Every so often ideas will come while the ironing is getting done. This is one of them which deals with the New Evangelisation. Perhaps if it has merit someone will take it up and run with it. However it will take many paragraphs to explain, so if it takes a long time to get to the point, please be patient …
As regular readers would know our study group www.ofgraceandfaith.blogspot.com is going through part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church each week, and are currently towards the end of the part on the Sacraments. At night we are also reading out a bit of the Catechism, and have recently started the part which will lead to the teaching on the 10 Commandments. Recently we read the portion on what Christian freedom really is. So many people have a false idea about what freedom truly is, and it is one of those topics that lends itself well to creative expression.
At this point a few nebulous thoughts started to come together. The time is approaching when our youngster will need more faith interaction with his peers, and the local youth group from reports is in decline. Whether the current crop are good role models is up for discussion, because the last time I was at the 6pm Sunday Mass some of the girls showed how lacking they were in their understanding of what goes on in the Eucharist – else there would not have been chatting and texting going on. So having lived through some poor excuses for youth groups in my day – what would be worthwhile? Obviously the need to engage with the Catechism, and to actually learn what the Church teaches was uppermost in mind, together with prayer.
If you have had a look at the study group blog site, you will have seen some of the artwork produced from prayerful reading of the Catechism. It has certainly made the rest of us stop and truly think about aspects of the Catechism’s teachings that we often pass over too lightly. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get a whole bunch of creatively talented people together engaging with the same portion of the Catechism and presenting the insights they have gained through their own chosen creative medium to the others! What a lot we would learn from each other, and what a lot of fun it would be!
Every so often the average parish puts out a questionnaire asking its members to tick the boxes on what kinds of gifts, talents and experience they have to contribute. People fill them out and those questionnaires often languish in a file somewhere because there isn’t sufficient imagination around to work out how those gifts, talents and experience could be best used in the service of the Gospel. What a waste! Unless you are interested in those hard-to-fill liturgical ministries or willing to give being a catechist or catechist-helper in the state schools your questionnaire probably never gets followed up.
The understanding which has come from experiencing the work of our study group artist, is that the creative talents have been given by God to people primarily for the spread of the Gospel, and that those creative talents are essential for getting the Good News of the teachings of the Apostles out to our modern world in a way that appeals to the un-churched of our day.
So what’s the vision?
To get the range of creative talent required is probably beyond a single parish, but not beyond a deanery (sub-group of a handful of parishes in a diocese). It would lend itself easily to being a monthly event from Feb – Nov which visits a different parish in the deanery each month. At each location a hall, or preferably a hall with a stage, and several meeting rooms would need to be made available. An easiIy updated website, one which multiple users can upload material to, and which can upload the full range of media types (audio, video, podcast, text, visual, animation etc) would need to be set up. To this website each monthly meeting day a new page of input would be added, containing not only the chosen Catechism text, but also all the footnoted texts (excerpts from Biblical texts, Church Council documents, Papal documents, Saint’s writings etc). These days sufficient people are carrying smart phones with internet access, which means that the creatives who come will have all the textual inspiration at their fingertips.
Not only the creatives are needed, but also all those with intercessory gifts – or who are at least willing to pray and intercede – and those with gifts of hospitality.
All would gather together to begin with – probably on a Sunday afternoon for 2.5 hours. In the first half hour, everyone prays together, the portion of the Catechism is read out, and the groups are organised. Then for the next hour the intercessors pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire the creatives as they work; those with hospitality keep the cappuccinos, biscuits and encouragement flowing; and the creatives join their own groups. Musicians go in one direction. Actors and script writers go in another direction to work on skits etc. Artists bring their own gear and set up in a well ventilated area away from the wind. Dancers find a spot to work in. All of the poets, bloggers, comedians and other text writers are allocated a place with good wi-fi to work in. Sound technicians and those with stage lighting skills wander from group to group getting a handle on what the production needs are. Computer geeks are on hand to scan artwork and input links from creative’s websites to the official websites. Photographers take photographs of artwork and performances to upload to the official website. Video-graphers capture the musicians and drama workers results for upload to YouTube and back-link to the official website. When the creative hour is over, everyone gathers for the presentations, which become in effect a holy talent show. Priests would need to be available to give the yeah or nay as to whether the creative caught the essence of the Church’s teaching or not – only the yeahs get uploaded – and what we most need, for the priests to give everyone God’s blessing at the end.
And the blessings? Our creatives get to experience what being inspired by the Holy Spirit is like, with all those people praying for them. They get to work with others who have been given similar giftings, which is so important for both the younger creatives and for the older ones to act as mentors. They get to showcase their work. (If you’ve seen a photographer in action and the results, you are far more likely to hire him or her for your daughter’s wedding) They get to use their God-given talents to promote the Gospel to those gathered on the day and to all who will access the website. Everyone gets to know each other better and to work together for a common godly cause, and to appreciate each others talents. Of the variety of creative mediums on the day, if one doesn’t touch your heart with God’s grace-filled message, another will. Over a period of a year or so, an excellent bank of catechetical material will grow and become a major resource for the New Evangelisation – let alone how many people will be inspired to live out the Faith they profess more fully.
Each creative group would need a leader / co-ordinator, and there would have to be a planning meeting prior to each one. Ditto for the intercessors and hospitality groups.
I’d like to think that it if these ideas ever became reality that such an afternoon would quickly become the most anticipated deanery event of the month.
Into your hands and heart, Our Lady Help of Christians, and Mother of the New Evangelisation, these ideas and this vision is entrusted; knowing that all things are possible when you intercede for us before the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.