Monday, February 08, 2010

Another rant's Monday, bear with me. The past few days at work have been intense with training for 40 Days for Life. We had a marvelous speaker, Fr. Lawrence, of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Thrown into the mix was Catholic Schools Week (when we finally had school after a few days of snow cancellation) and Catholic Underground. It was an intense four days. Oh, and it rained and rained and rained. Catholic Underground became Catholic Underwater, quipped one friend.

I opened my e-mail Inbox this morning and lo, and behold, I received an email from RCIA resources for Lent. Don't get me wrong, it's good to know what the resources are out there for the Lenten season. Lent is a mysterious time. And if your liturgy is same old, same old (like emptying holy water fonts and replacing water with cacti and stones, etc.) it will be hard to sustain the interior meaning of Lent.

One of the terms that has always grated on my nerves in RCIA lingo is "breaking open the Word". What in the heck is that? It always invokes images of a sledgehammer on concrete. Who wields that sledgehammer? Is there some secret power that this person receives? From whom?

Breaking open the Word....that is so lame! Is there some Rosetta Stone that somehow is the key to understanding scripture? RCIA should be a time of studying the Bible anyway. Shouldn't RCIA leaders and participants be opening Scripture and the Catechism at the weekly sessions? Shouldn't the texts be side-by-side? You know those footnote thingies in the Catechism? They're full of scriptural references. It is a great idea to actually read them in context. Toss out the silly Catholic Updates and Powerpoint presentations.

If you're not doing this at your parish, you're missing out! AND, you should also have the Church Fathers handy. RCIA should be a time when you are training catechumens and candidates to grapple with primary texts. Seriously. Really. Teach them to think in the mind of the Church. This isn't about "faith sharing" or "personal improvement". This is about Truths Revealed. You might not get the "numbers" but you'll get solid Catholics. The kind that actually, after RCIA, keep going to Mass and Confession.

What are we doing for Lent in RCIA? Studying Catholic Moral Theology. We've already lost some people during the year, but this is about conversion, not parading people during the Scrutinies as prize monkeys. Each person that is still in RCIA has had to wrestle with serious theological issues. A couple of them have been through RCIA before. One thing that I've learned in teaching RCIA is that it is the Holy Spirit who does the actual heavy lifting in conversion. I am a tool. It is my job to first of all, be a faithful Catholic. Second to study. Third to be converted myself. Daily dying to self and living for Christ. That way, I can have the eyes of faith to recognize that the enemy does not like Lent and steps up attacks against the persons who are coming closer to initiation into the Church.

Pray, pray, pray. If you're not involved in the adult catechesis in your parish, consider offering a Holy Hour or praying the rosary or fasting for the catechumens and candidates. Your RCIA team will thank you for it. Even if they don't know that you're doing it, nevertheless, your prayers are essential. Pray for the team members that they each may grow in charity and fortitude. They get attacked, too.


Anonymous said...

"breaking open the Word".


This is hippie speak.

I remember from my bad old days terms like "cracking open a cold one"
"pop me open a bud" [a reference to marijuana]

It is base and banal jargon, pure and simple.
The same thing that has made our Liturgy disintegrate for the past several decades.
"Lets put our ear to the ground and listen to the tom-tom beat of the world and make the Church more like that"
As opposed to bringing the world to the Church [Christ] and giving the world the "Mass of the Catechumens".
Breaking open the word...
Pass me the water bong.

Fr PF said...

Dear Argent,
St Paul of the Cross speaks not of "breaking open the Word" (whatever that means) but of "breaking the bread of God's Word", which seems to make much more sense:
"No brother of this least Congregation may use in his preaching so lofty and elegant a style that it might render his message obscure to the poor people. Rather they should break the bread of God’s word with clarity and devotion, so that it might be more effective for penetrating hearts, and for promoting the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls."
(St Paul of the Cross, Passionist Rule of 1736)

Anonymous said...

Hi Argent,

Breaking Open The Word does sound silly but it may be a rather poor allusion to Luke 24:45-"He opened their minds to the understanding of Scripture." The Greek word διανοίγω (dianoigō) can have the meaning of "splitting or dividing so as to open," but its basic meaning is "to open thoroughly." I guess LUKE: A BIBLICAL STUDY sounds too common for those who market such things.

Rob said...

-What are we doing for Lent in RCIA?-

Whatever you do, don't forget to remove all the holy water and replace it with sand. We are in a spiritual desert, after all.

OK, I think I've just about purged all the smarminess in my system. I'll be serious next time. Promise.