In his Word on Fire homily for Pentecost, Bishop Robert Barron gives some good examples of why ongoing formation is a necessity. After all who would want to have an life saving operation performed by a consultant who has not had any further training other than when initially qualified!
Our faith is like that. As set out in the General Directory for Catechesis there is a lifelong duty of receiving ongoing formation*. For the new catholic neophyte it is started with the period of Mystagogy:-
- Postbaptismal formation – generally ends around Pentecost: RCIA 239
- Extended period of formation until the anniversary of their baptism: RCIA 240
I am not artistic, but I love art, and the art of our churches, historic houses and museums and just anywhere that has a work of religious art is enough to set the mind wondering. What did the artist intend, how do we see it? Rather like the scriptures: how do we interpret them today in our 21st century world?
In the readings for Trinity Sunday, we start with the Old Testament Wisdom speech of Proverbs 8:22-31, which is nearing the end of a long prologue with its instructions for pursuing Wisdom and understanding. In the concluding verse we hear that Wisdom is with God but also ‘ at play everywhere in his world.’
Romans 5:1-5 tells us that everything we achieve: perseverance over sufferings, hope, state of grace, does so by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit that Jesus told his disciples, would come to lead them to ‘the complete truth’ as we hear in the Gospel of John 16:12-15.
- Invite the RCIA team and all involved with the formation of catechumens to explore religious art.
- Visit a church, museum as a group
Invite a guest speaker to do an in depth presentation of a work of art
You can do all the above with your new catholics, and also:-
- Invite them to bring for discussion a piece of art that is of particular interest to them.
- If you have a big group, then perhaps let a couple bring their art form at a time, so there is plenty of time to allow them to tell their story.I still recall my earlier studies and being asked to look in newspapers and magazines to see how many examples of ‘heavenly’ advertising there was, and being surprised at just how much there was in the advertising world: all designed to persuade us to buy some consumer item.
Mystagogy may have an extended period but it can form a valuable basis for proceeding on the journey of lifelong learning
- the General Directory for Catechesis ‘GDC’ – see GDC. 50 , 56 & 70 re ongoing formation and continuing conversion