Taking a Fresh Look at Faith Development in the Contemporary School Ned Prendergast
Defining Faith! ‘Faith is like the bird that feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark’ Tagore
Elements of Faith • A grammar of assent (Newman) • Journey inwards • Wakefulness • Call to holiness • Personal relationship • Discipleship • Faithfulness, sticking with, persistence
But… • Definition…intellectual cul de sac ! • ‘Belief… too big a word’ ! • A larger picture puts faith in the context of what I give witness to with my life, my faithfulness to what is deepest in me. • ‘Don’t ask me word questions but look at how I live!’ • ‘Come and see’ John 1:46
Evangelisation Evangelisation, as understood in Catholicism, is not only proclamation or conveying a ‘spiritual’ message, but includes within its self-definition a reference to human flourishing and the goal of social transformation.
The transmission of faith in a coherent narrative form • The Content of Faith: cognitive, conceptual, imaginative • The Experience of Faith: The life of the community lived in liturgy and prayer : Belonging, membership, responsibility. • Acts of Faith: deeds of compassion, generosity and sacrifice that nourish faith, incarnate it, build up the community and are a service to others. • The Christian community lives in mission and every member participates in it. Formation is concerned to help each one find and understand their vocation and the mission that flows from it, access the resources to develop and sustain it, and shape it to the mission of the Church. On the Way to Life: James Hanvey SJ The Heythrop Institute (for the Catholic Education Service England and Wales
Making God known, loved and served Notre Dame Task Force on Catholic Education.
God’s basic building block for self-communication is not the ‘saved’ individual, or the rightly informed believer, or even personal careers in ministry, but precisely the journey and bonding process that God initiates in marriages, families, tribes, nations, peoples and churches who are seeking to involve themselves in his love… Until and unless Christ is someone happening between people, the Gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until he is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness, through bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on at all. Richard Rohr Near Occasions of Grace
Our Faith Journey: John Westerhoff Westerhoff uses the analogy of the rings of a tree to describe how faith grows gradually and requires a suitable environment in which to develop. He identifies four stages or styles of faith: experienced faith, belonging faith, searching faith, owned faith.
Experienced Faith Our first experience of faith is gained from our parents and other significant adults. We take on our parent’s attitudes, values and ways of viewing the world, life and God. Experiences of trust, love, acceptance and security are the essence of experienced faith. The words we hear spoken are not as important as the experience connected with these words.
Belonging Faith All of us need to feel that we belong – a sense that we are wanted, needed, accepted. We take on the beliefs and customs of those around us in order to belong. We identify with the stories of the groups to which we belong, in this case the Christian story. There is a natural sense of wonder and awe in the face of life’s daily miracles.
Searching Faith To doubt and to question an acquired understanding of faith is important in acquiring our own identity. We need to explore alternative understandings, lifestyles and commitments. Searching may be prompted by an event or crisis in our lives that challenges our faith.
Owned Faith There is a personal commitment to a chosen faith. There is a struggle to connect faith with everyday life. The help and support of others is needed and valued to help sustain our faith. The doubts and questions of searching faith remain but we can be comfortable with them.
The life journey to Faith Experience, Belong, Search, Own. According to Westerhoff we do not outgrow one stage or style of faith and its needs but our faith expands when new elements are added to it.
Notice at St. Roch Cathedral, Montpellier This Cathedral is not a museum. You have entered a sanctuary where God lives. The generations before you have loved this place and have prayed here for centuries… If you believe, pray here If you are searching, reflect If you doubt, ask for light If you suffer, ask for help If you are full of joy, give thanks here.
Westerhoff’s essentail elements on the journey to owned faith: • Experience of love and trust • A sense of belonging to a community • Opportunities to nurture our sense of mystery and wonder • Opportunities to explore and question beliefs or religion, in order to make them our own.
Catholic Imagination • A story we enter • A community we belong to • A language we speak • A way we pray • A work we do • A face of God we see and show
Three movements and Ten Steps to Faith: Michael Paul Gallagher 1 Getting Free: • The First Escape: from a false self, imprisoned in negative attitudes, to a true self, generous and alive; this means patience with the shadows, until able to be still and in touch with deeper feelings. • The Second Escape: from the pressures of a superficial context to the courage to live differently; more simply, more contemplatively, and finding some alternative community for support. • The Third Escape: from thinking about God in ‘out there’ language to the wonder that can reverence Mystery and ask genuine questions about religious truth. • The Fourth Escape: from the unworthy and immature gods of childhood images to the human face of God revealed in Christ.
2 Finding Focus Michael PaulGallagher • The first quest: the heart that follows its hungers, staying with its restlessness, waiting until the time is ripe to say ‘yes’. • The second quest: the mind that seeks for meaning, wrestling with the many ‘why?’ s of existence. • The third quest: the conscience, awake to self-deception and to the scandals of our divided world, yet struggling to discover what is right and best. • The fourth quest: the inner spirit that does not run from silence, that experiences something of its own depths, and learns there to listen to God’s word.
3 Love: Where faith is born Michael Paul Gallagher • The First Love Story: finding that God draws near, in Jesus Christ, encountering him personally, being surprised by his understanding and the power of his compassion. • The Second Love Story: humbled into honesty by the unsteadiness of one’s loving, shocked by the challenges of the Gospel, one becomes more ready to let go of self and of one’s resistances to faith.
Luke 13:6-9 Jesus spoke this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came out looking for fruit on it but did not find any. He said to the vinedresser, ‘Look here! For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree and found none. Cut it down. Why should it clutter up the ground? In answer the man said, ‘Sir, leave it another year, while I hoe around it and manure it; then perhaps it will bear fruit. If not, it shall be cut down’.
To hoe and to manure! How do you hoe? How manure? Humus ….humility!
John Paul II The time has come to commit all the Church’s energies to a new evangelisation… fresh in ardour, methods and expression
Philip Pinto The only thing that you can give is your own experience of God, The rest is idolatry!
Spirituality The new portal…
The Ceist Charter Our hoe…
Ceist Values Our humus…