Friday, June 23, 2017

The Way of Catechesis (Ave Maria Press)

It's only been one year, but it feels like forever since I have been a catechist. If you are a Catholic in good standing and have never been a Catechist, you should consider volunteering one or assisting one at least one year in your life. It is both a thankless and rewarding job that has equal shares of joy and frustration. You'll get kids who want to be there and kids who don't, kids whose parents are super-involved and parents you never see. But no matter the type of children you teach, you want to help them learn about Jesus and the love He has for each of them. However, there is more to catechesis than just teaching children, there are also opportunities to instruct adults as well, not only in RCIA, but in other programs as well. As difficult as you think teaching children can be, adults present their own challenges and joys. Recently, Gerard Baumbach published a book entitled The Way of Catechesis, which walks us through the history of catechesis.

The book starts in the Old Testament and is used to provide us both historical context and examples of catechesis for the Jewish people, through God's prophets. We then move to the New Testament and are presented with Jesus, the ultimate teacher and catechist. The whole book could have been written on Him, His message, and how we do and should respond to it, but the author did a fine job reducing it to one chapter. We then work our way though the centuries, starting with the Early Church, stopping in on the Middle Ages, the Reformation, and present day. Each chapter has reflection questions at the end, which can be used for individual use or small group discussion. At the end of the book are helpful books to read, copious notes, and an index, which can all be helpful for further study.

On its surface, the book is a history lesson on where the Church has been with catechesis and how it has changed through the centuries. A closer read reveals that the book is actually a mixture of history and goals/plans for the future. The old saying about you can't know where you are going unless you know where you have been summarizes this book perfectly. In this book, Baumbach shows his love for Christ and His Church. He also demonstrates how he wants discipleship within the Church to be dynamic and fruitful. This is an essential read for both pastors and directors of religious education. Normally, after reading a good book I like to keep it in my collection to reference in the future, but this is one I plan to pass on and share.

This book was provided to me for free by Ave Maria Press in exchange for an honest review.