Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fr. Perrone's Monday Night Catechism Begins October 7

Most years, Fr. Perrone teaches the Catholic Catechism to anyone who wants to sit in on it, most especially those considering the Catholic faith.  He explains why he uses this approach.  It has been quite popular.  Many parishioners choose to sit in on it to hear him teach about the faith.  I can tell you that when I sat in on this, two years in a row, the discussion, at times, was lively.  It's mostly a lecture format, but he allows people to ask questions.  I've seen some serious curve balls thrown at him, and he answers them with ease.  Fr. Perrone, while a secular priest, is also a secular Carmelite and the chaplain of our community at Assumption Grotto.  His understanding of spiritual development works it's way in along with the book knowledge.  Here is what he writes in the Grotto News:

Most every year of my priesthood I have taught an adult convert class. This year I will begin the yearly series on October 7, Monday evening, at 6:00 p.m. in the school. As has been my custom, I open these classes to anyone who has interest in the Catholic faith, including Catholics who may want to brush up on their doctrine.

Many parishes have RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) programs which are intended for prospective converts. Behind such parish programs is the Church’s ritual for adult baptism consisting of stages of incorporation into the Church’s life, culminating at baptism. Clearly, this is a sacramental scheme, a succession of ritual steps aimed at full membership in the Church by baptism and confirmation. The RCIA was not intended for the conversion of someone whose baptism in another religion is presumed valid. Yet, in the practical order, these already-baptized people are often placed in the same group with the unbaptized for sheer convenience in the limited resources possible for a parish. But this again is not the purpose behind the RCIA. Unfortunately, when parishes began to implement these rites (RCIA) they at the same time abandoned catechetical instruction in favor of bible classes (for lack of a better term). Thus, in the formation of potential converts (both non-baptized and the baptized of some other religious group), necessary doctrinal foundation in the Catholic faith which defines what it means to be a Catholic Christian, was lacking. The resulting doctrinal illiteracy of adults formed in these programs parallels that of many children in many a parish program who were similarly given little to any foundation in Catholic truth. Behold the product: the ignorant, uneducated, untutored, unenlightened, know-nothing Catholic! We have them today by the many thousands. Is it any wonder that we have as a result that hideous anomaly The Dissenting Catholic?

As a proposed remedy, I have always insisted on giving converts doctrinal classes which aim at feeding of the mind with truth. It’s all well and good to read the bible–for which an entire lifetime is insufficient–and to have meaningful ceremonies of progressive entry into the Church. But if the prospective candidate knows next to nothing of what Church he is entering, it makes all the rest meaningless, if not absurd. The normal life-course for a Christian is first faith (the knowledge of God) and then charity and grace, leading up to, in hope, eternal life. One cannot enter that “race” unless he first knows God and then, as a gift conferred upon him, believes in all His truth. Charity will certainly accompany and follow but, once again, one cannot love a God unknown. Doctrinal instruction is crucial for the right development of the life of grace.

In our adult classes I do not aim at theological sophistication but at doctrinal accuracy and a grasp of the essentials. For this reason I use a rather elementary catechism and supply the remainder in my teaching–however limited I may be in that capacity. The goal is to turn out (or bolster already existing) staunch Catholic believers, knowledgeable and devout. This is primarily the work of God, one in which I am His unworthy collaborator.

Accurate instruction (doctrine) must ever be a necessary component in our experience of Catholic life. We need to have it in our reading, our prayers, our sermons, our political and social activity, as well as in our classes of the faith. Where this is lacking the results are predictable: confusion over what to believe, sentimentalism in our worship, laxity in Mass attendance, and a greater susceptibility to temptation. Orthodoxy–true teaching–thus feeds not only the mind but also the entire life of a Christian leading him, so long as obstacles do not impede, to the fullness of charity and an abundance of divine grace.

Any among you interested may come to the one-hour Monday night class. There is no cost for the course. Do tell potential converts and encourage them to attend, even if only to know something about the Catholic Church. A call to the rectory to pre-register is desirable. We will be using the tested-and-true Baltimore Catechism 3, with needed, updating information supplied in the teaching. Textbooks run $15 something; Confirmed Catholics do not necessarily need the book.

As they say so appealingly down South, “Y’all come now!”

Fr. Perrone

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