Linking with with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you another round of 7 Quick Takes!
One of the ways I manage to get in some of the learning and studying of the Catholic faith (that we're supposed to keep doing as Catholic adults) is to find a way to do it with some accountability and incentive. For me, Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women) has been that way.
Here is why I like them so much:
1. They bend over backwards to make sure this is something solidly Catholic
All of the studies have received the Imprimatur. Before I could start a group, Endow had to be approved by my bishop to be present in the diocese, I had to have personal recommendations from a priest and a lay Catholic, and my pastor had to approve of Endow coming into the parish.
It seems like a lot, but I really appreciate a group that makes sure to cover the bases. It beats getting problems later from being too hasty.
2. There is no homework!
Like seriously, no homework. We take turns reading the chapter in our weekly meeting.
3. It covers topics that I know I should learn about, but am still unlikely to do on my own.
So far we have covered Pope John Paul II's Letter to Women and St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae. Thursday begins our third run with Pope Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas (God is Love).
If I were to cover these on my own, it is very unlikely I would have gotten as deep of an understanding as I did from discussing them in the Endow group.
4. It makes the complicated approachable.
A lot of these texts are not easy! They have lots of philosophical terms, important historical contexts, and Latin. Lots of Latin.
To make it easy, Endow defines new words and fills in historical context in the side bar. No feeling weird about needing to ask what they mean by "Vatican II"!
5. Groups are kept small
This isn't just about getting material into your head. It's also about getting to know the other women in the group, and being comfortable enough to share personal stories.
Endow groups are capped at twelve members, and it is laid out in the first meeting that personal stories are understood to stay within the group. Any bigger than twelve, it becomes more difficult to participate in one discussion, and not everyone can be heard.
6. It lends itself well to a wide range of women.
We have a great mix of women who have been in our Endow group! Grad students, young mothers, retirees, grandmothers, single women, working women, introverts and extroverts.
When I started this group, I was in search of something to offer that didn't require that you know someone who knows someone. I wanted a woman new to the parish to look in the bulletin and see something she could join, and get to, easily.
7. We really do become good friends!
We're not discussing the weather in Endow! The deep material, real stories, and shared struggles mean that the women quickly become real life friends. We've been there for births, marriage struggles, engagements, and faith questionings. We're welcoming new women with every new session (they typically run eight weeks) and welcoming back regulars.
If you like how this sounds, and are thinking Endow might be a good thing for your parish, you can become a facilitator!
There are also three middle school studies and one high school study. Consider leading a group for those middle school girls!