Sunday, September 16, 2012

First Day of Faith Formation at St. Pius X 2012-13

We have finally reached the first day of Faith Formation at St Pius X Catholic Church in Towson.  Back when I was a kid we called in CCD.  When I first began teaching it was called school of religion.  It has also been known as religious education.  I generically use Sunday school in conversation.  It gets grouped with faith formation because tonight is also the start of classes in preparation for confirmation for this year's 9th graders at St Pius.

In preparation for the first class, I have done a lot of thinking and some writing since last Sunday about Franciscan and Augustinian prayer.  There are two other types that correspond to the other combinations of intuitive/sensing and thinking/feeling in the Myers-Briggs personality types. Although it is interesting to note that the intuitive is grouped with thinking/feeling while the sensing is grouped with judging/perceiving.  In any case, one of the other types is Ignatian.  In that style, I get the sense that the idea is to put myself in the ancient text rather than trying to relate the Biblical words to life today (as is the most common idea that I perceive in Augustinian) or praying just out of experience of reality, particularly nature (as is the most common idea that I perceive in Franciscan).  Putting myself in the ancient text would be like trying to imagine the experience.  I suppose I did that best when I wrote a play for the religious education program to do at Christmas a number of years ago called "Who Makes Time for God?"  It still have a bit of an Augustinian element because the problem faced by one of the shepherds was having too many things on his "to do" list so that he didn't make it to see the baby Jesus as the other shepherds did at his birth and that is a very modern problem.  But I'd imagine that even the shepherds then had to think about their duties and their flocks and make a decision to listen to the angel.  My writing involved trying to imagine what the experience was like.

So, as I jotted down my notes for this morning, I found myself thinking about the many different types of prayer and the reality of creation.  With a lesson on creation, obviously the simplest prayer style to think about is Franciscan.  What do we see, what are we thankful for, and why?  As we look at the two stories of creation in Gen 1:1-2:3 and Gen 2:4-24, we find that there is some room for both Augustinian and Ignatian.  On the Ignatian side, I could have the students try to imagine what it would have been like if we read Gen 1 literally and Adam and Eve were told by God to fill the earth and subdue it.  Then, in an Augustinian twist, I can ask the kids what does that mean today-what is not only our dominion over the plants and animals but our responsibility for them as well.  Referring to Gen 2:2-24, I could, in an Ignatian way ask them to imagine being the only human (as Adam is described) and then the joy at having someone else around for the first time-then join that with an Augustinian approach to asking about how important other people are in their lives today.  Unlike Simon and Garfunkel, we are not rocks or islands.

In addition, I can also introduce the basic most basic concept of prayer.  No, I am not going to introduce my 8 and 9 year olds to the four types, but there is a nice definition in the book we will use that talks about talking and listening to God and goes one step further about lifting our hearts to Go.   We can discuss rote prayer (the Our Father is always a good starting place) and prayers for intercession to saints, and since I have been looking at things about St. Sebastian for my own life, I could share some of that with the children.  

Plus drawing a name tag for each kid's desk so that I learn names quickly.  With only 13 (so far) it should not be too hard to learn their names.

A lot to pack into the 45 minutes to an hour I'll have with them on day 1.  That is okay as I try not to dwell on any one thing for more than about 10 minutes.  That leads to thinking about a minimum of 4 or 5 discrete activities even in 45 minutes.

This year will be an interesting challenge.  I am really looking forward to working with the kids and continuing my spiritual growth through that work.

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