Enter most CCD classes and what do you see. Heads bobbing, boredom, abstract ideas, memorizing the Ten Commandments, lists of Old Testament figures, and a tons of don’ts.
But what is our faith? A living relationship with Jesus Christ! Pope Benedict has insisted on this time and time again.
Jesus did not say “follow my teaching” like Buddha, Socrates, or other philosophers. He said “follow me!”
If someone is love with Jesus they will avoid sin, they will learn about the Old Testament, and they will be able to repeat the Ten Commandments. However, love drives them to that rather than another boring class that seems no different from History or English except that the teacher lacks professional training.
If a young man tells you he thinks a girl is pretty and would like to know her, what do you do? Tell him to talk to her. Or maybe set up a “chance” meeting. You don’t tell him to go and study her family tree, memorize the rules in her house and her favorite band and then go meet her. If he falls in love with her, he will remember those other things, but with half the effort. Because those things are about the one he loves, love smooths the path. I doubt there is a loving husband who can’t name his wife’s parents and siblings. I doubt many wives don’t know their husbands’ favorite food and music.
We cannot keep religious education as something external – like Geography or Math. The goal is that this particular boy experiences Christ and falls in love with him. Few fall in love studying about their beloved. More fall in love spending time with their beloved, speaking with them, or serving with them.
So that teens fall in love with Christ, wouldn’t it be better to begin with adoration, with the rosary, or with service projects. Once the flame of love is enkindled, then we talk Jesus’ relatives and everything else. Learning should then come quick.