Tag Archives: intergenerational catechesis

Passing On The Faith

Basilica of St. Ann, Jerusalem, 11th century

Devotion to St. Ann began in Jerusalem, probably at a 5th century basilica near the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus cured the paralyzed man waiting to get into its healing waters. Ruins of the basilica can be seen today in the ruins of the Bethesda pool. The present basilica of St. Ann, begun in the 12th century, stands nearby.

Would the early basilica be near the place where Joachim and Ann lived in the city, or was its site chosen for convenience? The ancient stories of the Protoevangelium associate Mary’s family with the temple and describe Joachim participating in the temple sacrifices. I wonder if we dismiss these stories too quickly as “myths.”

The Protoevangelium says that Mary was presented in the temple and dedicated to God as a child. At the least, this indicates that Mary would be well acquainted with the temple, its worship and the teachings of Judaism. If we accept this reconstruction, Mary would be far from a peasant girl from Nazareth. She would be better formed in Judaism and particularly in temple worship than we sometimes think.

Mary’s family was related to the family of John the Baptist, whose father Zachariah is a priest in the temple. (Luke 1,3-25) They live in the hill country near Jerusalem. Mary’s visit before Jesus’ birth to Elizabeth, Zachariah’s wife, connects her closely with them.

Later, as a young boy Jesus engages the teachers of the law on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Luke 2,41-52) He amazes them with his wisdom. Could some of that  wisdom have come from a mother’s teaching?

“And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and man,” (Luke 2,52)

Mary and Joseph, Ann and Joachim certainly contributed to his growth.

Today at the novena, I’m going to talk about how Mary and Ann may have taught Jesus about the temple and what to do there. Like them, we must pass on our faith to others, particularly to the next generation.

Basilica of St. Ann, Jerusalem

Intergenerational catechesis

Last night, after the 5 PM Mass, I took part in an intergenerational catechesis program at St. Mary’s, Colts Neck.  About two hundred came, full house, and I hear more wanted to get in but it was sold out.

About the spaghetti supper, which all enjoyed, the kids went with their teachers, and the adults came with me to the auditorium where I gave a presentation on the Parable of the Sower that Jesus used to teach people about God and the mysteries of life. The kids had the same parable presented to them by their teachers.

God is a passionate sower of seed, Jesus pointed out, and he used the beautiful land and sea of Galilee to illustrate God’s blessings. I used a short dvd on Gallilee watch?v=fW0YAszmLes&feature=youtu.be– still a beautiful land– to help see how Jesus might have taught this parable. Besides what it teaches about God, the parable also has lessons for life, for example, the patience of  God, the patience we need as life unfolds, the evil that can inhibit the seed’s growth, the lack of acceptance to the good seed.

Jesus’ own life among us was like a seed the grew and died and rose again.

The questions we asked the adults to discuss were:

  1. So, what blessings do you find in your life? Don’t forget, they may look small.
  2. Waiting for the seed to be sown and for it to grow demands a lot of patience.  Where do you see patience running out, around you and in yourself?

The  kids showed us an imaginative banner they created and their reflection on the parable.

A parish has five approaches for learning today: 1) the parish or intergenerational approach 2) the peer or age-specific approach 3) the home/family approach 4) the individual approach 5) the wider community approach. Parishes usually prefer an age-specific approach to faith formation. (School, religious ed for children, lectures, retreats for adults, etc…) Whatever approach you use you shouldn’t neglect the others.