Monday, April 20, 2015

Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained

An interesting aspect of Catholicism is the fact the Catholic Church has the oldest, deepest, and most philosophically vibrant history of any Christian denomination. There are so many fascinating aspects of Catholic theology, tradition, and practices, that it would take a lifetime just to list them all, let alone learn and understand each one.

With so much rich history and weighty doctrines, you would think Catholics are the most religiously knowledgeable people around. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true. Average American Catholics—and I’m talking even about folks who go to Mass on a regular basis—do not understand core Church teachings very well, and they are usually quite ignorant about the Church’s rich history.

Well, in my parish, anyway, we’re trying to do something about this. We will be hosting a video series called “Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained.” The program was produced by the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. There are two primary sections. The first series of videos focus on knowing the faith. Basic doctrinal topics include: the nature of God, the Trinity, divine revelation, the Bible, the identity of Jesus, His death and Resurrection, the Church, Mary and the Saints, and this crucial question: What happens after we die?

The second part of the program focuses on living the faith. Topics include: the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; a walk through the Mass; Catholic morality; and Catholic social teachings.

The Symbolon program features dozens of nationally-known Catholic teachers. The state-of-the-art videos were filmed on location in Rome, the Holy Land, and Calcutta, as well as in the studios and classrooms of the Augustine Institute.

The program was created in the first place for one simple reason: Catholicism is an entire way of life, but nowadays most people have lost sight of this truth. Sure, many folks are familiar with various aspects of the Catholic faith, but if they asked themselves whether the faith makes much of a difference in their lives, the honest answer quite often would be, “No, not really.”

Our modern world has become very compartmentalized, and we’re rather adept at thinking about faith for an hour on Sunday morning, and then shifting back to a thoroughly secular frame of mind the rest of the week.

The goal of the Symbolon series is to help adults discover, or re-discover, the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith, and to live in the light of Christ’s joy and peace seven days a week.

The best part of the Symbolon program, in my humble opinion, is that it explores these rather deep and weighty concepts in a very easy-to-understand format. Even though the hosts and teachers in the videos are brilliant theologians with advanced doctorate degrees, they are wise enough to understand that the target audience—we average Sunday pew-sitters—are not exactly rocket scientists, nor have we been trained very well in basic Catholic concepts. So the format is laid-back and relaxed, nothing like an intense classroom. Each 90-minute session will consist of a couple of videos, a little prayer time, and an opportunity for some discussion (but only if you want to participate!). Also, there is no homework and no tests.

My parish is Immaculate Heart of Mary in Harwinton, CT, and our program begins on Monday, April 27th, at 6:30 p.m. We will meet on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month. The program is open to anyone—I mean anyone—who wants to learn more about the Catholic faith. And if you’re reading this online right now in, say, Florida or Ireland, then you’d better leave the house right now so you’re not late.

By the way, I’m privileged to be part of the team that will facilitate the meetings—but please don’t let that keep you from coming!

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