I am currently writing a 9 page paper about the cultural analysis of my students and how I relate to them so that I can minister to them better. This is an excerpt from my paper;
When it comes to their faith life it is sometimes difficult for me to relate to my students so instead I try to learn from them. I try to listen to what makes them distance and understand where they are. I think the better I understand where they are the easier it is for me to teach and challenge them. “As the Asian-American theologian Peter Phan has noted, the Incarnation was the original “enculturation” of the Word of God, and the self-emptying Word of God is a model for all Christian efforts to enculturate the Gospel, “Like the incarnated Word, catechists must empty themselves of their own cultural assumptions and customs in order to enter fully into the cultures of the people they evangelize, live like them as far as possible, and announce to them the gospel in terms taken from their cultures” (Phan 212-13)” (Markuly, Fleischer 29). I read about this concept and was distressed when I learned that all we, Catholics, did as missionaries was to Westernize other cultures. This is not how we should bring the Gospel to others. We need to realize that God is already at work in that place regardless of Christianity. I spoke to my cousin about this recently he is a Congressional liaison the agency for international development. We talked about this same concept. He told me how the funding for foreign affairs is divided among emergency funds and funding to build up countries. He said there are quite a few different religious based organizations who do this work. Catholic Relief Services is one that really believes in understanding the culture, how it works, and what, given that culture, is the best way to help the country help itself. He said, “My job is to work myself out of a job. Our mission is to aid the foreign country in becoming independent and building up their community and ultimately country.” It is a self-emptying for the CRS workers to learn all about their systems and what they can do to assist them in succeeding within their culture. Similar to what I do on a much smaller scale in my classroom, I cannot draw a line in the sand and say, “This is the Catholic Church; be this, do that, and your youth culture is against it so you are not a part of the Church!” Instead I need to empty myself and understand where each person speaks from their history, culture, upbringing, socioeconomic experience, and find where God is already speaking to them in their lives. I am there to enliven the spirit of God, not to create more barriers.