We are always in the process of becoming the person God created.
We are human, seeking to become filled with God.

There is a direction to Spiritual Direction.  It is THEOSIS:  Incorporation of the person into Divine Life without losing the person.

"Theosis" is an Eastern way of thinking
"Eternal Life" is a Western way of thinking

Both point to the same result

Spiritual Direction is to ascertain and discover our promise.  It is a process that occurs on an ongoing and regular basis.  Here are some reasons:

To learn to be attentive to God's Grace
To deepen awareness of God's Grace
To explore what obstructs our attention to God's Grace
To name and honor near occasions of God's Grace
To find the Grace offered in loss, grief, anger and fear
To be conscious of God's Grace in moments of transition
To make important decisions in light of God's Grace

The EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE is a daily discipline associated with the development of Spirit.  Its purpose is to look over each day from the perspective of our proximate direction.

As Aspirants to the Diaconate, our "proximate direction" is: ORDINATION.
Our long term direction is:  THEOSIS.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

10-12-13 The Spiritual Life

Principles of the Spiritual Life
Fr. Bede Cisco

1)  God Acts First.  God Takes the Initiative.

The Spiritual Life starts with God's initiation in us.  He started long before we were even aware of it.  But when WE finally decide to pursue "the Spiritual Life", it starts with Awareness:  paying attention to God working in our lives.

A corollary to the first principle is:  Watch and Wait for God. 
Since God Initiates... our response is what's important.

Waiting for the sun to rise is like waiting for God.  He is there - always - and there is nothing we can do to speed it up.  And the sun ALWAYS rises, so all we have to do is wait.
And if we really know what's going on, it is not that we are waiting for God to arrive, because He is always there:  stationary and pervasive.  It is US that are moving slowly toward Him.

2)  I am God's creature, and He made me Good.

It is easy to struggle with the allure of sin.  But remember how God made us, and our part is to develop the Goodness.

There was a very interesting ancillary discussion here:  be very careful about humility. 
We are not being humble if we view ourselves as less that what God made us.  Humility is NOT putting ourselves down... it is recognizing our true and correct relationship with God. 

3)  I am a Mystery to Myself.

Growth is a continuous process of becoming aware of our own selves.

How do we do grow spiritually? 
SILENCE:  The importance of silence is in the listening.
SOLITUDE:  Being alone with yourself.
PRAYER:  Prayer is at the heart of spiritual direction.

"When you pray, let the distractions go.  If you can't let them go, let them become your prayer"

"Pray 1/2 hour each day, unless you're busy.  Then pray for an hour".     -St. Francis DeSales

Sunday, September 15, 2013

9/15/13 - Liturgy of the Hours

The first day of the Diaconate training focused on "The Liturgy of the Hours". 

Here is what it looks like:

It is four volumes, comprised of 8140 pages of what St. Benedict called:  "The Work of God".

It is the Prayer of the Whole Church, and it's purpose is to sanctify the day.

Everything in the Church has an Instruction with it.  In Book 1 of the "Liturgy of the Hours", there is a "General Instruction" section, which starts on page 21.  It ends on page 98.  A brief overview which presents "The Mind of the Church".

When a man is ordained, he assumes a commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours faithfully.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

9/14/13 - What is a Deacon ... and how does the Church make them?

"What is a Deacon?" 
The answer to the first question will be the ongoing goal of this web log.

"How does the church make them?"

The answer to that question is contained in the curriculum they gave us today.
Here's the schedule for the next FIVE years!

Sep, '13 - Discernment
Oct, '13 - Spiritual Direction
Nov, '13 - Research & Writing
Dec, '13 - Evangelization and Ecumenism
Jan, '14 - Theological Reflection
Feb, '14 - Prayer and Sacramental Participation
Mar, '14 - Pastoral Identity, Skills, Boundaries

(These first 7 sessions are 1 day Saturday sessions. 
The rest of the sessions - starting in April, 2014 - are 3 day sessions, once a month)

Apr, '14 - Philosophy
May, '14 - Philosophy
Sep, '14 - Church History
Oct, '14 - Church History
Nov, '14 - Intro to Scripture
Dec, '14 - Intro to Scripture
Jan, '15 - Spirituality
Feb, '15 - Foundations
Mar, '15 - Foundations
Apr, '15 - Old Testament
May, '15 - Old Testament
Jun, '15 - Ministry of Deacon
Sep, '15 - Epistles
Oct, '15 - Epistles
Nov, '15 - Synoptic Gospels and Acts
Dec, '15 - Synoptic Gospels and Acts
Jan, '16 - Johannine Literature
Feb, '16 - Intro to Liturgy
Mar, '16 - Ecclesiology
Apr, '16 - Ecclesiology
May, '16 - Sacraments
Jun, '16 - Sacraments
Sep, '16 - Pastoral Care and Counseling
Oct, '16 - Pastoral Care and Counseling
Nov, '16 - Christology and Mariology
Dec, '16 - Christology and Mariology
Jan, '17 - Intro to Homiletics
Feb, '17 - American Church
Mar, '17 - Catechetics
Apr, '17 - Eucharist
May, '17 - Eucharist
Jun, '17 - Liturgical Practicum 1

Homiletics Week at St. Meinrad

Sep, '17 - Moral Theology 1
Oct, '17 - Moral Theology 1
Nov, '17 - Canon Law
Dec, '17 - Canon Law
Jan, '18 - Liturgical Practicum 2
Feb, '18 - Trinity and Salvation
Mar, '18 - Trinity and Salvation
Apr, '18 - Moral Theology 2
May, '18 - Moral Theology 2
Jun, '18 - Retreat