Full and Active Participation: The Challenge of “Porta Fidei” and the Promise of Right Brain | Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Ph.D. and Charles T. Kenny, Ph.D. | HPR
To effectively promote Pope Benedict’s effort, the Year of Faith, with its associated catechetical programs, a new marketing approach needs to be crafted putting joy before the law … leading with the contagious love of Jesus Christ, demonstrating how, by attending these various efforts, the participants will share in that joy by experiencing that love.
Anyone who has run any kind of catechetical event knows the difficulty in getting Catholics to attend. Amid the hustle and bustle of life, Church, along with its related functions, weighs low on the priority scale for many. Mass is often seen by some as a kind of mechanical obligation to be fulfilled and, once fulfilled, nothing more is required. This attitude is further entrenched by a view that catechesis is exclusively for children. It is quite common to hear parishioners boast that they had 12 years of Catholic education, as though an adolescent faith is sufficient to carry them through life’s remaining triumphs and tragedies. There is little sense among many of the faithful that catechesis is a lifetime endeavor, the absence of which restricts our ability to live the faith we profess and, more to the point, love the God who loved us first. Even with the best catechetical programs, even with the best advertising efforts, chairs remain empty and the faithful remain uninformed.
Early in his pontificate, Pope John Paul II took up the essential role of ongoing catechesis. In his 1979 Apostolic Exhortation, Catechesi Tradendae, he wrote, “catechesis is necessary both for the maturation of the faith of Christians, and for their witness in the world.” 1 Given the essential role of ongoing catechesis in the life of the faithful, and the lack of participation in adult catechetical programs, there exists a disparity of faith; a disparity that is symptomatic of an ever-increasing secularism.
Speaking to the Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI identified radical secularism as one of the greatest threats to the core truths of the Catholic faith. A consistent theme throughout his pontificate, the Holy Father explained that: “The crisis currently being experienced brings with it traits of the exclusion of God from people’s lives; a general indifference towards the Christian faith; an attempt to marginalize it from public life.” 2 More recently, this theme was taken up again in an address to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Summing up his thoughts, he said: “We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today.” 3