Friday, March 30, 2012

On Christian Formation

I was recently asked by a lay person who occupies a position of leadership in the diocese to share whatever I might on "Christian formation" as she ponders how her own ministry is configured toward that end. Here's what I wrote:

Here, off the top of my head, are some "marks" of what Christian formation should aim at/produce:

  • A secure awareness of a relationship with God in Christ, in the company of the Church.
  • An ability to verbalize that relationship with confidence and clarity.
  • A basic familiarity with the long arc of the narrative of scripture--the series of covenants in the Old Testament (Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the Exiled Jews), the life of Jesus, the story of the early church in Acts.
  • A habit of corporate worship on Sundays and daily private prayer, along with related spiritual disciplines.
  • An awareness of vocation--a habit of asking the question, "What is God calling me to do?"
  • An awareness of one's spiritual gifts, and a passion for exercising them.
There could be more, but this seems enough of a challenge!


Jon said...

If we're talking about long term formation growth in virtuous living should probably be included, and it might be worth including at the introductory level of formation.

Daniel Martins said...

Jon, you are, of course, spot on. How could I have neglected that?!

Jon said...

Well, there are plenty of folks who assume that being virtuous means following a lot of old rules, and memorizing and following such rule lists really isn't properly part of Christian formation. It's not even particularly virtuous as long as it fails to rise to the level of learning to live with and control one's passions and desires.

Sharon Pearson said...

Thank you for sharing this, Bishop Martins. Oh how I wish the bishops of our church would lift this ministry up and its importance to the future of our church for all ages!

Sharon Ely Pearson
Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education

Sr. Sarah, OSF said...

So glad to see this topic on your mind. I think we make it harder than it is; when we offer opportunities to practice what our students have just learned in a climate of faith, the classic four pillars of catechesis: faith, morals, sacraments and prayer produce these fruits.

Padre Gustavo said...

Prezado Dom Daniel :

Thank you for your posting such a good summary. I do understand the value of keeping the menu simple and to the point. I wonder, though, if there should be some "practical/hands on" (diakonía) element thrown in. I'm afraid that if we are left to our own, we tend to relegate faith to a matter of head and heart, but not hands.

Grace and Peace!