Apparitions and catechesis

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Given the limited time available for catechesis in most programs, do you think that the directors of these programs (or the individual catechists) should initiate discussion about or refer approvingly to not yet authenticated Marian apparitions?
Does it benefit teenagers - who (for example) don't even know (let alone understand) Church teachings on sexual morality or the Real Presence or how we are saved - to be referred to a webpage about (say) Medjugorje or similar events?
My understanding about pedagogy is that a basic idea is that you start with the basic foundation and then build on that. There are certain basics that one would hope all Catholics know and believe (the things that make us Catholic and not something else). Events like Medjugorje fall into the classification of private revelation - and are not dogma. I would hope that the priority of teaching would start with the CCC and the Bible taught in parallel. Once a child or a catechumen is grounded in those truths, then becomes the time to discuss private revelations. And I would hope that the discussion begins with those revelations that have been investigated and found 'not contrary to the faith'.
On another note - have any of you read the notes in the Catholic Youth Bible (NRSV, published by Saint Mary's Press)? It is being used in a local CCD and Confirmation class. I had occasion recently to read the note on Satan (book of Job) and on Ephesians 5 and I was just floored. (eg" the notion of Satan as an evildoer seems to have been borrowed from a similar figure in Persian religion" , "we should not interpret Eph 5:21 - 6:4 as commanding submissive behavior of married women today").
Any comments?


If you'll indulge me, I do in fact have a glimmer of a thought or 1 1/2. First, you've hit it regarding catechesis. There are fundamentals (hey, what's a 'Trinity' and how's it help me get a job?), which remain difficult and mysterious throughout our lives. Better, yes, to deal with the Gospel, it's implications for our lives, the wonder of the Eucharist, the beauty and misery of the Church. Other stuff will only confuse 'em.

Second, I think it's obvious that much of the imagery used for Satan was in fact taken from Persian sources, especially as we get into later writings in the OT and intertestamental stuff. This bothers me not a bit. The Spirit wrought something weirdly different out of diverse materials. It's a wonder the Biblical Historical Critics were able to make such a big deal out of something that Augustine and all the Gregories knew. As for the stuff about women and marriage... I plead the fifth.

It seems to me that if the book says, "the figure of Satan appears to be borrowed..." it should also point out that the fact the devil was very real to Christ, which immediately rules out any notion of writing Satan off.

On the second point about apparitions, that's an interesting question. Maybe only if the question comes up? My niece (first grade) saw a picture of Our Lady of Lourdes and asked if it was Mary and from there we had to explain the whole story. For some Catholics, (like William F. Buckley who goes to Lourdes often), it's a very strong part of their faith, partly because of the great thoroughness of the medical clinic in attempting to rule out fradulent cures.

My take on the Eph. 5 passage would be that of JPII in Mulieris Dignitatem. I think what the Bible's note says is approximately true, though oversimplified, and perhaps a bit distorted.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on April 18, 2004 9:43 PM.

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