Friday, July 22, 2011

Birthing of a Boholano Catechism Book

To prepare for the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee of the Diocese of Tagbilaran the priests, the religious, and the lay faithful have decided to publish a catechism that is peculiarly their own. Its purpose is not to deviate from the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church contained in the official “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, nor, to satisfy that fanciful pride to show off to the world that they have finally reached the age of maturity in faith, capable of producing a catechesis out of their own human resource, effort, and creativity. It is rather to meet the particular needs of our people, the BEC, our clusters, our parishes, our Diocese. The journey in faith together for the past seventy or so years, following faithfully the Sacred Scripture, traditional doctrine of the Church, and the Magisterium has formed within us a spirituality and culture that is uniquely Boholano. Because of its particularity the universal teaching of the Catholic Church cannot fully satisfy their cultural and spiritual needs. It is along this context that the publication of a Boholano Catechism is conceived.
To accomplish this, the writers tasked to draft the project have to contend with questions relevant to the work. What is the level of faith of our people? How profound is their knowledge of God; how deep is their love for Him and how broad and encompassing is their concern for others, the environment, and other God’s creation? Has this faith been translated into human values that guide the day-to-day interrelationships of the community of people, the neighborhood, the family? Has it thoroughly influenced the culture of the Boholanos? Confronted with challenges of modern paradigms of thought , of new ideologies, of the advances of science and technology, of the materialistic way of living, secular thinking, relativistic and cafeteria manner of following the norms of law and dictates of conscience, the post-modern view of human person whose concept of freedom is to be limitless, not to be constrained by external authority and objective laws, how strong is their faith to parry all these? Have they learn good lessons from them, incorporating them in their way of Christian living, instead of being carried away by these dangerous teachings? Are our people mature enough in their faith to be a beacon of light to the world of today, even to the point of questioning many of their assumptions and biases? Is there a new fresh new way of reaching this people, telling them with authority about Jesus and His answers to the deep longing of modern man? What method in catechism should we use today to reach our people sophisticated in the ways of the world, effectively proclaiming to them the Word of God, teaching them the content of the faith, leading them back to genuine Christian living, and, ultimately, bringing them back to God, to the true worship of Him, to prayer?
It is within this context that the writers came up with a Boholano catechism book – a modest volume, seemingly insignificant to demand a place in any library, or, be displayed in the National Bookstore. But we are sure that in no time it will become a priceless possession of our BECs and clusters, for it contains the content of our faith. However, it is so sequenced in accordance to traditional way of presenting our universal catechism that it may be mistaken as a mere reproduction of the same. But a keener study of the catechism book would yield the existence of an inner yet subtle logic that makes it unique in style and presentation. It starts with the study of the Trinity to show that our life is communitarian in origin and therefore communitarian in its nature, activity, and purpose. It ends with the presentation of the Kingdom of God to inculcate the lesson that we are not headed nowhere. As we come from God as a community so we return to him as the community of the redeemed. The style too is unique. It has adapted the process called ORID – a method that is behavioral and inductive. Its purpose is to engage actively the listener in the presented content of the faith.
However, the catechism book would remain lifeless when left on the table. It acquires life only when the trained formator-catechists pick it up, go to the BECS of the parishes, present to the faithful the catecheses contained in the book, facilitate the conduct of the seminar, and together with them actively listen and pay attention to the Lord who teaches. Through this the content of the message becomes alive because the catechists and the participants are engaged in a lively dialogue, preparing them to listen together to the God who speaks to them. Here, the people hear the words of the Scripture and catecheses no longer from the formator-catechists alone. They hear the words from each other. And, hopefully through this dynamic process they would finally recognize their true identity; that they realize that they are not just a group of people that is amorphous, individuals of different directions and prejudices, clinging to each other due to some organizational set-up in the parish, but a community chosen by God as uniquely His own, a community bound together by that divine love that calls them together in the act of evangelizing and catechesis.
Only then will this Boholano catechism book serves its purpose and justifies its existence.