Friday, March 15, 2013

Missing Element in Formation of Christians

"Religious education is seen as a means of deepening our faith life, but in reality the reason for the education is to have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus. " With these words a seminary professor begins his interview with the Catholic Times.

Before we make an assessment on our religious education programs, he said we have to decide on the meaning and object of religious education. For those who do not know Jesus, these programs, he explains, are a means of introducing them to the good news, to the gospel message, in order that they might more easily give themselves wholly to Jesus and to understand more fully what he teaches.

The professor feels that the greatest difficulty with religious education is that many do not feel a need for it, no matter how much effort is expended on such programs. Secular values are more important, and even if there is some awareness of the need for more religious education, secular values take precedence. Many feel no  serious  disadvantage in not knowing  more than they presently know about the spiritual life. The pace of modern life does not allow the opportunity or the time to do any deep reflection.

Another way of describing the situation is to say that we get our religious education at church, our knowledge from school, and our common sense from daily  life. This is the way we bring stress into our lives by dividing life into compartments. The religious education that children used to get in the home in years past, as an antidote to a compartmentalized life, is no longer the case. Now it is expected that the Church will take care of this area of life.

The whole person has to grow in knowledge, in ethical behavior and spirituality is rarely a concern. When we see growth in  maturity as many faceted and our way of thinking becomes less directed to the individual and more communal, we will see a religious education that will begin in the home, where it should begin.

At present, there is no ongoing system of religious education for our Christians that begins in infancy and goes on to old age. This has to begin by putting in place a welcoming environment and encouraging personal desire. The present situation in Korea, however, is that there is a lack of commitment, a failure to live the faith we say we believe in. The numbers that have dropped out from the community, the decrease in Mass attendance and of sacramental life, all point to something seriously wrong with the faith life of our Catholics.
A clear understanding of what it means to be a Catholic is missing in the lives of many. The content of our tradition is enormous and the lives of those who have lived it well are recorded, but a desire on the part of many to emulate what has been handed down to us to follow is missing. This 'Year of Faith' will continue to bring many more thoughts to the mix, which will undoubtedly bring a change to our parish life and the way we go about forming our Christians.