Friday, May 14, 2010

The CDC of Our Children’s Souls

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth."
~ 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.


Anonymous said...

I like your analogy. I do not think that unruly kids are entirely the problem since I while my student's have active minds and like to share things, I do not classify that as unruly.

However, there are some and the teachers need to use their authority to control the classroom. If they choose not to do anything about it then I would say they do not feel the material is important enough to teach or need to take some classes themselves on "how to teach."

I have been to many CCD workshops and I have never heard this topic being instructed from those who do the workshops.
The first thing I would teach is Do not let them call you by your first name and do not get overly friendly. It's ok to be liked, but it isn't always congruent with learning. If you want to impress the students-tell them something that they didn't know about their religion-keep it interesting, answer their questions honestly and always tell them how lucky they are to be Catholics and give them reasons why.
Being a teacher comes with responsibilities and part of that is learning more your faith and especially the history of your faith. It is hard to make class interesting if you do not know anything about it. Why did Jesus come to earth and die for our sins?
That is a history question that dates back to Genesis. The answer "So we could go to heaven" is pretty mundane for most students. Even first graders want to hear more than that.
Demanding respect and respectful behavior, learning your faith, engaging the students amd letting them know how amazing our religion is should change the course of classroom behavior significantly.

Linda Brytak said...

I was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith by parents who didn't believe in God or religion. My father, who all his life stated that he was an atheist believed that you must teach a child something. Give the child a baseline, a faith.

Just as you are born, you are a member of some country. A country you can leave but you start with citizenship to a place.

I performed my first and second communion, with little real idea of what I was really agreeing to. Still I attended school and my friends were all Catholic too. It was not from my parents that I came to love God. But from life itself. I truly believe that God chooses his followers.
Loving your children and loving your spouse are the beginnings. placing them in schools and exposing them to church orthodoxy is the further teaching aid and compliment to the Christian family.
Living your life as a Christian speaks louder than a teacher at the head of the class. Teaching in the public domain is important to reiterate what is learned at home. If the home is not the heart of religion. No school will be able to instill belief because a child learns catechism.

Bayit said...

I don't disagree with the ideas in your comment, but I do not agree on a practical scale that the schools are somehow reflecting or supporting moral beliefs taught at home. In fact, I would say the modern public school is set up to be just the opposite, on purpose. Weaker families mean more control of kids by the schools, which mean more funding (or else!)-- this means higher taxes and more two income families which mean weaker families, etc etc... it is truly a vicious cycle. "the system" we now have keeps parents at arms length from having a say in education (try having a debate about common sense teaching with a modern day educator and see how far you get chopping through the forest of psycho-BS.. you just don't get it because you haven't had the right education theory courses......) and in fact turns kids against their parents. Of course there are gems and there are decent schools but the vast majority are part of a giant self perpetuating machine of the typical socialist secular bent.

information blog said...

nice sharing thank you