Friday, May 14, 2010
The CDC of Our Children’s Souls
~ 1 Corinthians 3:6
As our culture struggles for its soul, the importance of our children’s religious education has only increased. We give an incredibly tough task to those who teach our kids the Faith in parish CCD programs. The kids can be unruly, disruptive, disrespectful, unmotivated, and just plain rude. With little if any immediate results, it makes sense that the metaphor commonly used is one of sowing or planting seeds. You often hear that the best that can be hoped for is to plant the seeds of faith, because it’s better than nothing – right?
But is it OK to settle for just sowing or planting the seeds of the Faith? Given the reality of situation, I think that it is, granted the seeds of faith are sown well. But what if they’re not? What if the seeds were sown poorly? What if the Faith passed on is incomplete or damaged? I would like to put forth an analogy I believe more closely reflects the reality of education in the Faith done poorly. Let’s consider the Faith as if it were a sort of disease with CCD being an attempt to infect the kids.
The goal of evangelization then would really be to “infect” others with the Faith. As with other diseases, some people are more and some are less susceptible to infection. While this type of disease is not as highly contagious as we’d like, the best method of transmission seems to be personal contact with an infected person. With the goal of course being to unleash a great pandemic across the whole earth; “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus has commanded us.” (Mt 28:19-20)
A vaccination works by introducing a small amount of the disease-causing pathogen in a dead or weaken state, or another substance that resembles it into a person. This small amount of the weakened or counterfeit agent in the body is attacked and destroyed by the body’s natural defenses. As a result, the body makes adjustments in its immune system allowing the disease to be recognized and destroyed if an attempted infection should take place in the future. The person has been immunized against the disease.
So in order to protect against the chickenpox, a small amount of the virus that causes chickenpox is introduced into the body resulting in immunity to the chickenpox in a very high percentage of people.
Now what happens when the seeds of Faith are not planted on well? What happens when what is passed on is “dead”, weak, or counterfeit? Immediately attacked by a culture of “death”, moral relativism, institutional secularism, peer pressure and the students’ concupiscence, an immunity to this “disease” may form. What had started out as an attempt to pass the Faith to our children not only failed in planting the seeds of Faith, but has actually inoculated them against that Faith. Here the CCD acts as the CDC of our children’s souls.
But I've used the CCD only as one example of the problem. Of course the child’s education does not only take place during CCD. If it does, the child has little chance of being exposed to anything strong enough to result in an infection. The problem we see in CCD classes is a reflection of what currently exists in the home. We parents fail to teach our kids the smallest parts of the Faith and wonder why they aren’t learning anything in CCD. Teachers may hold the child down, but it’s the parents who ultimately responsible for vaccinating the child.
Planting seed is hard work, and they don’t plant themselves. Some are constantly trying to simplify the Faith, or make it more attractive, fun, culturally sensitive, palatable, less offensive, believable, etc. Some of these can be worthy endeavors if done properly and carefully. But they may not necessarily get more seed into better soil; tragically, they may just produce more inoculated kids.
Sure it can be hard, but so can math and we still expect our kids to take it seriously and work at it. Never has a child accidently learned the Faith, it is up to us as parents to pass it on. And that requires time, effort, intention, and a touch of grace.