Adult Faith Formation
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Adult Faith Formation

What is Adult Faith Formation?


A quote often accredited to Mark Twain states:


Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sale away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds under your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover. Those lines can encourage any of us to live life and not to sit by the sidelines. Each day on this earth brings new adventures and new challenges. We meet new people, hear new stories, engage in new conversations, encounter new problems or joys, and in the process, we learn from them. Learning is a life-long activity. All the social scientists tell us that this is true. That doesn’t mean, however, that one must stay in school and amass numerous degrees, though sometimes those are helpful. One of the most educated men I know is my 94-year old father-in-law, who never went beyond high school, but never stopped reading and never stopped investigating new ways of doing things or new ways of exploring. He devours National Geographic and the History Channel.  He loves the beauty of this earth.  Or then, there's one of our daughters, who decided a few years ago she'd like to know what it was like to jump out of an airplane and go sky-diving.  Adult Faith Formation is like that type of learning about our God.

Liz.skydiving.two-300px The American bishops wrote a document a few years back, entitled: “Our Heart Are Burning Within Us”. They took their cue from the Emmaus story about how two disciples learned from Jesus on their journey (Luke 24:32). In that document, the bishops attest that catechesis in the Christian faith is primarily about adult learning. They wrote in paragraph 5:

 Adult faith formation by which people consciously grow in the life of Christ through experience, reflection, prayer, and study, must be “the central task in this catechetical enterprise,” becoming “the axis around which revolves the catechesis of childhood and adolescence as well as that of old age.”

 Today, that means that our efforts to catechize or evangelize should be directed first toward adults. And since we know adults learn in varieties of ways, so efforts to teach or efforts to learn must couched in a variety of mediums. This website hopes to offer a few of those. For some, they may touch God through nature, and marvel at the rhythm of the seasons and cycles of the growing earth. Planting and harvesting may put them in touch with their Creator. For others, working with animals may afford them clearer insights as to the design of life on this earth. Cooking, baking and preserving food, especially for one’s family and loved ones may be another way that puts people in touch with a loving parent God. Paying attention to one’s carbon footprint and ecologically sustaining this planet may put others in touch with the One who designed the universe. And working for justice among our neighbors may put a real “face” to the Holy One for others. For Christians, learning always begins with prayer. To that end, there will be other links to prayer-filled websites scattered throughout this website to which one may visit and pause for reflection. The Carmelite sisters in Rhode Island, for one, dedicate their lives to prayer and have much to teach us. The Benedictine brothers embody Benedict’s motto of “ora et labore” or “pray and work.” They are models in sustainability, living off the land and rebuilding it. The Irish Jesuits introduce us to one of the oldest forms of prayer with the “lectio divino,” or reflections on Scripture.  Those and many others will be offered for our consideration.



The Book Of Psalms

One of the richest sources for not only prayer, but also learning is the Book of Psalms. It is the prayer book of the Bible. Pope Benedict XVI has even written how we can learn to pray by using the psalms (there is a link to his comments), and it is noteworthy to understand that not only do Christians use the Psalms, but the Jews were first to use the psalms as their prayerbook and Muslins as well utilize them in their Islamic Zabur.

Consequently, there will be a few regular columns at Mystical Ventures (MV) that explore the psalms. One began out of our parish choir. Each week, the choir rehearsed the upcoming psalm for Sunday liturgies and I started doing a brief exegesis on the psalm and how it often connects the other readings of the day. Choir members liked them, so I thought other choirs, RCIA groups (Rite of Christian Initiation, or those preparing for baptism) and other adult groups might like them as well. Always limited to two pages, “Psalms in theLectionary” will post sometime on Sunday evening of each week for the following weekend.

Since we do share the Book of Psalms with our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, there will be an occasional column on the interfaith insights we might gain if we listen to how the “other” approaches prayer, the psalms, a sustainable life and stewardship of this earth.

Another option for adult learning will be to acquaint ourselves better with The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).  The CCC was published in 1992 and hailed as a compendium of Catholic belief, teaching and practice.  Years ago, after seeing the success of RCIA, a number of catechetical leaders began to design lectionary-based catechetical programs for children.  The Lectionary is the selection of Scripture that is used each Sunday  and each weekday in the Church.  One of the things that was noticed was that in trying to cover as much of Catholic teaching as possible with the Lectionary, it was helpful to pay attention and use the Scriptural Appendix in the Catechism. Every Scripture passage used in the Catechism was listed in that appendix.

So there was a way to connect the Catechism to Scripture. To that end, this website will also feature a weekly “Catechism Connections” column in which one of Sunday readings will be paired with one paragraph in the Catechism. Over the course of a year, one may become more familiar with the Catechism and get more comfortable with its writing style and content.  One may also begin to understand how two thousand years of development and practice in Christianity have interpreted certain Scripture passages in our day.  Those short columns will post sometime Monday evenings for the upcoming weekend.

In 2006, the American bishops also released The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. This text took the general Catechism and developed chapters that focused on specific teachings and how those teachings intersected with the American culture. Each chapter contains stories, lessons, sidebars, doctrinal statements questions for discussion, meditation and prayer. It is a user-friendly, parish-friendly text. MV will highlight one particular chapters of the USCCA, approximately one per month in a regular column entitled: USCCA Highlights, and will post upcoming events, like podcasts on particular chapters.

Pope-Benedict-XVI 6-px300The scriptures tell us we do not eat by bread alone, (Matt 4:4; Dt. 8:3) and that its true, but we do have bodies that need physical nourishment. To that end, there will be regular columns of Recipes for foods, season by season, often coming from the garden.   Canning and preserving food will be included and sharing food as gifts will be explored as well.  Benedictine Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette’s cookbooks, which weave cooking and baking through the seasons of the year and the seasons of the Church are wonderful, will also be highlighted.




"Learning to Pray with the Psalms"   

Last but not least, there will be regular columns about The Lives of the Saints.  MV will utilize two different hagiographies (stories of life and prayers and contributions of the saints), write one of our own each month, and point to some wonderful authors who have studied and incorporated the teachings of the lives of the saints into their own.  For Catholics, Saints are like our big brothers or sisters who have gone before us to God.  They have left us examples.  They have figured out a path and if we but ask, they will share their insights with us and intercede to God on our behalf.

 We will also learn more about stewardship and caring for this earth with regular columns on organic farming and a sustainable way to live and grow and use the the earth's resources and how to care for farm animals entrusted to us by their Creator.

So, let us begin!!!















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