[caption id="attachment_172158" align="aligncenter" width="1180"] Image by Andrea Piacquadio (2020), Pexels.com, CC0/PD[/caption]
St. John Henry Newman once said, “As according to the need, grace is given.” The significance of St. Newman’s statement is his subtle demonstration of God’s perpetual presence in the lives of His children. This is an important perspective because it properly positions the Father as the source of all that is good. It also reveals God as truth, beauty and goodness which is very important for anyone involved in teaching the Catholic faith because it provides the Catholic educator with a basis of teaching from a Divine Perspective.
Christ provides us with a clear example of teaching from a Divine perspective where He exclaims: "My teaching is not from myself; it comes from the one who sent me" (John 7:16). St. Paul provides further context of teaching from a Divine perspective where he exhorts to "seek the that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not in things that are on earth" (Col 3:1-3).
Why teach from the Divine Perspective?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (199) provides a clear picture about the importance of teaching from a Divine perspective:
I believe in God: this first affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed is also the most fundamental. The whole Creed speaks of God, and when it also speaks of man and of the world it does so in relation to God. The other articles of the Creed all depend on the first, just as the remaining Commandments make the first explicit. The other articles help us to know God better as he revealed himself progressively to men. “The faithful first profess their belief in God."
Teaching from the Divine perspective introduces the doctrine of the Trinity which is the fundamental teaching of the Church and the Hierarchy of Truth all faithful Christians are called to freely assent by nature of our created order and the sacrament of Baptism. This approach demonstrates the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit which is important when teaching the Catholic faith. The reason is because it’s the foundation or gateway toward understanding Christ and His Church. Jesus himself affirms that God is “the one Lord” whom you must love “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” At the same time Jesus gives us to understand that he himself is “the Lord” (CCC 202).
How does one teach from the Divine Perspective?
A first step to consider when teaching from the Divine Perspective is that your student should receive an overwhelming sense of joy and acceptance that he is part of the Kingdom of God. In relation to this first step is the importance of teaching our students that they bear the image and likeness of God. A clear and practical example is found in Exodus 2 where is describes the communication between God and Moses.
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The Divine Teacher does the following:
- He calls for Moses meaning He seeks Him as we would call on the attention of our students we desire to teach and is visible to them.
- He reveals Himself by way of a burning bush that is not consumed, meaning He appeals to the senses of Moses to capture his attention first by announcement then by a physical example.
- He specifically tells Moses who He literally is; “I am who am.” God establishes and reveals His Identity to Moses. It is important that our student know who they are in relationship to God the Father but also that this intimate relationship leads all of us to the Son Jesus Christ.
- God then tells Moses who He is and where Moses comes introducing to God’s salvific plan for humanity.
- He then tells Moses what he must do on God’s behalf to offer His chosen people the Israelites a direct opportunity to worship Him.
The examples derived from Exodus 2 provide us with a basic Divine Rubric on how God communicates to his Children. Teaching from the Divine perspective simply means that our direct instruction is derived from God the Father and all that He has revealed through His Son Jesus Christ. The Divine Perspective should demonstrate How God intimately places Himself in the lives of His Children which means that we as religious educators are called to assist students foster and actively engage a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The great Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc adequately sums up teaching from a Divine perspective:
The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine – but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.
Copyright 2020 Marlon De La Torre
About the Author
Marlon currently serves as the Director of Catechist Formation and Children’s Catechesis for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. He is an adjunct professor of Catechetics for Holy Trinity Seminary serving the Diocese of Dallas and Fort Worth and an adjunct professor of Catechetics for The Catholic Distance University. His published works include Screwtape Teaches the Faith. Learn more about Marlon's work at his blog Knowing Is Doing.