Thursday, September 07, 2006

Handing on the Faith in an Age of Disbelief

The title of this set of papers given by Cardinal Ratzinger and others in conferences in France in 1983 immediately intrigued me. It seems to me that this handing on of the Faith is the "problem" which Catholic homeschool parents are particularly interested in solving - both on individual and collective levels.

I'm only a few pages into this fairly short book (Ratzinger's papers come first), but it's already quite loaded with helpful truths and ideas. Here's a sample:

That catechesis is having a difficult time is a platitude that does not need to be demonstrated at great length. The reasons for the crisis and its consequences have been described often and extensively. In the technological world, which is a self-made world of man, one does not immediately encounter the Creator; rather, initially, it is only himself that man always encounters. The fundamental structure of this world is feasibility, and the manner of its certainty is the certainty of what can be calculated. Therefore even the question of salvation is not geared to God, who appears nowhere; rather, once again, it is geared to the ability of man, who wants to become the engineer of himself and of history. Accordingly, he no longer seeks his moral standards, either, in discourse about creation or the Creator, since such talk has become unfamiliar to him. For him, creation is silent with regard to morality; it speaks only the language of mathematics, of technological utility, or else it protests against its violation by man. But even then its moral exhortation remains indeterminate; ultimately, in one way or another, morality becomes identified with social acceptability, compatibility with man and his world. In this respect morality, too, has become a question of calculating the bset possible arrangement of the future. All of this had fundamentally changed society. To a great extent the family, the basic sustaining social form of Christian culture, is in the process of disintegrating. When metaphysical ties do not count, other sorts of commitment can scarcely shape it in the lnog run. This whole world view is mirrored, on the one hand, in the new media and, on the other hand, is nourished by them. To a great extent, the representation of the world and of events in the media today makes more of an impression on people's awareness than their own experience of reality. All of this affects catechesis, which finds that its traditional social supports - family and parish - are present only in broken form. Since it can no longer connect with the experience of faith lived out in the living Church, it seems to be condemned to remain mute in an age whose language and thought feed almost exclusively by now upon experiences of the self-made world of man.


Deep Furrows said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll have to put this book of Ratzinger's on my wishlist.

I already have read some beautiful and powerful writings of his on education in his book, Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism. In it, he discusses what the Gospel is, drawing on the best of recent scholarship; he discusses catechesis; and he notes some goals of the univeral Catechism of the Catholic Church, notably the need to revive the memory of the Church through a renewal of a common language.


Love2Learn Mom said...

Interesting! I'll have to check that one out (I think I already have it on my shelf).