“There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your strength, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” he replied to him, “You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28I had a conversation with a friend today about the religious ed program that her children attend. She was irritated by the person in charge but also because her children were being taught by teens. Now, this isn’t an unusual practice and there are many, many teens that do a great job but the ones she references don’t fall into that category. Since I had a similar experience last year, I am inclined to believe her. But the thing that struck with me is the common belief that what a religious ed program can offer the children about God is more than what the parents can offer. She said to paraphrase, “I want them to believe in God, I want them to grow up to be nice people and to be good citizens”.In the passage above, the scholar of the law in an attempt to test Jesus asks what it requires to get into heaven, Jesus tells him his understanding is right, to love God and neighbor. Wait?? Isn’t that what my friend just said?? Remember, “I want them to believe in God and be good people?” Somewhere along the way, people have been given the impression that only the scholars of the law (in this case Cathecist) know all the answers. I believe that the benefit of these programs is not that the other people know more about God, but because they reinforce the message that the parent is trying to send. But there are many cathecist who make parents feel inept about their religious parenting, (though grant you some parents could raise the standard), but there are more who genuinely want to accompany the child on the journey (and almost all is done voluntarily). I think it needs to be clarified that when a child goes to religion they are learning about the practice of their faith…not simply about God. To them, the love and care that the parent gives is how they come to know God. Their faith on the other hand, well the teachers may know more but then again maybe not, as we were saying.But I send my own kids because they hear a different voice, they get a different view, (not better or worse but different). But I also send them for the community. We Catholics struggle with real community but that is who we are as humans. Social beings; in need of challenging and support. Church communities give that if you invest a little. My kids consider their parish home. They are loved and looked after. They are supported and cared about. But they in turn support and care about others. We need a lot of work as far as community goes and even more as far as how we engage our kids in their faith but we are trying. We have to make it a priority because in the world they live in, without rock solid foundations things will be even more difficult for them to navigate. We owe them the opportunity to learn from where they came and that they are loved.I struggle with a lot that the church says and does, but if I am honest even in my anger I have to admit that it is where I learned to always believe in God and to love my neighbor. So if we get away from the legalism as Jesus calls us to do, we will see that at the heart of our faith is the Eucharist, the Trinity and the divine love of our God.You don’t need to be a scholar to see that.So today, I pray for all the parents who are trying to do what they feel is right for thier children, for all of the Cathecists that take time and energy to be present to the next generation of followers and for those who have power in the institutional church that they genuinely welcome all people and not just those who think the same way.
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Wife, mother, blogger. Director of Faith Formation at an upstate inner city Catholic parish. Have facilitated adult faith groups. I love to garden even when it goes wrong. Same with writing...and we know it can go wrong. But here is where my love of God and love of writing intersect.