The following email came from a San Diego pro-life leader on April 15:
I was listening to Catholic Radio yesterday, and Msgr. Reilly (Helpers of God’s Precious Infants) was talking about the need for a universal teaching of the catechism as part of the homily at Mass. He discussed this with me about two years ago when he was in San Diego.
Some followers of his just recently launched a website (or helped him launch a web site) to give information about this and offer a petition to sign to get us back on track with teaching our faith in church, since we have very few Catholic schools left anymore, (and from what I know, few Catholic families can afford them, and they aren’t teaching things about our faith anyway).
Please take the time to read through the website. It was just launched and the web site might be a little slow because it is getting so many hits. About 600 more people signed the petition between midnight, when I signed it, and this morning. I copied a few paragraphs from the home page and the “How” tab below:
With knowledge comes power. With knowledge of our Catholic Church’s teaching comes eternal guidance and wisdom. “We Want to be Taught!” is a grassroots initiative from the laity and religious to request that the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church publish, for the Universal Church, an Ordinary Sunday catechetical lectionary. The implementation of this initiative will make it easier and more enjoyable for priests and deacons to preach homilies, specifically to preach catechetical homilies. Moreover, it can’t help but have a dramatic impact on and better equip the Body of Christ against the Culture of Death.
It was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s request that all of the faithful read and study the Compendium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Pope’s request will become a reality by introducing during Mass the Ordinary Sunday catechetical lectionary hopefully starting with the Ordinary Sundays of Year A 2014. Therefore the laity will receive a systematic Catholic education directly from the official texts of the Church.
‘I never was taught that’
“Charity” and “forgiveness” are certainly much needed in this world but it seems that these topics are preached about over and over in modern day homilies. On the other hand, sensitive topics from our Church’s moral teachings such as “chastity”, “homosexuality”, “abortion”, and “contraception”, are merely mentioned sporadically or completely ignored from the pulpit. In the meantime, we are bombarded by images and “lifestyles” from the Culture of Death around every turn. Whether it is coming from the media, Hollywood, or the Internet, the solution is to confront the Culture of Death head on by catechizing the faithful in a systematic, universal way from the pulpit.
Fight the Culture of Death with the Culture of Life
With the state of moral decay in the world and the Culture of Death seemingly taking over the hearts and minds of so many, we feel it is imperative that Catholics know and understand their faith. It is obvious that most Catholics are not in church on Sunday. Why? Because they are not being fed. How will Catholics best be fed (in addition to the primary source, the Sacraments)? By teaching them their faith! This way when Catholics are confronted with a difficult issue, they will know Church teaching, know how best to respond, and know how to protect their families and remain in the state of grace.
Regular church attendees lack basic knowledge of the faith
When Vatican II introduced a new Liturgical three year Sunday cycle of scripture readings, the priests celebrating Mass were told to comment on the Scriptures, namely to give a homily not a sermon. It requires great wisdom and prudence when correcting one error not to fall into another. Today the vast majority of Catholics below fifty years of age, even those attending Mass regularly, are no longer knowledgeable about their faith. Admittedly they know they are ignorant of some basic teachings of the Church (i.e. morality, God, the Eucharist, our purpose on Earth, what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, etc.) that the Church has taught for centuries. As a result, they are being formed by the Culture of Death. Many women who go to an abortion mill to “get rid of their problem” identify themselves as Catholics. For them this ignorance is having a deadly effect. This is a major crisis that must be resolved as soon as possible. The same goes for people using artificial contraception. Not only is life unnaturally opposed and thwarted but its use creates a “contraceptive mentality”. This mentality separates the unitive from the procreative aspects of authentic conjugal love. This in turn takes the mystery and joy away from the couple.
Homily preparation is simplified
Preparing for a homily is not an easy task. Some priests spend hours working on their homilies. Others however wait till the very last minute and scramble something together, or perhaps read from a Scripture commentary, many go off on tangents not relevant to the Gospel reading or to Church teachings. Homilies can easily become abstract, disjointed and repetitive. This surely doesn’t contribute to attracting believers to come to Church, stay in Church, or come back to Church. It also hurts the laity’s ability to confront the Culture of Death in a way that protects them and their families from falling into error.
We want to learn more about our faith
Prior to Vatican II, priests preached a three-year cycle of Sermons based on the Creed, the Mass and the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments etc. Every year the Sunday Scripture readings were the same. It made little difference since the time was used to catechize the congregation and not to comment on the Scripture readings unless it was helpful. Those attending Mass each Sunday were knowledgeable about their faith. Nowadays, however, there is a major catechetical crisis among our people. The question is how and where to teach the Catechism? Ninety-five percent of the people in any given parish will be seen by the priest only at Mass on Sundays. Therefore “the where” to teach realistically has to be at Mass on Sunday. Children of God need to be taught how to live in this world which often is filled with darkness, lies, and deceit. Catechetical homilies are the solution.
To read more on the website, click here.
The absence of catechesis – beyond “God loves you” – is an utter disgrace. I myself graduated Jesuit high school knowing little of the faith and had to learn it on my own. I don’t know how clergy can devote their lives to a faith they refuse or are afraid to teach.
Maybe a lot of them simply think of themselves as religious social workers rather than as being “alter Christus”. Love without truth is a dangerous, useless thing.
Indeed, the homily is the place to present the Catechism in the course of preaching.
EWTN’s homilies do a stellar job of making routine references to the Catechism.
The sad thing is that catechetical homilies are discourage in most seminary preaching courses.
Father, with all do respect that has nothing to do with what is being said. We all including those in the Religious life need to know the faith period and if that means priests need to take things into there own hands than so be it. In Christ our King.
From the Pulpit, Priests have a duty to encourage the reading and study of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” by all literate adults over age 16.
“….the Catechism has raised throughout the world, even among non-Christians, and confirms its purpose of being presented as a full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine, enabling everyone to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life.” – Pope John Paul II (pg xiv)
I was once told by a priest that the function of a priest is like being an agent of his bishop. I perceive a grave fault in what has come about as the “obedience” requirement. How does mindless, robotic, slave like obedience measure up to any of God’s patriarchs, prophets, saints, doctors of the Church, or the dispute between SS Peter and Paul? Another facit of this strange obedience syndrome we keep seeing various perspectives of is the means by which this so called obedience thing is enforced. With a hierarchy rife with “filth”, why wouldn’t the obedience factor be the first thing to be reviewed by the Pope?
This is true and an excellent topic. I am grateful that they are talking about it and facing the truth. People are hungry for the truth….we need our church to lead even when it is difficult at times. At least do it for the ones who truly are seeking the truth…and are hungry.
Some of these issues need to be “age appropriate” due to the presence of children. Many faithful already complain of boring homilies during Mass, and that may increase if Theological teachings replace homiletics commenting on Scripture readings. Many in the pew will simply hit their “snooze” button and wait for the Creed to begin.
“Many in the pew will simply hit their “snooze” button and wait for the Creed to begin.”
So that explains it. How humble of you to admit that for many years you have been “snoozing” too. It is apparent that this important issue is still not spiritually age appropriate for you either but there is always hope. Not every priest is quite as dumbed down as you portray their capabilities to be or would like them to remain.
Wake up snoozer! With God all things are possible!
goodcause, apparently you have not seen tv in quite a while. Most secular tv programs promote sex outside of marriage – homosexual lifestyle, adultery lifestyle, fornication lifestyle, etc.
Children are being bombarded by sinful lifestyles that are being promoted as good and normal. Children learn from what they see and hear, and are not stupid.
We need some accurate (per the CCC) homilies on appropriate lifestyle, Heaven, and HELL.
Thank you Sandra….I’m glad that you too are not in denial of that fact. Our youth are being indoctrinated in all directions and good faithful parents are feeling the pressure and sometimes are powerless….parents aren’t empowered anymore….you can see it their attitudes, believe it or not even some of our own priests don’t even empower the parents anymore…instead the parent goes through a phase of trial….interrogation especially if their child has gone wrong….good parents understand this…..but goodcause does make sense because when a good priests talk, they do get the attention of our youth but when you get the ones who just talk about holding hands and the same old watered down homilies….well the kids just turn it off. I wish our youth groups would improve as well…they do little if not nothing to edify a child in the faith. Sometimes they give false impressions too.
Our kids tried several different youth groups….there was a good one that was more traditional but they were not very welcoming because they try to be more for the home school traditional side of the faith, which is fine too, there was a big fuss when one of my kids brought a guest that wasn’t Catholic, I recall the lecture I got from one of the priest as if we committed a sin…it was horrible and uncomfortable for me, I apologized and tried to explain that when I was in my youth group we were allowed to bring guests as part of the evangelization but this priest didn’t understand and asked me to at least let them know and not to bring them at certain gatherings.
This one priest made it clear that our child was almost getting to old for youth group and made it seem like she was unwelcomed and their gatherings were not much, they use to only meet only once a month on a Friday. It was then when I needed more of support to get my kids involved but it felt so unwelcoming, then we tried another parish that was less traditional….it was actually more active and did try to keep our kids busy, they did have good bible lessons, a young priest gave them, but the adult youth minister who was in charge well she said something to me that was disturbing. When I tried to let her know that it was important for me to get my children more involved in the church with their peers, she cut me off before I finished and said “oh before you say more, I am required by law to report any abuse that is told to me”….I was like huh? What are you talking about? I was trying to tell you how important it was for me to have my child around more Catholic youth, more positive influences and all you can come up is that comment? She said “oh sorry I am just required to let all parents and youth to know”…..wow…I sure didn’t feel that she empowered me at all as a parent nor did I sense that she cared as to why we wanted to involve our children in our church youth….so I pulled them out….so instead we stayed with Miles Christi….they have young men prayer gatherings and also for girls too…..I was almost tempted to get my kids attending a protestant youth group that I know from a good friend, they actually do teach the word of God better than most of our youth groups and actually teach accountability too. even Chastity talks they have but I don’t know anymore….it’s not Catholic.
But we need all the support and positive influences we can find to help us get our kids through these tough years…My heart goes out to our youth today…there are many temptations more now than ever.
My son was in CCD and they were teaching sexual morality. The teacher told me that she teaches what the Church teaches and about 1/3 of the class leaves when she does. When I asked my son. “What did you learn in Sunday School today?” he shared what he had been taught. The morality was right-sex is for married couples only, no premarital, no gay, no extramarital. But then he told me the reason that it was wrong (which I won’t share so as not to spread error.) I told my husband what he was taught. His response was “Who thought that up?” I looked in John Paul’s theology of the body and Christopher West’s version of it. It was not in it. So I googled it and I found it on an evangelical website and on Focus on the Family website. But the teacher did know that it wasn’t what the Church teaches.
As a yearly retreatant with Miles Cristi, I can easily say that I know you can’t go wrong with these young energetic priests from Argentina! Ijust recommended them to my nephew who wants to become a Deacon when he retires and his son who wants to become a priest.
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher
Christopher west does a lousy job at sharing that truth…I went to one of his talks and our kids left more confused as we did too…it was a big mistake going to his talks. Actually Focus on the family is a good group,,,,I do recommend them when it comes to family values.
Mr. Fisher you are right…..that is wonderful that you were able to experience their Ignatius Spiritual Exercises. I went once to their retreat. I can’t afford to go yearly but I felt blessed to have gone once. Next we hope to send my husband and my eldest son.
Our priest mixes in a little catechism-and I think it is a good thing. It is not that theological. Homilies are not a sure thing, though. It should be everywhere. I note the lack of knowledge of the catechism on websites where people care deeply about the Church and the Faith. Homilies are supposed to explain the readings and relate them to our lives. A study of the catechism could be worked in.
Also, there are 222 days left in the Year of Faith. Pope Emeritus Benedict asked us to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the history of the Catholic Church and the Vatican II documents. I got behind so I have calculated it as 3 pages per day of the Catechism, online vatican versions of the documents- 1 and 1/2 pages per day. The history book I am using requires 3 pages per day.
The Catechism relies on doctrines and its references are heavy laden with Bible verses. Why not go to the sources?
k, another way of reading is to read for content, instead of for a steady pace. In my university days, they recommended a book be read quickly, then again slowly and carefully so as to understand and remember its content, and then again to make sure you had the whole thing down. I knew a one time talk show radio host who would read every novel or non fiction book three times, and he knew what was in whatever book you mentioned to him.
That is very wise. Also, concerning the Bible verses: it would be good, as you read, to do that.
k, you’d get a better sense of context and understanding if you first read the Bible, the Doctors … after all, the Catechism is composed by bureaucrats. Why so many Catholics are bureaucrat groupies is really puzzling.
We only have 220 days to get our homework done.
k, you assume you have so many days, but Jesus comes in the blink of an eye. You do not know how many days or hours or years you have. That is why you and all of us should emerse ourselves now, not tomorrow.
When Pope Benedict was in the U.S. he stated that the truth will be taught and not some watered down version. He also said that if the numbers in the religious life and in our churches are down than so be it but the truth will be taught.
For those who want to accurately KNOW their Faith, and accurately pass on the Faith to others –
Read the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition”.
On the net go to (and pass on to others) – “What Catholics REALLY Believe SOURCE”.
Pope Benedict did say the Church would be getting smaller.
Yes, Pope Emeritus said, “smaller holier Church” … probably said it in various venues. I’ve seen the quote, and recall reading it about a year or so ago. He said it. You might also read his books, which are radical in the sense defined by his predecessor.
It’s true we want to be taught. If you ask the fallen away Catholics who left the faith…they would tell you the same. They left and it’s interesting how some claim to know Jesus better when they left…wow…talk about utter ignorance…so when they were receiving our Lord….didn’t anyone teach them the truth about the Eucharist? It just amazes me how could they have been so easily swayed to seek else where…when did they miss that important part of our faith…THE HOLY EUCHARIST! How much personal and close can we get :
“Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” John 6:53
They were probably not taught or maybe the faith was so watered down that they thought that they can receive communion else where….as my in laws seem to think in their Methodist church. The church is neglecting to help many others make a distinction between that and the communion of sects. As if our church is no different than those Christian sects. Why did the church stop teaching that? Well at least I’m speaking about the current parishes that are surrounding us. The pastors there water down the faith so much, they should be charged with something from the canon law. It would be charitable to help them see the error of their ways…..it benefits all and our salvation…it humbles us too.
How can we fault them when their Bishop is not holding them accountable. But there has to be a point of self accountability and honesty. Are they ignorant of what is truly happening in our parishes or are they just complacent and fine with it?
Priests and bishops should be publicly vetted regarding their childhood and the nature of the marriage between their parents. Maybe we’ve got a church full of priests who have come from screwed up homes. This would explain the large number of misfit characters among the clergy.
i would like this catechecal teachings to be made an open thing especially for young growing catholics and christians via homilies in the mass so that the faithfuls will stand stronger when they grow
Along with Msgr. Philip Reilly, founder, my wife Wenqi and myself, the two original initiators of We Want To Be Taught! I wanted to announce that we just relaunched We Want to Be Taught! https://www.wewanttobetaught.com/. We have added a section for priests and seminarians to sign up called We Want to Teach! Please continue to spread far and wide. Thank you.