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Because giving up chocolate is ho-hum, how about tackling Lent like this?



Patty Knap - published on 02/19/18

Online classes on the Church and the spiritual life don't turn out to be a sacrifice. They're informational, entertaining and even life-altering.

Giving up chocolate for Lent is so ho-hum. A couple of years ago, wanting to take up rather than renounce something, I looked into online Catholic classes. The range of possibilities in this field has increased dramatically in just the past five years. I committed myself to one of them that Lent, one night a week through a live video class.

It turned out to be not much of a sacrifice — I loved the class, and I’ve been taking online classes continually ever since!

Of course we don’t have to give up something for Lent — we can add something extra for Lent instead. Some people like to commit to weekday Mass or a daily Rosary; others Adoration or spiritual reading. The purpose is to grow closer to God, to follow Him in a more focused way.

Taking an authentically Catholic class online helps with both, and can greatly increase our knowledge and understanding of our faith.

When I started taking online classes, I simply picked a title and course description that caught my attention. Many classes can be taken with a certificate or degree in mind, ranging from theology degrees, to catechesis, or spiritual direction, although many people participate in online classes simply for their own personal growth. An enormous range of topics are available through accredited institutions, and some offer a limited number of scholarships. Others are even free.

What made it easier is that you don’t even have to be available every class time, because the video class is available to watch any time after the actual live class session. I absolutely loved the books required for each class. Some of them I’d never heard of, yet they’re among the most life altering of books every written.

Among the readings were PDFs and documents available on the web and books found at my local library (or that I could request), or available inexpensively through Catholic publishers or even used through Amazon.

Teachers and even other classmates can be contacted to discuss class lectures, readings, or homework, or to ask questions. During live class times,  you can chat back and forth with classmates from around the world.

I found myself wanting to understand better our faith along with other moms across the U.S., seminarians here as well in Belarus and South Africa, theology students, CCD teachers, retirees, and searching young adults. It was fascinating to share and deepen my faith and explore our faith questions with this wide range of people.

With classes on Scripture, discernment, lives of the saints, spiritual direction, Vatican II, the sacraments, as well as more specific courses such as Breaking the Chains that Bind Us, Gift of the Holy Spirit and the Divine Indwelling, Introduction to Spiritual Theology, Marian Apparitions in the Modern World, there is definitely something for everyone.

Truly online Catholic classes have opened wider the doors of the Church for me, helping me understand the truth, history and theology of our faith with greater depth.

“The Lord wants us all to know and understand His truth, so we can embrace it wholeheartedly and live by it. Christ reminds us, “The truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

Here are some of the solidly Catholic sources for classes that I’ve discovered:

Avila Institute
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Catholic Distance University
My Catholic Faith Delivered

LentSpiritual Life
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