What’s Wrong with Age-Bracketed Sacramental Prep?

In a private conversation I found myself writing, "This is why I despise, and I do mean despise, age-bracketed sacramental prep."  I'm referring to the practice, nearly universal, of giving all the Catholic seven-year-olds First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, and then setting another age -- could be seven, or nine, or fourteen, or seventeen -- when we round them up again and give out Confirmation.  RCIA is more of the same, if we count "age" in terms of "months spent attending our pr … [Read more...]

Are You Smarter than a “Prominent Catholic?” Archbishop Cordileone Rocks the Gospel.

The trouble with being Catholic is that there's not a quiz at the door.  One can thus rise to "prominent Catholic" status without knowing anything much at all about the Catholic faith, as readers of The Chronicle will have observed in the advertisement taken out by San Francisco citizens deeply concerned that Archbishop Cordileone is acting like a Catholic.It's not a particular surprise that the signatories are confused about their faith, since they also seem to think Pope Francis reads th … [Read more...]

Getting the Parent-Church Relationship Right

In private discussions of my post about the role of parents in catechesis, a number of variations on, "But parents like catechists!" came up.  I couldn't agree more.  I'm a parent, and I actively seek out opportunities to put my children into the hands of other faithful Catholic adults.The answer to supporting parents in their role as primary educators of their children isn't first kill all the catechists.  Absolutely not.Rather, it's a question of priorities and focus. Are we telling par … [Read more...]

The Hero Complex that is Destroying the Catholic Faith

Ninth grade is when our parish does confirmation, and my son indicated last summer that yes, he'd like to be confirmed.  Would it be possible, I inquired with Father E., for the boy to prepare for the sacrament outside the bounds of the usual parish program?  For various reasons Father said no, he really needed the kid to go through the youth group just like everyone else.I happen to like our youth minister, and because her gifts are so different than mine, I was happy for the boy to spend a … [Read more...]

A Patron Saint for Rabble Rousers and their Bishops

When I answered Tom McDonald's How I Pray series, one of the pile of question marks in the black hole that is my prayer life concerned spiritual reading.  Two answers of late:1. The book I'm carrying around town and reading in snatches is Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper, by Brant Pitre.  So far, it's excellent. Recommended if you have a general understanding of the significance of the Mass and the Last Supper, and are looking for so … [Read more...]

Understanding the Catholic Blogosphere 101

In response to a private conversation lamenting some of the unrelenting negativity that can infect the Catholic internet, my response: Everything is so, so local. If you live in one of the black holes of the Church, you think everything is a black hole. If you live in one of the hopeful areas, you think things are hopeful.So what happens is that everyone living in the holes finds each other on the internet, and says, "Yes! That's what I'm seeing too!"Add into that the variations of … [Read more...]

The Antidote to both Clericalism and Nostalgia . . .

. . . is a thorough reading of the lives of the saints.  Don't pick up one of those sweet-tart packets of platitudes people try to pass off as hagiography.  What you want, if you wish to understand the Church and understand the nature of the Faith, is Butler's Lives, the big version.  Here are excerpts from the life St. Beatus of Liebana, who died circa 798, and whose feast came around just recently: . . . there was at Toledo an aged archbishop called Elipandus, who had been infected by that su … [Read more...]