While facilitating a recent infant baptism class, I found that it was very important to get a feel for the participants and their knowledge about the Faith before proceeding with the class. The lesson to me (and hopefully to catechists) was, do not assume that attendees are current in certain faith knowledge.
I had no reason to think that these parents and godparents were not up-to-date on their knowledge of the sacraments but I wanted to see what they knew. Since it was a baptism class, the very first sacrament, I asked them if they knew how many sacraments there were. I could see them squirming and giving me embarrassed grins. A couple of brave ones meekly answered, “Four?” “Three?” I realized I needed to give them a quick Catechism 101 lesson on the sacraments.
I tried not to show my concern but proceeded by saying that sometimes we need a refresher. They seemed to like that. I told them that there were actually seven sacraments. I could see the wheels of remembrance starting to turn. The next question I asked was, “Can anyone name the sacraments?” The answers started rolling-out, but we only ended-up with six. “What is the seventh?” I asked. There was no answer. I said, “Holy Orders.” I then asked, “What are Holy Orders?” I saw a few shrugs and blank faces. Then I heard a questioning peep, “Priests and deacons?” “Yes! Exactly,” I answered. I continued with the crash course for a few more minutes and then proceeded with the baptism class itself.
This experience made me realize: we cannot assume that everyone is at the same level in faith knowledge. We all need a refresher, a reminder, sometimes about our Faith. People could forget something as “basic” as the Seven Sacraments if they do not reflect upon them periodically. The same goes for any of the Church’s teachings.
I tried to make my teaching moment fun, interesting, and informative. I tried not to make them feel bad. It was an opportunity for me to make stronger Catholics and perhaps excite them to renew what they already knew but had forgotten. For about 90 percent of the participants I could see their eyes locked upon me and listening. I knew I had done my job when I gave them a “pop quiz” at the end and they were shouting-out the answers, chuckling, and having a good time.
So, for catechists, it might be good idea to get a “feel” for your crowd before delving into the topic at hand. Where are they in their knowledge? Do you need to help them refresh their memories? Make it an opportunity to bring them up to speed and do it in a kind, fun way. The reward is that you will probably help solidify a good Catholic in their faith knowledge.
Copyright 2017 Michael T Carrillo