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...]

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...]

Christian Community and the Loss of Penance

In a private forum, someone asked why Catholics don't talk about acts of penance so much anymore.  Why so little discussion of fasting, self-denial, self-mortification, and the like?  It's out of vogue.I floated a thought or two (summary: I'm Exhibit A for Poor Penitential Performance), and someone came back with the observation that penance is something we're expected to do all on our own. It's not communal.I replied: I think that's true. We have all kinds of self-chosen suffering tha … [Read more...]

Why the Bad Music at Mass?

Fr. Longenecker writes here on why Catholics can't have good music, and he makes a decent historical argument:Suddenly we were flooded with new hymns–most of which had banal lyrics, crappy folk music and trite sentiment. The Catholics didn’t sing the old hymns because they didn’t know them. In the meantime they were having lots of awful new songs shoved down their throat and they (quite rightly) didn’t bother singing them because they knew deep down that they were either unsingable or execrab … [Read more...]

The 2nd Commandment is Like It: The US Bishops Face Their Boko Haram

In thinking about the massacres in Nigeria, my train of thought ran like this:How can anyone bear to be associated with this?  I was thinking about the whole Muslim world.  You want to be part of this? No. Of course not.One of the rare pleasures of being me is that thus far every faithful Muslim I've gotten to know has been a gentle, God-loving person.  The kind of person who would have nothing to do, ever, with the atrocities of their coreligionists.We on the outside of the Mu … [Read more...]

You Know Catholic Education Has Serious Problems When . . .

. . .  Father Barron can drop a quote like this: To see how quickly this transformation can happen, take a good look at the philosophy department at many of the leading Catholic universities: what were, in the 1950’s overwhelmingly theistic professoriats are today largely atheist.  And it's just some passing fact. The kind of thing everyone knows. A tidbit we mention in order to demonstrate some larger point.When the philosophy department is run by atheists, it's not Catholic education.  If … [Read more...]

Single-Solution Christian Formation is Guaranteed to Fail

In the on-going conversation on what works, and what doesn't, in youth ministry, here are two threads, seemingly disparate, that share what I propose is the #1 fallacy we Catholics cling to when it comes to Christian formation:Richard Becker argues here for changing the age at which we administer the sacrament of Confirmation.  It's the kind of article I'm inclined to like, for all sorts of good reasons. Meanwhile, Fr. Peter Daly in the Archdiocese of Washington was able to track down … [Read more...]