Sunday 9 February 2014
Education and Evangelization
The Catholic understanding of evangelization places a priority on personal conversion and “interior transformation” – in that sense it is radically distinct from proselytism, which aims at exterior measures and effects (bottoms on seats, faces in pews, money in the collection). This is something we need to get right, as Pope Francis keeps insisting. If we do, there is just a chance that fewer of our children will lapse as they grow older, and more will find themselves able to speak of their faith with confidence to the world around them.
Evangelization does not stop with religious instruction or liturgy but even affects what is taught and the way it is taught. The Incarnation is not some piece of historical information that, once communicated, can be forgotten while we turn our minds to geography or biology or mathematics. If true, faith changes everything, even the way we view the cosmos. Once that primary lesson is learned, there are no “boring” subjects any longer. Nothing can be ugly or pointless unless we make it so. (Chesterton once said, “Is ditchwater dull? Naturalists with microscopes have told me that it teems with quiet fun.”) Faith alters the way every subject is taught as well as the relationships between them. It connects them severally and together to our destiny, to the desire of our hearts for union with infinite truth (what used to be called the saving of our souls).
(This post is based on a longer article from Columbia magazine, now available.)