The Fatima Family Apostolate is international. Reading the Messenger magazine is but one aspect to a total apostolate reaching out to the family and all individuals. The focus is on sanctification of the family.
While I've been engaged in the Fatima Apostolate for the past 30 years, I've always had a deep concern for sound doctrine in catechetical approaches. I taught religion in the classroom for over 50 years, including a couple years before ordination and each week of the school year from the time I was ordained. This enabled me to recognize early on the funny catechisms and the widespread failures in catechetics that ensued even before the Second Vatican Council was ended.
Children and young people are the future of the Church. It is most important that they be taught the fullness of true faith and be formed in it. Education is not the same as formation. Education without formation is no guarantee that the child will believe and practice the true faith. Our Lady came as a Catechist at Fatima and formed the children. It was a message for our time.
The catechetical crisis has been the focus of literally thousands of articles in those segments of the Catholic press which are sound and loyal to the Church. Not a few diocesan papers are still in the hands of the liberal establishment. Our failures in teaching the true faith and giving formation opened the door to proselytizing by the Protestant fundamentalists.
In the late sixties into the seventies when I frequently wrote in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, and other sound Catholic publications, I also traveled the country speaking about the growing failures in catechetics. Uninformed people then were sometimes shocked to hear the truth. There are few practicing Catholic parents today who are unaware of these failures. Due to failures in religious education millions have been lost to participation and reception of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist through the Sacrifice of the Mass. It took the Bishops of the country until recent years to officially face these facts openly.
The Family Apostolate which this magazine represents offers various tools to help parents in both the education and formation of themselves and their children. Parents however will need to take time to obtain and become acquainted with the tools. Needed further is motivating their children and guiding them in their use, and giving good example.
Even if you are parents, fortunate to have a good Catholic school or CCD program in your area, it is important to remember that the faith is not transmitted through institutions. Rely on a good Catholic school alone and your child will not necessarily identify with the true faith. Witness to the faith within the home by informed and dedicated Catholic parents taking a personal interest in each child with a "one on one" attention, is crucial for the child to identify with the fullness of true faith.
Fifty to seventy-five years ago, young people could identify with the true faith simply by regular Mass attendance with parents and the family going to confession occasionally. The children memorized the Baltimore Catechism answers and some basic family prayers. Neighborhoods and close relatives offered support systems that were usually an extension of the local family and Catholic school and parish. All these presented to growing children similar lived-faith-values. Catholicism was often in the very air they breathed. That Catholic culture is gone. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that today families must become "islands of faith" amidst a pagan culture, much like the early Christians. Because the scene has changed the Fatima Family Apostolate International was developed to offer means of "families to families" support groups as listed in our CHARTER OF THE FATIMA FAMILY APOSTOLATE. It is recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Family. If you have not yet studied the Charter and its accompanying Marian Manual order these today
We need to start our children at a very young age to personally identify with the Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity, with Jesus as Lord and Savior, and with Mary as Mother and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, with St. Joseph, head of the Holy Family, and with one's Guardian Angel. A strong identification with all these within the Church, and the Saints as heroes and friends, must develop in a child before the teen years. That is why the FFA in 1989 developed Mary's White League which won recognition of the Pontifical Council for the Family at the Vatican. Please read this issue's feature: MARY'S WHITE LEAGUE. RJF