PIUS VIII & LOYAL READERS: What must we do to gain the happiness of Heaven?
BALTIMORE CATECHISM: To gain the happiness of Heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.
Why, thank you, Friend Baltimore; you will reappear later on, We promise. So, we all must know, love, and serve God. Now it’s Our hunch that the order of those three is more than merely alphabetical. You serve someone because you love him; and you cannot love someone you do not know. Ergo, our friend Baltimore and a little on-the-spot logic have concluded that the first and most important question we should ask ourselves is: are we making sure that the faithful know God?
The Church has ensured that her members may come to know her Founder 1) through the Sacred Liturgy, which expresses the Church’s lex credendi, and 2) through the Christian education of her little children. As to number 1, well, there’s a reason We mentioned it first, but We are glad to see that the topic has already been addressed last week (and will continue to be covered) in depth by several Pii more knowledgeable than Ourselves. As to number 2, well, since no one ever prays to this Pius, We have had plenty of spare time to pay special attention to the current educational situation. And, in short ... +[[[:-(
We see modern catechetical textbooks. We see problems. Even at the middle school level, they are picture books. Now this wouldn’t even be all bad, if said pictures comprised lots of
instead of lots of
Illustrations like the first one clearly can convey the explicit truths of the Catholic Faith. But the other "trendier" and "cooler" pictures speak nothing of the supernatural; they are corny and students know it; they usually even depict questionable degrees of Christian modesty. (Apparently no one listened to you either, XI.) Much the same with the remainder of the typical CCD book: colorful sidebars, implicit canonizations of non-Catholic social workers, “Confirmation projects” like planting a garden, wonderful suggestions for background music during class, etc. … all apparently intended to apologize to the students, “Sorry about these doctrines and stuff in the appendix; religion is actually quite FUN!” In short, publishers feel compelled to make a catechetical textbook look and read (and in Our opinion, smell) just like a hip modern textbook for any other subject; a veritable television-in-a-book.
As for the text, sometimes it is frankly not bad. This still renders the surrounding visual barrage most unfortunate, as it puts the truths of the Holy Faith on par with the Letter of the Day on Sesame Street. Far worse and far more common are the texts simply filled with copious amounts of nothing; and worst of all are those of the kind that ask their fifth-grade users to make up their own Eucharistic Prayers and share them with the class. (We kid you not. And this without any surrounding explanation of the Mass.)
In short, dear Baltimore Catechism, the books of today are everything that you are not: long-winded, inefficient, elusive, vapid, cutesy, banal, and condescending. And in view of this, We hereby forcefully deny that a conscientious catechist would commit sinful disobedience by, umm, “supplementing” his assigned textbook with your wonderful questions and answers. (N.B., We here speak Our mere opinion, based upon Our own painfully disappointing observations. We are by no means speaking ex cathedra. We don’t even have a cathedra to speak ex anymore.)
These are Our doleful complaints. The most important knowledge that is available to the mind of the child—upon which hangs the earthly and eternal happiness of its pending students—is somehow expected to be taught to children from circus-books, by catechists who unfortunately were “taught” in the exact same way. And thus we have a most discouraging cycle all set in place.
We are tempted to think that We have been rather good at diagnosing this entire catechetical problem—but that is, after all, very easy to do. There must still be further underlying causes behind this problem, We are sure, probably involving the lack of Priests in the classroom combined with the advent of silly pop-psychology. But you already knew that those are bad. Nonetheless, We here repeat Our cry: the most necessary requirement for leading the wandering faithful to eternal happiness, if we still believe in Truth and Hell and things like that, is to ensure that they all know God, know Who He is, and know what He has taught through His Church; and only then can they come to love Him and serve Him, and thus gain the happiness of Heaven.
The battlefield, then, is the classroom. “… Students’ minds and morals are molded by the precepts of the teachers.” (Yours truly.) The very fact that you have visited a blog run by deceased, heresy-hunting, modernism-hating Vicars of Christ probably means that you should be on that battlefield. Side by side with reverent and literally awesome liturgy, it is solid instruction at an early age that must reawaken the faithful to the precious knowledge of Our Lord and of His Church’s beautiful deposit of Faith.