There are many similarities and differences between the Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations. In this video, Fr. Mike Schmitz narrows the differences down to one thing that really sets Catholicism apart from other Christian Churches: authoritative teaching.
Bishop Dowd of Montreal wrote the following while participating in the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment in Rome in October 2018:
The 4 basic questions I believe constitute the corners and edges that anchor the puzzle. These questions are:
Who is God?
If God is good, why is there evil in he world?
If God is good but there is evil in the world, what has God done about it?
If God is good but there is evil in the world and God is doing something about it, how can we be part of it?
It is my conviction that these questions haunt the heart of every person, religious or not, and that the Christian faith can give a complete answer to those questions. God is love, the tragedy of sin, the drama and beauty of salvation history, and the call to vocation.
What would a new apologetics look like? First, it would arise from the questions that young people spontaneously ask. It would not be imposed from above but would rather emerge organically from below, a response to the yearning of the mind and the heart. Here it would take a cue from the method of St. Thomas Aquinas. The austere texts of the great theological master in point of fact emerged from the lively give-and-take of the quaestiones disputatae that stood at the heart of the educational process in the medieval university. Thomas was deeply interested in what young people were really asking. So should we.
identify areas in their life where they are called to forgive
name and appreciate the fruits of forgiveness
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5.7).
To forgive another human being is to respect that person’s dignity, not to condone the evil action, and to let go of our desire for revenge.
We are called to forgive people always and in everything. Our respect for the dignity of others and our desire for the good of others must be uncondItional.
God’s grace enables us to forgive.
Jesus is our model of forgiveness.
In forgiving others we are restored to wholeness.
We need to receive forgiveness.
We need to forgive ourselves.
Forgiveness is a decision, not an emotion.
Theme 2: Can all broken relationships be healed?
understand the conditions for reconciliation
give examples of how reconciliation restores people to the community and heals relationships
distinguish between reconciliation and forgiveness
explain how the Church enables and facilitates reconciliation
Note: Reconciliation means there will be a positive future relationship. Forgiveness means letting go of the desire for vengeance; it does not necessarily guarantee a future relationship.
Forgiveness precedes reconciliation.
Reconciliation heals relationships and restores people to the community.
Reconciliation is conditional.
Conversion is essential to reconciliation.
The conditions for reconciliation are conversion, confession, contrition, correction (also called satisfaction).
Conversion is a radical reorientation of life. A person who has experienced conversion will stop sinning, will show abhorrence toward the evil acts, and will demonstrate a desire and resolution to change his or her life.
Christians are called to be open to reconciliation.
The church community enables and facilitates reconciliation.
Reconciliation may not mean restoring the relationship to “the way it was.”
value the sacredness of the human body, regardless of appearance
identify ways that we can co-operate with God in car- ing for our bodies
express ways in which the Incarnation shows the sacredness of the human body
respect physical change as integral to God’s creation of us
understand the ways we use our bodies in prayer
The Incarnation shows us the sacredness of the human body.
Jesus affirms the dignity of every person.
We are made in the image and likeness of God.
The fifth commandment underlines the sacredness of human life.
We are called to co-operate with God in the care of our bodies.
God’s creation of us does not end: we constantly change physically; we are called to respect that change in ourselves and others.
Theme 2: How do I know what I know?
identify their own preferred ways of learning
name a variety of ways of learning and of growing intellectually
respect the unique intellect of each person
consider how intellect shapes faith
realize God’s desire to be known through Jesus Christ
Each person has a unique way of learning.
The fifth commandment underlines the value of all people, regardless of their abilities.
God desires all to come to know the truth – especially religious truth, which enables us to know and love God.
Searching, questioning and doubt may be avenues to intellectual growth.
We change intellectually throughout life; this is part of God’s plan.
Theme 3: Is it okay to feel this way?
identify emotions and their functions in their lives
demonstratehowfaith guides how we act in response to our emotions
respect the right of all people to experience their own feelings
understand that there are morally acceptable and morally unacceptable ways to express any emotion
“Blessedarethosewho mourn, for they will be com- forted” (Matthew 5.4).
God created us to experience a wide range of emotions.
Everyhumanlife,fromthe moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God (CCC #2319). The way we express our emotions must respect the sacredness of all human life.
ThroughouremotionsGod calls us to decision and action.
Ouremotionsareagiftthat helps us to relate to others and to God.
Emotions are not “good” or “bad” in themselves. “Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case…. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.” (CCC #1768)
Our faith guides our expression of emotions so that we, and those with whom we relate, become more loving.
Theme 4: How do I get along with others?
explain how they are social beings responsible for the care of one another in accordance with God’s plan
summarize stories where Jesus models how to live in and challenge society
interpret the model of table fellowship, as used by Jesus Christ, for their own lives
explain how the Christian concept of society is inclusive
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9).
God created us as social beings, called to love and serve one another.
Jesusmodelshowtolivein and challenge society.
The Christian concept of society is inclusive.
Faith shapes our criteria for healthy relationships.
Through table fellowship, Jesus changed the stan- dard for how people relate socially.
Sometimes a good villain makes a good point. Recall the Grinch’s hatred for all the noise on Christmas morning.
For many of us, it is in the build up to Christmas that we get annoyed by the noise, the pushy people in the mall, lineups at every store, commercials, endless TV reruns. How do you cope with “all the noise” in the buildup to Christmas?
It is a disgraceful and a dangerous thing for an unbeliever to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of scripture, talking nonsense on these topics. Many non-Christians are well-versed in Natural knowledge, so they can detect vast ignorance in such a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The danger is obvious– the failure to conform interpretation to demonstrated [“Natural,” or scientific] knowledge opens the interpreter, and by extension, Christianity as a whole, to ridicule for being unlearned.
– St. Augustine
Not an option, justice is a mandate of Catholic faith. From the beginning, the educational mission of the church has been seem as participation in God’s saving mission. The divine edict of justice requires education for personal and social transformation.
The Catholic school, since it is motivated by the gospel message of Jesus Christ to proclaim liberty to the oppressed, is particularly sensitive to the call from every part of the world for a more just society, and it tries to make its own contribution towards it. It does not stop at the courageous teaching of the demands into practice, first in its own community in the daily life of the school, and then in the wider community.
Catholic schools aim towards a synthesis of faith and culture, of faith and life, syntheses that characterize mature faith. A mature faith will be able to recognize and reject cultural counter-values which threaten human dignity and are therefore contrary to the gospel.
Although all the problems of religion and faith will not be completely solved by academic studies, nevertheless, the Catholic school should be a privileged place for finding adequate ways to deal with these problems.
Strategies to incorporate the Justice Dimension of Catholic schools:
Catholicism is not simply a system of beliefs; it is also a life to be lived: a life of worship, shaped by the Eucharist and the other sacraments, and a life of moral commitment and behaviour, shaped by moral values rooted in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools foster this way of life grounded in the love of God and values of the Reign of God proclaimed in the gospels.
Spirituality in Catholic schools consists in letting God be present in each moment of the day, becoming attuned to God”s presence in the ups and downs of the life journey of the school community. Prayer and a commitment to the moral and ethical values of the gospel provide the opening to God’s presence. The Catholic school, therefore, is a place of prayer, a place where the principals of Christian morality find expression in the interactions that take place there.
Catholic schools invite all members of the learning community into that place of prayer and moral living by modelling a prayer life in the school and by providing a learning environment characterized by relationships that are caring and nurturing.
Strategies for nurturing Spirituality in Catholic Schools:
Make resources for spirituality available to all members of the community
Provide opportunities for retreat and reflection days
Participate in faith development activities
Structure prayer into the life of the school on a daily basis
Celebrate Catholic identity through prayer, liturgy, and worship
Celebrate school events, the various passages and seasons of the year with religious rituals
Celebrate school patron saints, school feasts
How do Catholic schools integrate spirituality into the learning environment?
The fundamental source of human knowledge is encounter with the world and its history through experience. The guiding intent for the curriculum is to educate people to become fully alive and free human beings. In a Catholic context this source and this guiding intent both point to the experience of the community, an experience where Jesus Christ is encountered and the values of the Reign of God direct human action and being. Simply put, we learn through life.
Catholic education brings a focus to learning to discover, evaluate, interpret the human experience, which is always in transition, in ways that enhance and deepen appreciation for the gift of creation and provide insight into how learning can lead to fullness and freedom for all people.
Strategies to develop a respect for the life-giving dimensions of tradition:
Provide access to the tradition of human culture–works of art, literature, etc.–as a way of engaging learners in conversation with the past
Invite learners to bring the symbols and artifacts of tradition into their own lives with a questioning and interpreting attitude
Invite learners to come to know for themselves the wisdom, knowledge, or beauty, of the tradition
Allow for the occasion for moral discourse and provide access to models of responding to the moral questions raised by the study of the past
Invite learners into a critical assessment of experience so they may discern what is life-giving and life-enhancing
Celebrate the hope that comes with recognizing God’s continuing action in the life of the community
How can tradition be life-giving in Catholic education?