We have a big collection of books downstairs and I’m going through them choosing those we might bring to Noah’s ark, wherever that might be. Like so many other religious communities we’re downsizing. Some books I’m putting aside, hoping to find a good home for them; some we’re selling on Amazon.com, some are on their way to the dumpster.
I’ve always like browsing through libraries. One of my best educational experiences as a young student was at Catholic University in Washington where a Redemptorist professor, Fr. Al Rush, took us through the stacks of the university library, pointing out books and authors we might read in the future.
There’s something adventurous about libraries and bookstores. They’re treasuries and junkyards all at once; you never know what treasure you’re going to stumble on. Yesterday, I stumbled on a book called Pride of Place: The Role of Bishops in the Development of Catechesis in the United States, by Sr. Mary Charles Bryce.
Catechesis is on my mind lately, and this book which studies the history of catechisms and catechesis in our country from Bishop John Carroll to the 1980’s was something I was looking for. I think catechesis is one of the prime needs for our church today, as Catholic schools decline and dioceses, religious orders and parishes and their resources diminish. “Pride of Place” Sister Bryce called her book, a title from an old pastoral letter of the American bishops on catechesis.
Not a bad priority for the church today. I think particularly about our preaching, our missions and retreats. How are we going to pass on the faith we have received? What are the words and ways we’re going to use?
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.” (T.S. Eliot)
And yet, we speak about the Eternal Word.
They say you can get everything you’re looking for today on the Internet and in some sense you can. So, we need to build good catechetical sites like Bread on the Waters (www. cptryon.org) and we need to keep a catechetical dimension in our various websites, or else they become simply notifications or requests for donations.
Yes, we need to work on the Internet. Yet, there’s still something to be said for a library, even one as transitional as ours downstairs. It represents an ordered collection of knowledge that was put together by people before me, who were “on the same page” as I’m on now. Someone recognized Sister Bryce’s book was a good book and put it in our library downstairs.