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Ramiro Pellitero Iglesias,,,

A "Decalogue" for Education in the faith

Let's think of a piano, whose structure and functioning the artist must know sufficiently to make his music. 

Mon, 29 Jul 2013 08:18:00 +0000 Published in

Our time requires a "leap of quality" in the Education of the lived faith. Benedict XVI coined the expression "educational urgency" for today's status (cf. Message to the Diocese of Rome on the urgent task of Education, 21-I-2008); and he referred specifically to the "religious illiteracy" that is spreading in our society (cf. Homily 5-IV-2012).

            Well, just as the dimensions of the person must be reflected in the Education , the "Education of faith" must adequately reflect the elements, contents and dimensions of the Christian faith. Let us think of a piano, whose structure and functioning the artist must know sufficiently to be able to make his music: he must know the keys, the chords, the possibilities to achieve a good harmony.

The encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis' first encyclical, affirms that "faith without truth does not save": it remains a beautiful fable or mere sentiment (cf. n. 24). And the truth of the faith is that which the Church transmits in her "livingreport " through the Creed, the sacraments, the commandments and prayer (cf. chapter three). Therefore one cannot select only what seems easier to accept, for the faith is like a body or a living organism that requires all its members (cf. n. 48, from agreement with St. Irenaeus and J. H. Newman).

Various historical and cultural factors are contributing to the fact that, in our days, it is not easy for educators (fathers and mothers of families, catechists, teachers, priests, etc.) to know the harmony of the music they have to make.) to know the harmony of the music they have to make: the relativism that pervades the environment, an agnosticism that distrusts to reach the truth, the negative consequences of the secularization process, the lack of reflexes of a good part of contemporary theology, the absence of mediators between the academic field and the people in the street, the anti-witnesses and scandals of some Christians, the globalizing capacity of the present time with its advantages and disadvantages, etc.

Like result we are currently observing tendencies to remain in the high or low notes of our piano educational. Thus we are witnessing a Education that sometimes falls into the nets of environmental relativism and secularism, as a consequence of the rationalism that has moved in the West towards consumerism and nihilism. On the other hand, perhaps because of the law of the pendulum, we sometimes witness a Education with a fideistic and rigorist, spiritualistic and individualistic tendency, also heir to certain deformations predominant in recent centuries. 

And so, although many educators make an effort and really achieve more than acceptable results, it often happens that some or many keys are missing in this piano, or are not in tune, or the artist does not know them at all, or does not know how to fully interpret the score. And we must admit that it is not easy.

Here is a "decalogue educational" for the Education in the faith, whose elements should be present in every area of Christian Education (beginning with the family, with the financial aid of the school, the parish, groups, movements and other ecclesial realities). We could point out for each of them abundant bibliography documents and experiences in the life of the Church and of the saints.

We list them now simply, with some reference letter to the encyclical Lumen fidei, as guidelines for their reading and study, also in view of the educational task.

1. The Christian anthropology that leads to living and educating in the Church, the family of God (cf. nn. 27ff, at reference letter on the link between truth and love; nn. 37ff, regarding the Church and the transmission of the faith; nn. 47-49 on the unity and integrity of the faith; in connection with the family, cf. nn. 52ff).

2. Beauty as a "method" or way for the Education of faith (cf. n 35, in relation to the search for God).

3. The biblical Education or catechesis (cf. especially the whole of chapter one).

4. The liturgical and sacramentalEducation (cf. nn. 40-45).

5. The moral life as a response to the love of God which is reflected in love of neighbor (cf. n. 46).

            6. The social doctrine of the Church in the broad sense, that is, social sensitivity as an essential dimension of Christian life (cf. nn. 54-57: faith as a light for life in society and a comforting force in suffering).

7. Prayer as a trusting dialogue with God that unites us with Jesus and under the action of the Holy Spirit leads us to God the Father, while at the same time drawing us out of ourselves (cf. n. 29 on the "listening" that faith requires; n. 30 on contemplation of the life of Jesus; and n. 46 on the Lord's Prayer as model of prayer).

8. Apostolic, evangelizing or missionary zeal, even as a child. Children are supported in their incipient faith by their parents or godparents (cf. n. 43). "Whoever confesses the faith is involved in the truth he confesses" (n. 45). The commandments of God's Law lead to "entering into dialogue with God, allowing oneself to be embraced by his mercy in order to be a bearer of his mercy" (n. 46).

9. Holiness in the ordinary life of the family, work, social relationships, etc...: Faith is accompanied by true love, which "unifies all the elements of the person and becomes a new light towards a great and full life" (n. 27); "The light of faith enables us to appreciate the richness of human relationships, their capacity to be sustained, to be reliable, to enrich common life. Faith does not separate us from the world, nor is it alien to the concrete concerns of the people of our time" (n. 51).

10. The interdisciplinarywork , aimed at proposing in the different subjects of the school teaching the lights that they receive from the faith in the Creator and Redeemer God, also for the true dignity of man that this faith confirms and clarifies. To achieve this interdisciplinary Education of faith requires educators to elaborate concrete projects in the subjects that allow religion to enter into dialogue with ethics and reason, in order to contribute together to the common good of people, open to transcendence.

(Faith illuminates the path of the history of each person and of the world - cf. n. 28 -, benefits the scientific endeavor, stimulates the critical sense, encourages the research and broadens the horizons of reason, cf. n. 34).