Posted by: Thomas Richard | February 25, 2010

How’s the Catechesis in Your Church?

The years of inadequate catechesis given to our children, in the decades following the post-Vatican II upheaval, have yielded their troubling harvest: adults in the Church today do not know their Faith.  This clear fact is (or ought to be) very troubling.  But there is another even more troubling consequence: young men and older men who sense a call to the priesthood have also come out of that same doctrinally shallow pool.

Men seeking to serve the Church as priests have presented themselves to seminaries, with very poor foundations in the Faith.  They have had superficial if not also erroneous formations as Catholic boys and young men.  The first thing they need in seminary is remediation – taking basic courses in the Catechism – which of course takes precious time out of their academic curriculum.  These men, after a compressed priestly formation in seminary, soon find themselves not only ordained priests but quickly, because of the priest shortage, they become pastors.  As young and premature pastors,  they find themselves overseeing the formation and pastoral care of hundreds if not thousands of Catholic families.  And again, because of the priest shortage, the demands on their time and energies as pastor leave very little time or energy to try to “fill in” the gaps left in their formation and spiritual development.  We have not yet seen the full consequences of this on the Church, but it does not look good.

The situation in the Church reminds me of the parallel situation in the secular world in families: children having children; parents who still need to be parented – parents lacking the maturity or wisdom that their children deserve and need.  Thus the whole culture regresses.  Even in politics: we look at irrationalities in our government’s policies and plans and we wonder, where are the adults?  Can we not get some adult supervision here?  Are the inmates taking over the asylum completely?  How has it come to this?

The Church was sent to be light in this dark world, but the Church has problems of her own.  Where are the pastors?  Where are the Bishops?  Where is the spiritual maturity to guide us toward the treasure entrusted to our Church?  Where is the catechesis for our lay adults to help them form solid and faithful Catholic families?  The house is in need of repair, and when will the work begin?  We don’t merely need fresh paint – the foundations are solid, but there are major structural defects and weaknesses.  What will happen when the winds pick up?  What will happen when the storms hit?  When torrents come upon us, and the whole house is pressed hard upon, what will happen when so many hardly know their right hand from their left?  Indeed, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith upon the earth?”

The Church needs to awaken.  Bishops and priests have a great responsibility, because their spiritual children are in great and serious need – and many do not know it, not the fathers, not the children!  May God stir and arouse us, and soon.



  1. Dear Thomas,

    The situation in the Church and the world, as you have pointed out, is in great need of saints! God knows the needs of all His people and His grace is sufficient for us. He has always raised up saints in periods of history to help His Church to shine more brightly. May each of us take seriously the graces God is giving us.

    Let us take seriously our obligation to pray. Let us listen to God’s Truth and by His Grace, let us do the Truth we hear, lovingly — each one of us. We are as strong as our weakest member so we need to pray for one another, as well as for ourselves.

    In this year dedicated to Prayer for Priests, I hope all of us are praying especially for the men God has called, and those He continues to call, into His Priesthood. I was so grateful to read Pope Benedict XVI’s words to priests in Rome, reminding them of their need to pray for their people, and to become more in touch with their people’s deepest needs. — just as Jesus has compassion on us.

    St. Catherine wrote in her Dialogues these words she heard from Jesus:

    “Never cease offering me the incense of fragrant prayers, for the salvation of souls, for I want to be merciful to the world. With your prayers, and sweat , and tears, I will wash the face of my bride, holy Church.”

    May God enable us each to become the saint He intended in creating us. May we work with Christ to do as He said, “…wash the face of my bride, holy Church.”

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