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By: Carol Blank, "Writing Works" - January 14, 2008
Reader's Journal for the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults
Try It, You'll Like It
I heartily agree with the statement from the introduction to Reader's Journal: "(it) provides rich opportunities to articulate your faith and to reflect on how to live that faith in new and deeper ways." As the book's full title suggests, this is a companion to the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults (2006). I recall being impressed by the quality and content of that work, then putting it on my shelf, where it sat largely unused.
A trial run with the Reader's Journal changed all that. I read over the ideas for using the journal for individuals, groups, and RCIA candidiates. They started with "refer often" to the suggested pages in the catechism as you approach the parallel read-reflect-respond and meditate-pray-act sections in the journal. Conceivably, the journal could be used as a stand-alone; however I decided to give it a full try. I chose to cover one chapter (Bring about the Obedience of Faith) over two days, and to read all the pages in the catechism and write all my responses. The result was amazing. I have long thought about a spiritual journal, now I had started one. I spent about 40 minutes the first day, writing a summary of my thoughts before quitting. The next day I began by rereading what I had written, then worked through the remaining sections. Again, I closed with a paragraph on the whole experience. Altogether I spent about an hour.
The themes that bubbled up are closely related to my life in the here and now as well as expectations for the hereafter. I was pleased with the things I wrote and the decisions that evolved; obviously the Spirit was at work. Determined to make this journal activity a regular exercise, I tried several of the scheduling options from the introduction to find the best fit for me. I also began recommending the catechism-journal practice to my friends, especially those in faith sharing groups.
By: Arnold Rzepecki, Catholic Library World - June 18, 2008
The arrangement of this book parallels the 36 chapters of the Catechism for Adults. Its purpose is to help individuals make a connection between the Catechism and Catholic life. Each chapter ends with a challenge to identify ways to put our faith into practice. It appears that after the appearance of the Catechism for Adults, there was an immediate study on how to put this tome to good use.
The journal is meant for individuals wishing to better articulate their religious convictions. It is a great resource for RCIA candidates and other adult faith formation groups. The journal provides the opportunity to reflect and respond to the material in the Catechism in an organized way. The exercises were developed to make the doctrinal material of the Catechism more relevant. It is a wonderful way to learn the teaching of our faith and to see the implications for daily life.
After references and a brief description of each section of the Catechism, there are two opportunities for personal response. One part is entitled, "Read, Reflect, Respond," and the other is "Meditate, Pray, Act." They list ideas and suggestions for the user.
The Bishops have designed a very practical and useful tool to help us wend our way through the Catechism. But more significant than the study guide is the "Meditate, Pray, Act" aspect of the journal. The journal is recommended for the audience for which it is written.