By Heart

America, the Catholic magazineIn the most recent edition of America magazine, David Impastato writes about “educational emergency” in our Church’s efforts in catechesis and evangelization.  His article, Faith by Heart, is a strong argument for ensuring that our methodologies incorporate memorization of “the principal formulations of the faith; basic prayers; key biblical themes, personalities and expressions; and factual information regarding worship and Christian life.”  (NDC)

In calling for the use of memory, Impastato suggests that the Church ”directly and concretely seek(s) to overcome the scandal of religious illiteracy. He calls for  “The bishop in each diocese, consulting with his priests and educators, drafts a few lists of questions and answers to be learned by heart, based on items for memorization specified in the directory.”

For those who have not cracked open their National Directory for Catechesis (Chapter4, section 29) in a while, we are reminded that “In the transmission of faith, the Church does not rely on any single method… (choosing) diverse methods that are in accord with the Gospels” Therefore, leaning by heart is included among learning through human experience, learning by discipleship, learning within the Christian community, learning within the Christian family, learning through the witness of the catechist, learning by living the Christian lifestyle as a committed disciple, and learning by apprenticeship.

I do appreciate a call for a renewed sense of learning by heart (I do, I really do –  We have to attach the language of faith to the lives of the learner). We should all affirm Impastato’s call that it be “harmoniously inserted” into a holistic faith-formation process.

It is distressing, however, that, while Impastato does acknowledge life-long faith formation, he nonetheless calls for the accountability of written or oral testing to occur throughout including at the time of “students ‘graduating’ from parish religious education programs, usually after confirmation.”  Graduating, geesh! If young people can test out of faith without having integrated their own human experience as disciples within the Christian community and family, apprenticed through the witness of others, I’m not sure we have responded fully to the “educational emergency.”

Please do check out Faith by Heart.

D. Scott Miller

D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.


D. Scott Miller


D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.



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