Writing on the spirituality page of the Catholic Times, a priest recalls a conversation with a person who had finished his period of study and was ready to be baptized. Because of a previous commitment on the appointed day, the priest invited the young man to come to the research institute where he works, and they spent a great deal of time talking about the life of faith.
He asked the young man what did he find during the period of instruction the most inspiring. He said it was during the week when his own pastor was on retreat and another priest was giving the instructions that he was moved the most. And why was that the case, the priest asked him. Was the lesson more interesting or easier to understand?
Though there are words and teachings that are difficult to understand, it is important that the catechumens be encouraged to open themselves up to the graces being given. When they are given encouragement, they are more receptive to the faith life being given, bringing more understanding as the newcomer to the faith is experiencing the joy and movements of the spirit.
While it's always gratifying to help those who are entering the Church for the first time, it's sobering to realize that the number of church-going Catholics has decreased in recent years, and those who have been baptized are not finding the life of faith as satisfying as they anticipated during their years of preparation. One reason is that our culture does not enforce what the newcomer has learned, and because the temptations are many. Better than the lecture method--though the easiest--to convey the teaching would be to enable the catechumen to put into practice in daily life what was learned in the classroom--as it was being learned. It might be a better preparation in dealing with an unfriendly culture,and surviving the many temptations that may seem even more daunting than they were before entering the Church.