Tonight on my way home from work, I treated myself to an old time radio show. I listened to Lucille Ball's "My Favorite Husband" and the episode was called "Liz learns to swim." The basic premise was that Liz wanted to go to the beach for Summer vaca, while her husband wanted to go the the Weeping Willow Dude Ranch. (She explained that after one meal at the "chuck wagon", she knew why the willows were weeping_ good line!)
Her husband said he'd be willing to go to the beach if Liz would learn to swim. (We'll ignore the sexism that riddles these old radio shows and instead talk about the cool insight I got from the show. Hang on, here it comes!) Liz called her next door neighbor, who comes to her house, explains the physics of water displacement, has her try the swim strokes on the floor of their living room, and tells her proudly that she can swim.
It all made me think about the conversations we've been having at school about the primary goal of faith formation/catechesis/religious education. I read tonight that the goal of catechesis should be "spiritual maturity." However, for years our education programming has not been developed to reflect a goal anywhere near that. Today my professor described it as "pouring from a jug into a mug."
I'm thankful to be working at a parish which takes this idea seriously. I'm thinking particularly of education toward Confirmation. Work has been done in the past several years (by the brilliant youth minister) to broaden the scope of "sacramental prep" from just preparing for the sacramental moment of Confirmation day, to a lived way of life in faith that much more accurately describes the life that a Confirmed Catholic should be living. It makes a difference in the faith and development of young people and it makes a difference in the parish as a whole. It's a good difference.
The saying goes "sitting in Mass doesn't make you a Christian, any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car." You can't learn to swim by studying physics on a living room floor- it may help, but it is not the same as actually getting in the water and giving it a go.