The Six “Dimensions” — or “Hopes,” Really — of Adult Faith Formation
“Continue Stirring” is a series of blog posts offering insights, principles and best practices from the October 2013 adult faith formation workshop, “Stirring the Fire of Faith: From Spark to Flame.”
This post focuses on a few key points from Part 3 of Sr. Maureen Shaughnessy’s presentation, “Stirring the Embers.”
An Introduction to the Six “Hopes” of AFF
In her presentation, Sister Maureen discussed what are called, in “Heartburn” and in AFF circles, the “Six Dimensions,” which are, in actuality, the “Six Tasks” of catechesis offered in the General Directory for Catechesis (GDC). However, I like to think of these as the “Six Hopes” of AFF, and of catechesis in general.
I use the word “hope” because each of the six is an outcome that every catechist should hope to attain to some degree or other. Since Sister Maureen does a great job of unpacking each of the “Six Hopes,” I have listed only three of them below along with a brief comment.
Knowledge of faith
We hope to form adults so that they come away with a greater knowledge of the faith. The “objective” knowledge I am referring to concerns the scriptures and the teachings of the church. However, there is also a “subjective” knowledge of the faith, one that is lived and developed via one’s personal experience of Christ and the Church.
The fruit of objective knowledge is competency (i.e., a person understands the reasons for their beliefs and is able to articulate them). On the other hand, the fruit of subjective knowledge is intimacy and communion. Moreover, subjective knowledge concerns one’s relationship with God; it involves “knowing” God in the deepest, biblical sense of the word. Adults need both types of knowledge in order to mature in their faith.
We hope to form adults so that they can understand and participate more fully in the worship of Christ both privately and publicly.
Such participation requires a genuine understanding of one’s baptismal calling to live as a priest, prophet, and king in the name of Jesus. Fuller participation in worship also demands that adults understanding the meaning and importance of sacramentality.
We hope to form adults so that they live as people of the beatitudes. This includes fostering a positive understanding of human dignity, destiny, freedom and social responsibility. It also includes the inculcation into healthy living “habits” (virtues), the aim of which is to lead people to happiness and holiness.
“Help” to remember the Six Hopes
Bill Smith from Loyola Press, has added to Joe Paprocki’s “HELP” acronym in order to “help” himself (and you and me) remember the “Six Hopes.”
Hold on to our faith—Creed
Express our faith—Liturgy and Sacraments
Live our faith—Moral life
Pray our faith—Prayer
Adding ME to this acronym gives us the additional two tasks.
Mentor our faith—Apprenticeship in Christian living
Evangelize our faith—Promote a missionary spirit
Take a moment now and consider how your parish is ministering to adults.
- How is your parish currently trying to achieve the first three “hopes?” What about the other three?
- Of the three discussed above, do you find that your parish tends to focus on one more than the others? Why is that do you think?
- To hope to promote the knowledge of the faith in your parish, consider offering a “fun fact” about Catholicism at your AFF meetings, in your bulletin, or on your parish website. A good resource for such facts is the book, Why Do Catholics Do That? by Kevin Orlin Johnson.
- To hope to promote liturgical life in your parish, consider incorporating liturgical signs into your AFF meetings (e.g., the sign of the cross, prayer itself, candles, the Bible, sacred artwork, holy cards, liturgical colors, etc.).
- To hope to promote moral formation in your parish, consider adopting the Good News People or Just Faith programs. For more resources, check out our Dealing with Moral Issues resource page.
Finally, I recommend that you take a few minutes to view, “The Six Tasks of Catechesis: Putting on Christ,” with Joe Paprocki, National Consultant for Faith Formation for Loyola Press.
How is your parish currently trying to achieve the “six hopes” of adult faith formation?