All posts tagged: johnpmanfredi

Catholic Culture in the Classroom

Last summer I took a course on Catechesis and how to approach the work of sharing the Gospel through education. At some point during the course I was confronted with the question, “What is the culture of my classroom?” I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Initially, I thought about the experience my students have in my class, the generally positive student evaluations I receive, the comfortable relationships I have with the vast majority of my students. Then I thought about what my classroom actually looks like and how that informs the cultural milieu of the class: plenty of crucifixes, icons, and religious art, some Notre Dame swag (pennants and such), and half the Ignatius Press catalog on my bookshelf. Then I realized I have a rather shallow understanding of culture. In Truth and Tolerance, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that culture “has to do with perceptions and values. It is an attempt to understand the world and the existence of man with it . . . guided by the fundamental interest of our existence.”[1] …

The Catholic Imagination in the Classroom

My students have grown accustomed to their senses being bombarded with stimulation. They find it difficult, as do I, to cut off from the noise of the fast-paced world swirling around them. Too often, the media that falls in their lap, or rather pops up on their screen, is less than hopeful. It portrays a cold world where nothing is certain, only hard facts and “science” can be trusted, and faith must be kept at arm’s length, as all superstitions should. This worldview, in my opinion, is causing an existential crisis among our students before they even enter high school. This environment does nothing to help me as a teacher of theology to nourish the Catholic imagination of my students, a task I feel is at the center of my work as a catechist. In this world, a sacramental view is seen as foolish at best and willful ignorance at worst. This hermeneutic of skepticism makes it nearly impossible for conventional approaches to catechesis to break through the noise and open their eyes and ears …

God’s Patience and the Bible

“Mr. Manfredi, why didn’t God just send Jesus right after the Fall? Why didn’t He just nip this whole sin thing in the bud?” “Why did he even bother with all these covenants before Jesus and just get to the real deal?” “Why is the Bible so cryptic? If God wants us to understand it, why not just put it more simply?” These are the kinds of questions a high school theology teacher who teaches the Scriptures hears everyday. To be sure, these are good questions. They display a higher level of thinking. These kinds of questions indicate that the wheels are turning, someone is home, there are signs of life. I love these questions. Perhaps I love them so much because they are often very difficult to answer and I love a challenge. Mostly, I love these questions because the students are clearly in the midst of learning something immeasurably valuable. They are learning to deal with the dissatisfaction and frustration that studying scripture often brings. They are learning the virtue of patience. Patience is …