I honestly don’t mean this to be critical. I love my family, and I grew up in a community full of really warm, loving people. However, I’m coming to realize that I was very, very poorly catechized. I made my first communion and was confirmed, and I attended Mass nearly every week until I was 17 or so, but I honestly cannot say I could have told you the first thing about the Catholic faith. Like, I don’t even know that I could have told you that Catholics believed that Jesus died for our sins; I thought that was something only “born-agains” believed. I probably could have told you that God loved everybody (which is a true and good thing to know if you do only know one thing!) and I had memorized some prayers but beyond that I didn’t know a thing.
I am looking into the church again now, and I’m just surprised again and again how there is a really good, solid answer to every question I have. I’m not sure how I didn’t know this. And while I’m really excited by a lot of what I’m finding, I’m kind of troubled by the enormous gap between what I’m learning the church actually teaches and what I learned (or, I guess, didn’t learn) in my own Catholic religious ed.
This is one of the reasons I’m looking into the church again, because we currently attended a conservative Presbyterian church, and while Calvinism is a very consistent theological system for the most part, it’s also–I’m not sure how to put this–a closed system. Like, it cannot integrate things like what if the earth is billions of years old or what if human life did indeed arise through evolution, at least not very successfully. But Catholicism can, and especially for my kids, who are really smart, inquisitive people who don’t settle for easy answers, I want to make sure they have a faith that will not ever bump up against other real truths then encounter. I am very impressed so far with how, while Catholicism certainly often doesn’t take the stance most popular in the modern world, it seems to never take a position that is actually contrary to science or reason.
But I’m also wondering how I didn’t know any of this. And, if we did return to the Catholic church, would our kids be well catechized? Would they have a solid grounding in their faith, the way they are getting a very solid grounding in their faith in our current church community (where they are doing things like memorizing catechisms and learning church history and memorizing Bible verses and things like that)?
Of course I realize that most of a child’s spiritual formation is the responsibility of the parents, and one of the reasons my own formation was poor is that–as wonderful and loving as my parents were and still are–the adults in my life really left my spiritual formation to the church. I honestly can’t say that I can ever remember, the whole time I was growing up, hearing anybody talk about God outside of church or CCD. As a parent I’m very committed to giving my children a firm grounding in their faith and making it an everyday part of their life.
I really feel, though, like I have a lot of support in doing that at our current church. Other parents are committed to the same, the church leadership really gives us a lot of support and resources, and it doesn’t feel so much like trying to swim upstream. I’m wondering how hard it is to find similar support in a Catholic church.