a short story
In the spring of 2017, almost exactly five years ago now, I went on a day-long retreat for catechists that my diocese had put on. The retreat was called Kerygma Encounter, and, in the words of Monica Pope, the person who wrote the retreat, "the purpose of this retreat is to tell the best story better."
I had been introduced to the idea of theosis several years earlier at a lecture that my alma mater had hosted. However, while I was intrigued then, I wasn't able to get my questions answered to really process what was being proposed. However, at this Kerygma Encounter retreat, I was able to ask questions. And I asked a lot of them.
The idea of theosis scandalized me. "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (Catechism 460). No, that can’t be right. That goes way too far. Jesus came to forgive our sins so that we could one day go to heaven. How can we say that God is making us divine? But Monica patiently answered all my questions and gave me the space to wrestle with it.
When I left that retreat my relationship with God, and my whole view of Catholicism, was reoriented. So much so that I rewrote a lesson I was giving at my parish two weeks later about Confirmation (because Confirmation really is all about theosis).
Over the course of the next year I rewrote most of my catechesis lessons for my parish and shifted the way I formed my volunteer catechists. Theosis takes all the particular teachings about doctrine, sacraments, morality, and prayer and ties them all together.
In 2018, my diocese was looking for more people to be trained as presenters for this retreat. I signed up without hesitation. Since then I've probably led 30 of these retreats with Monica.
The doctrine of theosis is life changing. And a gospel without theosis is an impoverished gospel.
This doctrine also rests at the center of my new small group catechesis program, Father’s Heart Catechesis.
Father’s Heart Catechesis will, at every level, proclaim God’s love for you and all people. It’s inspired by Pope Francis, centered on the mystery of theosis, and deeply grounded in the magisterial documents of the Church.
FHC is for any Catholic who wants to grow in their relationship with God, who is struggling with their faith or with Church teaching, who feels like they may not belong in the Church anymore, or who simply wants to renew their love for God.
It’s also for catechists and parish ministers who want to experience life-giving catechesis in order to bring it back to their own communities.