Teaching the Faith

Here is an article reviewing a split perception of what “Catholic” Universities do to the faith of their Catholic charges.

The money quote…

The CARA report now suggests that Catholics at non-Catholic schools tend to fare worse as far as fidelity and practice goes. But the larger issue is that Catholic higher education simply can’t bear all the weight of passing on the faith.

Parents and families are the greatest single influence on a young person’s faith, experts note, and the deterioration of family life often leaves Catholic students religiously adrift even as dioceses, parishes and the shrinking priesthood are increasingly ill-equipped to take up the slack.

In teaching the faith there are always two components. There is the academic stuff, the faith that is believed. I bring out what in the modern world is a dirty word, the dogma or doctrines of a church. Those are the content of what a church teaches. Then there is the actual faith. Not the faith that is believed, but the faith that believes. This is most definitely taught. Most importantly that faith is taught by God through the work of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:3, John 6:45). That faith is also most clearly taught through the parents. God works through means. He can work directly, but more often in this world through his agents – in teaching faith through parents. (Prov 22:6, Deut 6:7, Eph 6:4)

This teaching is the fundamental work of a congregation. The commission in Matt 28:18-20 is to make disciples. Our congregations are the kingdom. They are the seed-bed where teaching and learning takes place. Both the academic kind, and the living kind.

The article ends with what is essentially a prayer. “Viewed from that perspective, perhaps Catholic colleges should be praised for providing young Catholics a sanctuary and incubator for at least some of the tenets of their faith until, let us hope, these men and women help birth a wider Catholic culture to better support their own children.” That culture the author is praying for only comes from the faith that believes. We don’t built monuments and institutions, as important as it is, to doctrines or things we firmly grasp. We build them to the transcendent Christ – the author and perfecter of our faith (i.e. the one who lived it perfectly). And how was that exactly. He feared, loved and trusted God the Father above all things. Enough to carry the cross and commit his spirit. The living Faith of Jesus.

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