Saturday, May 4, 2013

Opening the Door of Faith - Help for Catechists and the New Evangelization @CatholicCompany

Opening the Door of Faith Study Guide
Opening the Door to Faith
A Study Guide for Catechists and the New Evangelization
  • Written by Jem Sullivan, Ph. D.
  • Foreword by His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl
  • Soft Bound, 112 pages, English Language
  • Published by Our Sunday Visitor - 10/22/2012
  • Written in a Workbook Style With Areas for Writing
  • Suggested Retail Price $19.95 
  • Available for Purchase From The Catholic Company
Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI both called upon the faithful to renew evangelization in the Church.  After several decades of slackened catechism, scandal, and a sense of malaise among many Catholics, the very word "evangelize" leaves many scratching their heads.  Do Catholics do that?  Am I supposed to hand out leaflets or get a soapbox?

Well, yes, we do that but we won't all do it in the same way.  Not everyone has the gift to preach, but we are all in the public square each day!  Do we use our lives as an opportunity to live our faith and shine His light?  We are expected to live the Gospel in our own ways using our own gifts. 

There is more to the Catholic faith than attendance at Mass for an hour on Sunday.  If I walk out the door and forget it all until the next weekend, I am not only shortchanging myself I am missing my chance to be the "salt and the light" and  I am failing to keep vows I made on my confirmation day.  If I don't live out my faith at home, I fail to keep the promises I made when I had my children baptized.

As Catholics this is a wonderful time to renew our faith and grow in understanding.  When I deepen my own knowledge, I find that I am naturally more compelled to share the Good News.  We all have ways that we can be evangelists.  For some it will mean service work while others may start standing up for what they believe with greater confidence during the next debate over social issues.  

Some of us are also led to teach the faith either through RICA courses or to our young people.  I am an eighth grade instructor and many of my students come to me with an outdated idea of a CCD program.   They think that these classes are only a matter of checking off the next box until they can be confirmed and "graduate".  

As their teacher, I have the chance to touch the hearts of these young people.  In turn, they can then remind their parents of their own Catholic roots.  How wonderful it is when we can support the Catholic family!
Pope Benedict reminded us that we would be called to ". . .walk first in the Way that is Christ, to make others know the beauty of the Gospel that gives us life."
Where do we begin?  This book is a wonderful place to start.  

The reader is first encouraged by some beautiful Scripture and quotations.  The next pages are a short foreword by His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, and an introduction by the author, Jem Sullivan.

Table of Contents
As you can see, there are only four chapters, but they are full of fantastic information, well, organized, and well fortified with references.  Some are incorporated into the text, others are offset in their own text boxes making it easy to come back and find them again.  Written in a workbook style, you will want to bring highlighters and a pen to mark it all up and fill in your thoughts and notes.  The well thought wide margins are very inviting!

This is a great book for any Catholic, no matter what stage they are at in their journey.  Whether you are just "opening the door" or working on bridging faith and culture.  (That was a chapter that I really dove into!)

There is a three page conclusion which includes a few paragraphs about Mary, and a couple of pages that reflect on the striking cover image and all of the messages that it conveys.

The last pages are the housekeeping matters of notes, sources, and an author bio.

Jem Sullivan is also the author of Study Guide to the United States Catechism for Adults and The Beauty of Faith: Using Christian Art to Spread the Good News.
Matthew 5: 13“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Whether you are called to service, or simply to be the salt and the light, you will get plenty of advice, encouragement, and a deeper understanding from this book.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Opening the Door of Faith:Study Guide Catechists. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.