Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Case for Balance in Religious Education has been launched as both a playful website and a serious tool. Structured around a dozen games intended to build faith knowledge, this brand new site opens up the breadth and depth of the rich history and tradition of the Church, making it more accessible to young people in a medium they understand.

Every Q+A encountered in recalls a person, a place, an event, an idea, a prayer, a teaching, a proverb or a song that comes from the history of faith. These bits and bytes are windows into the tradition of faith, and they are intended to recall things that ought to be shared, remembered, celebrated and appropriated for understanding our faith and informing our lives today. is not trivial, nor a trivia game. Rather, it is a powerful and significant tool presented through a playful and attractive medium to excite students of all ages to grow in religious knowledge, to build faith vocabulary, to expand awareness about the depth and breadth of the tradition and to acquire a more substantial foundation for an informed and healthy spiritual and faith-filled life. is serious about raising the bar on building faith knowledge, but does not provide a full formative catechesis. This is best provided by people to people interaction. It does provide a substantial review of the history of our faith lived over the centuries that is still relevant to our experience of faith today.

Religious education has always held two dimensions of learning in creative tension: formation and information. Both are essential. Religious “formation” emphasizes the experience of faith: a personal relationship to Christ, an active sense of belonging to the Church through participatory events like liturgy, retreats, personal prayer, and parish-based volunteer and social services to the poor, etc. Many Catholic school classrooms and parish religious education programs as well as youth and young adult groups are excellent at providing these experiential and formative aspects of learning the faith.

Just as important for religious education, however, is the acquiring of knowledge. Now more than ever in this information age, knowledge is power! Religious educators, parish leaders and parents must equip our youth with knowledge “to give an account of the hope that is in us.” That knowledge begins with the grace of the Holy Spirit, but does not grow, nor is it concrete without words, signs, stories, images, sacraments, ministry and saints. Our faith comes to expression and our conversion is real and ongoing only with the advancement of Church history, the building of a sacramental community, the sharing of doctrinal ideas, the organization of visible structure, the emergence of leaders, the commitment to mission and ministry, etc. These are the evidence and the building blocks of faith knowledge. These are in a sense, the “Catholic substance.” A conscious appropriation of this Catholic substance along with a living and active participation in the life of a Eucharistic community is important for there to be real balance in religious education that is both informative and formative.

By inviting exploration of 10 Knowledge Categories: About God, About Church, Revelation and Faith, Liturgy and Sacraments, Morality and Catholic Social Teaching, Spirituality and Prayer, Church History, Lives of the Saints, Old Testament and New Testament; opens a wider lens and broader perspective and adds to the richness of the teaching moment - teachers with students, parents with children - in the classroom, at the parish and in our homes.


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