Guvnur wrote about this a few days ago, but I wanted to add my two cents worth to the discussion…
As a convert, and of the worst kind… zealous, I am always studying the faith. I have a pretty decent library of apologetics and theology books on my shelf for only being in the Church for two years. I’d like to think that I have a better understanding of the Faith than 90-95% of my fellow pew-sitters. I take seriously Christ’s last command to the Apostles to go and teach all nations. When I went through RCIA in my parish, I was initially “auditing” so that I would be better able to raise my daughters in their faith. Fortunately for me, I had a conversion moment when the priest was talking about the Real Presence. From that point on, I was devouring all I could find on the internet, especially at Catholic Answers.
Hmmn… In RCIA, yet studying on the internet?
Yep. Because we have a horrible lack of good catechetical materials in our parish. I already knew that Catholics had been poorly catechized for years. I thought it was a lack of effort on their part, but soon came to realize that it’s also a lack of good, orthodox learning materials. Our RCIA program is so light on substance at times, I want to scream. We cover things at a level that my 1st (soon to be 2nd) and 4th (soon to be 5th) graders could easily handle. I think adults can and should be expected to handle more.
My proof of this?
The Baltimore Catechisms Guvnur found. They were designed for the age group my girls are in now and they both thought it was fantastic. My oldest started to devour this book. This was more than she was being taught in class at a Catholic school. This series had more depth in my opinion than what we covered in RCIA. 40 years ago, children were expected to learn more than we expect our adult converts to know!
RCIA now seems to be based more on experiences. How do you experience God in your life? How does this Scripture speak to you? Etc. While that is a good spiritual approach to your Faith, is it really the best way to TEACH the Faith? I think it sends the message the Faith can be defined in terms that you are comfortable with. That is dangerours. While we did cover doctrines such as the Real Presence and other fundamentals, these most often seemed to be a secondary thing. Well, we have to cover some basic facts, so here they are. Now let’s talk about how you feel about this touchy-feely prayer I found!
To me you need to get the doctrines and dogmas and their meanings down before you get into some of this stuff. You need a well-formed conscience and a well formed understanding of the Faith in order to pursue an authentic Catholic spirituality I believe. You may be able to get there without that intellectual background, but I wonder if it’s not accidental and rare?
Can you be a spiritually alive Catholic and reject the Real Presence, support abortion, fetal stem cell research, gay marriages, remarriage after divorce, etc. etc. etc.? I am not saying our RCIA program directly or indirectly said you could. But it seems like the whole point is often that God forgives everything even if you aren’t truly repentant. Or that you can’t commit a sin if you pray over it first and convince yourself you are doing the right thing.
There was a time in this country that our Faith was passed on with integrity. We used tools like the Baltimore Catechism. When these tools were discarded after the theological dissenters took hold of implementing Vatican II, all hell seems to have broken loose. Much of the dissenters’ agenda has been discredited (though it still lives on somehow), but we still struggle to pass on the Faith properly, because we bought into the idea that the old ways are either forbidden or never worked in the first place.
I say these things are lies. Damned lies. The Baltimore Catechism didn’t cause the problems we have now. Nor did Vatican II. Dissenters in the schools, universities and priesthood got us here. Now we need to return to our theological roots and reclaim the faith and the catechesis of our children and adults.