Faith & Reason: Foundations of Faith Resources

Starting next Monday I will be beginning an adult education course “The Church in the Modern World.” This particular seven session series is titled, “Foundations of Faith.

The first class is Monday October 15, at 6:30 P.M. in Kertz hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jefferson City. The class is open to all adults.

 

The first week’s topic: Faith & Reason

Every week on Wednesday (this time on Monday) I hope to write a short post such as this introducing the topic and providing a .pdf with some readings to look at in advance if you are so inclined. It is by no means necessary to read the packet before the class. If you do have a chance to read it, please come ready with questions. If you can’t make it a given week, or you want to browse through other topics they all we available at this hub.

Faith & Reason: Reading Packet

Each of these packets will contain excerpts from various Church documents. Most of them should be available in their entirety at the Vatican’s web site: www.vatican.va

This week’s excerpts come from the following documents:

  • Sacred Scripture (the Bible)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Vatican I, Dei Filius (1870)
  • Vatican II, Dei Verbum (1965)
  • St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998)
  • Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (2013)

Lastly a few quick housekeeping notes as they are questions I’ve been asked a lot:

  1. The class is FREE
  2. You DO NOT need to register (though there will be chance to sign up for e-mails)
  3. Catholic teachers of any Catholic school in the Diocese of Jefferson City who are Level III Catechists can count these hours towards their ongoing formation. (There will be a special sign-in form for you to sign)
  4. Permanent deacons of the diocese can likewise count these towards ongoing formation.

See you on Monday!

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.

On Peter’s Pop Quiz

91618.png

This past week when I was visiting classes I noticed that the students are getting to the point in the quarter where they are beginning to take tests and quizzes. Gone are the fun days of August and handball, now it’s time to get to work. In many ways that dynamic is mirrored in Mark’s Gospel today. Last week we heard about Jesus healing and performing miracles. That’s the fun part, everybody loves a good miracle. Today, along the road, things get more difficult, Jesus gives the apostles a, “pop quiz.”

First there is the “multiple choice” part of the quiz. “Who do people say that I am? John the Baptist? Elijah? One of the Prophets? The Christ? Well it looks like Peter did a pretty good job with the multiple choice, he manages an “A” on that part of the quiz. However, on the second part of the quiz, the “short answer” part, he doesn’t do so well. But instead of writing, “F+” at the top of his paper, Jesus writes, “Get behind me Satan!”

Joking with the analogy aside, what does the story reveal to us about our relationship and knowledge with Jesus? By getting the multiple choice right, but not the short answer, he shows us that we all still have more to learn. As my favorite philosopher and theologian says, for every light of knowledge we gain into Christ, there is still an infinitely greater darkness. It’s true for all of us. We all have more to learn about Christ.

In terms of how to learn more about Christ, Jesus gives us a little clue later in the Gospel. He warns Peter that he was thinking “not as God thinks, but as human beings do.” Note, he doesn’t say “not as God memorizes, but as human beings do.” He says, “thinks.” This is why we must do more than just memorize the decades of the Rosary, the Commandments, the Sacraments, and the Beatitudes etc. We must learn to think deeper about these issues.

This is why when I taught high school I told the students, I don’t just want you to learn what the Church teaches, though I obviously want that, I really want you to learn how the Church thinks. I don’t want it to be well Fr. So-and-so said this, but Fr. So-and-So said that. I want you to be able to know what the Church says, and how the Church thinks. This is why they were so excited when I told them on the first day of class I would give them the final exam question. Every student, even me last year, wants to know what’s going to be on the exam. So they were thrilled when I told them I would give it to them up front. Then I told them, their exam would be just one question, “Connect the dots.” In other words, demonstrate how the Church thinks about these different issues and how they are connected by a common reasoning, a consistent way of thinking.

When adults heard about the class, they said they wanted to take it too. So in Columbia I launched an adult education class. I’m happy to announce that starting next month on October 15th, I’ll be launching the class here at IC in Jeff City, “The Church in the Modern World: Foundations of Faith.” This way you too can learn a little more about how to, “think as God thinks, not as humans do.” To that end, don’t worry, you’re not going to have to sit there and listen to me talk for an hour and a half.

For the first half hour or so, we will open up the floor for questions. It won’t be Q & A, but rather Q & Q. That is continuously asking more questions as we attempt to delve deeper into the issues, kind of like peeling back the layers on an onion. In the second half hour, I will present a summary of different Church texts, so you can see what the Church actually teaches about these issues, and not what someone says the Church teaches. In the last half hour, we’ll reopen the discussion to see how the first two parts work together, how it is that the Church attempts to answer some of the questions raised, how the Church thinks about these different issues.

This time around I’m doing seven weeks called, “Foundations of Faith,” with topics or issues chosen together with our parish education commission. In the Winter and Spring, I’ll open it up to everyone to help pick out the topics.

I want to conclude by way of a little bit of a preview of sorts, as the topic the first week will be “Faith and Reason.” I’ve been talking about learning to think, “not as God does, but as human beings do.” It’s important that in hearing that line we don’t create a false dichotomy where on one side there is how God thinks, and on the opposing side, how human beings think. Rather, we believe that human reason is a good. Furthermore, that it is a gift from God. So it isn’t about rejecting reason in the name of God, but rather allowing God, and faith rather to be infused with our reason. To allow them to elevate our reason to its fullest potential. In that way, while we like Peter, may not know everything, passing the multiple choice, but not the short answer, may begin start thinking as God does and not as human beings do.

 ChurchinModWorld poster

Announcing “Foundations of Faith” – Adult Faith Formation in Jefferson City

ChurchinModWorld poster.jpg

Have you ever found yourself during Mass wondering what something means as you listen to the Scriptures? Perhaps something the priest mentioned in a homily was unclear? Maybe you know you’re Catholic but you’re not sure why the Church teaches what she does on a number of pressing and important issues? Perhaps you want to be better able to explain to your friends what you and the Church believe? Or maybe you’re just curious.

Thankfully there is a solution arriving here in Jefferson City, Mo. Beginning on October 15, 2018, I will be offering an adult education, faith formation, catechesis, class, seminar, whatever you want to call it, and you are most welcome to attend. The classes will begin at 6:30 PM and will be held in Kertz Hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The course will be geared towards adults, that is anyone 18 & older.

I am titling the course, “The Church in the Modern World.” That is both a reference to Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes, as well as something broad enough for us to cover a wide variety of topics across different sessions.

I will be offering a six week session this fall. In the future, I plan to offer more 6-10 week sessions. Each of the sessions will be based on a particular theme as requested by those attending the class. Click here to see some potential future topics.

For this initial session I consulted our parish education commission and came up with the theme, “Foundations of Faith.” Our class topics will be:

October 15: Faith & Reason

October 22: Faith & Science

October 29: Revelation

November 12: Origins of Sacred Scripture

November 19: Scripture & Tradition

November 26: Jesus

December 7: Mary (N.B. – This is on a Friday as a part of the parish Advent Soup Supper)

It will not be a linear course in the sense it will not be necessary to attend every week, you can come and go as you please. I will also post readings and resources on this web site, though it will not be necessary to review them beforehand. Even if you can’t make it a given week, you’ll still have access to all of the resources found at this hub.

I look forward to seeing you on October 15th, let me know if you have any questions. Please help me spread the word. Below is a printable flyer you can print.

If you already know you want more information, click here, to send me an e-mail, and I’ll add you to the e-mail list.

Daily Reflection: 18 April 2017

Today’s readings can be found here.

Reflection:

Just like yesterday, today we continue with the resurrection accounts. Comparing today’s scene between Jesus and Mary Magdelene with today’s first reading from Pentecost helps us to better understand the relationship between faith and reason.

In the Gospel, Mary is distraught, so much so that she can’t even recognize Jesus. It is only when he calls her by name that she is able to see him. The way he said her name is what tipped her off that it really was Jesus. This is because she a deeply personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. He desires the same for you and me. What brings her to faith, to believe is a relationship and encounter with Christ.

In the first reading, Peter is preaching to the crowds. These will become some of the first Christians who did not know Jesus personally when he was walking on Earth. What leads them to believe? The testimony of Peter. Specifically it mentions that Peter made many arguments in defense or explanation of Christ. It is because of these arguments, this logic, or reason, that these people come to believe.

We see the crowds, and Mary Magdelene, who both believe in Jesus, but from different perspectives or motives. It is not that one group has faith and the other, reason. They both have faith and reason, as do you and I. It is not an either or, we are called to cultivate both gifts. We can have both a deeply personal and intimate relationship with God, and use our minds to better understand God, the Gospels, and the teachings of the Church. The readings today demonstrate not only our need for both but also different people will come to Christ through different means or motives.

How do I understand the relationship between faith and reason? What do I need to do to cultivate these gifts?

Adult Education Programming Update

First of all let me say how pleased I have been with the quality of conversation taking place every Thursday night at, “The Church in the Modern World” Adult Education class that I’ve been offering for about a month now here in Columbia, Mo.

One of the best things has been to see men and women from college age all the way through retirees gather in one place and seek to learn and dialogue together about their Catholic faith. Certainly, there are an abundance of professional and academic fields represented in the group, such a variety of experiences both presents it’s challenges but also enriches the experience. Personally, on a philosophical and pedagogical level, I enjoy the challenge of trying to weave the group together. I ask patience and forgiveness for any failures in that regard.

After conducting some balloting in the first few sessions, last week, when discussing revelation etc., I announced the upcoming topics. I failed to connect a few dots regarding the timing of spring break for the college students as well as Holy Week. After further discussion last night, I have decided on the following schedule for the upcoming weeks. I wanted to post an update so that all can have it written down and avoid confusion.

Thursday, March 30 (Spring Break) – Priesthood

Monday, April 10 (Holy Week) – The Mass & the Eucharist

Thursday, April 20 – Sexuality & Theology of the Body

Thursday, April 27 – Contraception

Thursday, May 4 – LGBT Issues & the Church’s Response

Thursday, May 11 – Reconciliation

Stay tuned for further updates.

If you are looking for information from past topics, please click here.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

March 9, 2017 Presentation Slides – Faith & Reason

Last night my new Catholic adult education course, “The Church in the Modern World” gathered for a second time. This time the numbers grew significantly. There were over 60 people in attendance. Once again a good mixture of college students, working professionals and retirees.

With all the ballots in both on paper and on-line, next week we will start a new topic. Stay tuned until Monday for the new resources and topic announcement.

For now, I wanted to provide my PowerPoint slides from last night. There are essentially a highlighted selection from the magisterial texts previously provided here.

March 9, 2017 Presentation Slides

March 2, 2017 Presentation Slides – Introduction and Faith & Reason

Last night I was so grateful to see 40 people show up to the first session of my new Catholic adult education series. The best part for me was to see college students, adult professionals and retirees all sitting side by side, learning and sharing together.

Since it was the first night, I dedicated the first half to explaining my background in fundamental theology and what exactly I was hoping for everyone to get out of the class.

From there we started to talk about the first topic, Faith & Reason. We had a good discussion as a group, I was particularly impressed with some of the examples brought in from the different professional and scientific fields. The variety of ages and professional/education background should prove to be enriching for all.

Next week we will do a full treatment of sorts on the topic of Faith & Reason. This week we only talked about the issues without making our way to the magisterial texts.

If you couldn’t make it this week, you’re more than welcome in future weeks. Also be sure to vote on-line for future topics.

Lastly, here are the slides from last night’s presentation, given the introductory nature of the class, the slides are equally lacking in substance, but if anyone is interested, I wanted to make them available.

March 2, 2017 Presentation Slides