In a typically inscrutable column for the Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati, “nationally recognized catechetical leader and author” Jeanne Hunt presents us with a false choice of which should come first, conversion or catechesis. She predictably chooses the first and then never bothers even to address the second, other than dismissively, when she claims that many Catholic parents have “memorized the rules of religion but have sparse knowledge of the cause for such devotion.” Has any Catholic under 60 really spent too much time memorizing aspects of their Faith? I’m in my mid-40s, and doubt 1-in-10 Catholic parents my age can name the Ten Commandments. And yet Ms. Hunt claims to be mystified that young Catholics, i.e., the children of my peers, are turning away from the Faith in droves. How are they supposed to stay converted to Christ if they don’t get to know Him? Heaven forbid they should memorize anything. In any event, what got my attention was this paragraph near the end:
So, what has gone wrong? Just a few generations ago, everyone was “God-fearing.” Our families were immersed in faith. We prayed together. We went to the Catholic parish for education, social life, prayer, and devotion. All around us were the witnesses of wonderful, faith-filled people. We met Jesus at every turn. He was the unseen guest in all of our homes.
She then fast-forwards to today, when many parents fear they “cannot give what they do not have.” Shouldn’t this be where catechesis kicks in? Ms. Hunt doesn’t seem to recognize that between “a few generations ago” and now, there were at least two generations (generation being defined as ~ 15 years) of Catholics schooled in burlap-&-butterfly catechesis. Thankfully, in 2013 we have marvelous resources available to help parents and catechists, e.g., the universal Catechism, the Compendium, the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, Fr. Barron’s Catholicism video series. Again, you can’t really love someone you don’t know. Which is why conversion and catechesis go hand-in-hand; “both/and” and all that. This is only as hard as we make it.