The Problem with Catechesis Is that It’s Been Found Difficult and Not Tried

FamilyCatechesis201019

Gilbert Chesterton famously said, “The problem with Christianity is not that it’s been tried and found wanting, it’s been found difficult and not tried.”

If you change the word Christianity for Catechesis, you have a description of the problem with the “unfaithful laity” in many parts of this country, if not the world.

As exhibit A, let me point you toward the mess at Eastside High School in Seattle. This school, which is nominally Catholic, appears to cater to rich little kids and provide them with a full blast of self-actualizing claptrap with a layer of do-gooderism and little c catholicism on top to make them feel good.

When their openly-gay vice principal “married” his partner, the school, in what was probably a stunning display of unexpected fidelity to Church teaching, decided to enforce its school contract and employee guidelines and dismiss him. The student body, which had clearly been catechized more by the vice principal and his supporters than anyone imparting Catholic teaching, reacted by staging a walk out.

Instead of expelling the students for walking out of class, the school pretty much caved on a later problem with another teacher.

Now, for all their what’s-happening-now weak-as-water Catholicism, the school is being sued by said vice principal.

Exhibit B would be the Seattle priest who wrote a column for a national magazine, taking a public stand against the teachings of the Church whose collar he wears.

Exhibit C would be the many Catholic politicians I know whose knowledge of what the Church teaches on issues such as the sanctity of human life and the sacrament of marriage is limited to slogans, and most of them come from the media which is openly hostile to their Church. You can place the parish priests who’ve told them it’s ok to vote against pro life legislation and for gay marriage, even while their bishops are begging them to do the opposite, alongside the politicians on the exhibit table.

What’s wrong with catechesis?

1. It stops at the little-kid-in-Sunday-school level.

2. Despite the fact that most priests are faithful to the Church, nobody with authority in the Church says a word to disagree with those who aren’t. Don’t any of these guys answer to superiors in this hierarchical Church of ours? How, exactly, can the bishops expect the laity to respond to their leadership when their own priests are either ignoring the bishop or flat-out telling their parishioners that their personal ideas trump Church teaching in matters of mortal sin?

3. Nobody seems interested or able to answer the onslaught of attacks from the world at large that the laity is facing. We need leadership, and we’re not getting it. At the very least we need an acknowledgement of what the laity must endure in this post Christian America.

4. Too much catechesis in more liberal parishes preaches a little g social gospel that is almost totally silent on Church teaching about justice. On the other hand, too much catechesis in conservative parishes focuses on sanctity of life and marriage to the exclusion of social issues. Worse, they do this in a political, rather than a moral manner.

The American Church has grown soft. It is no longer the Church Militant. It seems more like the church self-indulgent.

I keep wanting to shake people and paraphrase the line from the movie Aliens, “Maybe you haven’t been keeping up with current events, but we’ve been getting our rear ends kicked.”

There is no reason to panic or sink into depression because of the recent losses in the courts and at the polls on social issues. We can turn that around. All it takes is the will and determination to do it on the part of the laity. 

That is the key, you know: The laity.

We’ve got the task of changing the world. The clergy has the task of catechizing/inspiring/leading us so that we are equipped to do that. Unfortunately, before the laity can convert the world, the laity itself needs to be converted. Too many Catholics treat Jesus as their cop-out instead of their Lord.

I know that’s a tall order for our priests. I also know that it most decidedly is not what a good many of our men in collars thought they were signing up for when they took their vows. Most of the priests we have today entered a priesthood rolling in automatic respect and trust for their calling which spilled over onto them personally. They saw themselves giving homilies, administering parishes, providing comfort, healing hurts, taking on an occasional pilgrimage and basically doing predictable and rewarding work throughout the long slide to safe and predictable retirement.

What has changed is that they now have to do all those things, with a call to battle heaped on top of it. They must somehow find a way to deal with demoralized and angry parishioners while they play catch up in preparing their people to be strong in their faith in the face of hostility, and learn how to convert a self-dissembling culture.

They’re not up to it. I know that.

But this is the our time. These are our challenges. And the job in front of us is the one the Holy Spirit has chosen for us.

We’ve got to support our priests who are trying to be faithful while learning how to do a whole new job and add it on top the job they already have. As for Catechesis, the parish and diocese which needs it the most are probably also the ones which will mount aggressive resistance to it. When priests try to teach what the Church teaches, parishioners who are also faithful to the Church need to stand by them absolutely, especially in the face of hostility from parishioners who have grown accustomed to the Church teaching what the world teaches.

Catechesis as we’ve been doing it is failing our children, our families, our Church and Our Lord. The evidence is all around us.

That’s the first fact we have to face. The second, which is that we must change our way of doing Catechesis, follows on its heels. Everything after that is detail.

 

 

Transitioning to Religious Life: One Postulant’s Story

YouTube Preview Image

In Their Own Words: Pope Francis and Cardinal Dolan on Civil Unions

 

Pope Francis has given another interview and the internet is ga ga.

According to things I’ve read, the Holy Father has come out in favor of civil unions for homosexuals.

Cardinal Dolan gave another interview, and, again according to reports I’ve read, he agreed that the Holy Father is favoring civil unions.

This is a real show-stopper for Catholics who depend on the Church to not compromise on the basic teachings of the faith. Is the Holy Father planning to overturn Blessed John Paul II’s teaching when he said,

IV. POSITIONS OF CATHOLIC POLITICIANS
WITH REGARD TO LEGISLATION IN FAVOUR
OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.

If this letter by Pope John Paul II is now to be discarded, why should Catholic politicians pay attention to other letters by succeeding popes, or, for that matter, bishops? I’m here to tell you that I took it very seriously, and taking it seriously has exacted a great cost on me and my life. If the new story is basically April Fool, it was all a joke, I’m not laughing.

I honestly think that one reason so many other Catholic politicians have failed to heed what Blessed John Paul II and later, Pope Benedict XVI, taught us is that no one bothered to teach them about it. For reasons that I do not understand, Catholics are left to find these documents, read and interpret them themselves and then act according to them all on their own. The Church does not teach what it teaches to the people in the pews.

I think that if their pastors and bishops had taken the trouble to teach Catholic teaching — including what Pope John Paul II said in this letter — to our elected officials, a good many of them would have behaved differently in the past couple of years. I also think a lot of good Catholic people would not be so flim-flammed by what the world teaches.

Despite everything I just said, I don’t expect that we will see Pope Francis overturn what Blessed John Paul II taught in this matter. I think this is just another flap caused by a reply to a question in an interview. If you read what Pope Francis actually said, it becomes clear that the only definitive statement he made is that marriage is between one woman and one man. He then goes on to enumerate a few of the many manifestations of civil unions around the globe and ends with a political sounding “we’ll take it under advisement” type comment.

Now that I’ve said my say, I want to let you decide for yourself. Here is a video of the salient portion of Cardinal Dolan’s interview. Notice that the Cardinal says he hasn’t read the Holy Father’s actual words. He’s basing his comments entirely on press reports about the interview and not the interview itself. (Mistake.)

YouTube Preview Image

If you want to read the full text of Pope Francis’ interview, you can find it at Catholic News Agency.

If you want a quick take, here is the question on civil unions, and the Holy Father’s answer:

Many nations have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?

Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures, of which I wouldn’t know how to list the different ways. One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.

Jen Fitz, who blogs at Sticking the Corners, offers her take on the Pope Fancis/Civil Unions debate here.

Feasting, Jesuit Style

 

Martin james

 

YouTube Preview Image

Fired Homesexual Catholic School VP Sues

He’s suing.

Of course he is.

Mark Zamuda, former vice principal at Eastside Catholic School in Seattle, is now suing the school. The school dismissed the openly gay vice principal when he “married” his same sex partner.

Students at the Catholic school staged a walk out and at least one Catholic priest stood tall against the collar he’s wearing by coming out in support of the students.

Now, said principal is adding the cherry on top by filing a lawsuit against the school and the archdiocese. According to a Christian News article, Mr Zamuda’s attorneys are arguing that his position as a coach, teacher and vice principal  was “administrative” and not “affiliated with the Church’s teaching.”

“I didn’t ask to be gay,” Mr Zamuda advises. However, he did, presumably, apply for employment at a Catholic School. Since he says he’s a “lifelong Catholic,” he also probably knew that the Catholic Church teaches that sex outside marriage between one man and one woman is a mortal sin. He may even have read the employment contract that he signed agreeing that his public behaviors would at all times be consistent with the values and teachings of the Catholic Church.  He may also have read the same requirement in the employee handbook.

How will this nasty little dirt fight end?

Who knows?

Let’s just sit back and see if the renegade Catholics in Seattle can top themselves in thumbing their noses at the Church this Lent, or if they’ve reached their true bottom.

Forty Days of Funny with James Martin, SJ

 

YouTube Preview Image

We Need to Stand with Faithful Priests Who Happen to be Homosexual

Many of our priests are homosexual.

This is a much-known but little talked about fact of Catholic life.

Some of these homosexual priests are not faithful priests.

That is also a much-known but little talked about fact of Catholic life.

But most homosexual priests are truly devout, faithful priests who are loving pastors.

That is a very well known, but again, little talked about, fact of Catholic life.

As we move forward into this post Christian world, all of us, laity and clergy alike, are going to be challenged by the larger culture. We will find ourselves having to “choose this day” whom we will serve over and again.

We will have to choose between our political parties and the teachings of Christ.

We will have to choose between old friends we love like family and the teachings of Christ.

We will sometimes find ourselves standing alone, harried by professed unbelievers and fallen believers working in tandem to force us to compromise our followership in Christ to go along with the crowd. It may get quite ugly.

As all this winds through, our need for one another will become important to our emotional strength and peace of mind. We are settling in for a long fight. We need the sustenance that only true Christian community can offer to carry us through.

Our priests are going to have to lead us through this. The need for priests who are on fire for Christ and His Church has never been greater. We need their leadership.

And they need our support.

Scripture says that without vision the people perish. The vision that will sustain us and enable us to re-convert our lost culture must come from the clergy.

These priests, most of whom are totally unprepared for it, are going to have to dig down inside themselves and find the courage and the faith to lead us through the storms ahead. It’s won’t be easy for them. Many of them will and are failing the test.

There is no doubt — none — that at least some of the ones who stand for Christ will be attacked for doing it. Which leads me to the crux of this post.

Homosexual priests are especially vulnerable to being “outed” and blackmailed by threats of being “outed.” I personally know a priest (who is not from Oklahoma) who was “outed” to his parish as punishment for his support of traditional marriage.

When this happens, we are going to have to stand with these men. It does not matter whether a priest is homosexual or straight. They are, or should be, celibate men who have given their lives to Christ and His Church. The only concern we should have is whether or not they lead us in the authentic teachings of the faith.

We need them to shepherd us through these times, and as the times get uglier, we are going to have to support them when they are maliciously and unjustly attacked.

I am not in any way talking about hiding child abuse or turning a blind eye to reprehensible behavior. I believe that we in the laity have a right to expect authenticity from our priests.

I am talking about something quite specific, and that is the threat of blackmail of faithful priests who happen to be homosexual by “outing” them as gay to their parishes. When someone decides to “out” father so-and-so, we need to look at father so-and-so with the same tenderness that he offers us in the confessional. We need to judge him by his works, his walk with Christ, and not by the attacks which are leveled against him for his fidelity.

A priest who preaches Christ and who does it fearlessly, who consoles us in our grief and forgives us in our shame, is literally a gift from God. When such a priest is attacked, we owe him our support in return.

Pope Francis to Roman Priests: Does Your Day End with God or with Television?

Pope Francis speaks from the heart to his brother priests in a touching, whimsical discussion.

YouTube Preview Image

Doing Lent in the Fast Lane

Lent 1

How to do Lent in the fast lane?

More to the point, how to do Lent when I’m catching myself running in circles?

This time of year is uber busy, fragmented and exhausting for Oklahoma House Members. How do I find time to pray more than Now I lay me and Bless us oh Lord?

What of the disciplines of fasting, alms and deep examination of conscience? Does all that go by the board when I’m stuck eating whatever is put in front of me and almost never get a moment alone?

I’m certain that I’m not the only person who finds themselves caught in a whirlpool of busyness during these days of Lent. That is, after all, our modern curse.

We are overwhelmed by a tsunami of too much: Too much stuff, too many activities and far too many people competing for our attention.

“Doing” Lent under those circumstances can easily reduce itself down to its lowest common denominator. Tuna sandwich for lunch on Fridays? Check. Grilled cheese for lunch on Ash Wednesday? Check. Confession, whether you need it or not? Check and check. And, oh yes, keep your sticky little fingers out of the candy dish at work.

Here we are, dealing with the fulcrum of history; the moment at which everything changed. We are considering the point at which the hopelessness of vanity, vanity all is vanity before Calvary was transformed into the birth of life everlasting after Calvary. Everything turns on that hilltop with the three crosses 2,000 years ago.

Lent is designed to take us there. It is meant to bring us to our knees before the foot of the cross where we can be born again.

But when you’re being drug by the runaway horse of overwhelming busyness that is our modern life, how do you do more than the minimum? How do you find the space, the quiet, the time to hear that still small voice?

I’ve dealt with this for years and to be honest, I’ve never found a fully satisfactory answer for it. Doing the minimum isn’t so minimum when it’s all you can manage. There is an element of faithfulness involved in those tuna sandwiches and skipped candy.

The trouble with doing the minimum is that it leaves you basically the same as you were before you did it. You don’t necessarily slide back spiritually the way you would if you didn’t try at all, but you won’t grow in Christ by doing the minimum. The minimum leaves you spiritually fed, but at a bare sustenance level.

Doing the minimum is just a step above not doing at all. It’s easy to slide from the minimum to less than the minimum and a deteriorating faith walk that leaves you half Christian.

How does anyone grow spiritually while living the lives we do, where emotional fracturing and distancing from faith seem built into the structure of it?

My advice, which is the advice of a woman whose Lenten practices are mostly a matter of minimums sandwiched into busyness, is to do at least the minimum, no matter what. Even if it means eating really substandard food like a spoonful of banquet carrots with a spoonful of banquet mashed potatoes with some kind of something that’s supposed to be gravy for lunch, do the minimum. Do it even if you can’t for the life of you remember your sins and have to search your memory while you’re standing in line outside the confessional.

I have a completely personal theology for doing the minimum that I call “God supplies the lacks.” What I mean by that is that I trust that if I don’t remember to confess every sin, or even my most important sins, God, Who knows everything about me, will supply the lacks and forgive me my forgetfulness, He supplies the lacks in my confession. God supplies the lacks. I don’t have anything but my own faith to base that on, but I believe it to a profound level.

I am not talking about deliberate refusal to do what you should when you have the opportunity to do it. I mean when you’re grinding metal in your life, God will supply the lacks to see you through it spiritually intact. All you have to do is your part, by which I mean those minimums offered up with the knowledge that the minimum is not really enough to keep you spiritually healthy for the long haul and a firm intention to do more and do better when you can.

This leads me to the “when you can” part of that. If your life is like Marine Corp boot camp 52 weeks out of every year, you really need to re-think your way of living. Otherwise, you’re going to be talking to God face to face a lot sooner than you expect. No one can use themselves up without breaking stride for their whole span of days.

You have to take time outs. It is essential to your sanity, health and purpose as a human being. For a workaholic, time out requires discipline. It is just as difficult for someone who is inured to a life of constant stimulation and overwork to take a pause as it is for a couch potato to get up and get moving. They are two sides of the same self-destructive coin.

Obeying the commandment to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” is your best friend in this. I didn’t know this a year ago. I didn’t even know it six months ago. I had one of those spoing! moments of insight that occasionally come along. I realized that I had been breaking one of the commandments without realizing the significance of what I was doing.

It’s not easy for someone like me to quit working for one full day each week. But I have found it to be my new best friend. I recommend it for anyone and everyone as a bare minimum of Christian living. It not only rests your mind; it opens your heart to God. I was surprised by the effect this simple act of obedience had on my closeness with Christ. If your job requires you to work on Sunday and you can’t get out of it, my advice is take your sabbath rest on another day. Do not cheat yourself of this great gift of the Sabbath.

Sunday rest is another bare minimum of Christian followership. But if you add it to the bare minimums of fasting, confession, weekly eucharist, you will find that they combine to lift you out of the basement Christian walk of maintenance spirituality and into a gentle curve of Christian growth.

Doing Lent in the fast lane is often about doing the minimum. The minimum will starve you spiritually over the long haul. But if you do it with love of Christ, you will be able to make up for it at other times.

That’s how I get through it. I do the minimum, and whatever else I can in addition to that minimum. And I trust God to supply the lacks.

New Jersey 18-Year-Old Sues Parents for Private School Tuition. Loses in Court.

GI 76360 troubledteensfighting

She can vote.

She can join the Army.

She can be participate in pornography and prostitution and no one will be tried for abusing a child.

She can be tried and convicted of crimes as an adult in our courts of law.

So, why is this “child” suing her parents for support? Not, mind you, just support. She is suing for tuition to private schools. The articles I read also said she is suing for a share of an educational savings account.

I don’t know who owns the educational savings account. If her name is on it as well as her parents, then she may have a legitimate case about that.

As for the rest of it, I am a bit confused by this young lady’s thinking.

Rachel Canning, of Lincoln Park, NJ, is suing her parents for tuition money and support. She says that her parents kicked her out of the house when she turned 18. Somehow, she thinks that her parents are required by law to keep her in the style to which they have evidently led her to become accustomed into the foreseeable future.

I’m not exactly sure of the legal peg she’s hanging this on. There must be some strange wrinkle in New Jersey law that makes this a credible case. So far as I can see, Ms Canning is an adult. No one is required to support her under penalty of law, and that includes her parents. However the court arguments I’ve read seem to revolve around whether or not Ms Canning is emancipated. Under Oklahoma law, that question would arise if she was a minor. Since she’s 18, it would not. The assumption is that adults, unless they are legally not responsible due to some sort of disability, are emancipated.

Even if she was still a minor child, I don’t know of any stipulation under the law (at least here in Oklahoma) that requires parents to provide private school educations for their children. Children are entitled to an education, and if the parents don’t provide an alternative such as private school or homeschool, they always have access to a free education in the public schools. Parents have a legal requirement to provide education, either in the public schools or by another venue for their children.

But no one is required by law to send their children to exclusive private schools.

Ditto for food, shelter and clothing. Children must have a decent place to live, food and clothing. If parents can’t provide these things, there are programs to help them. If they won’t provide them, children can and sometimes are removed from the home. However, there is a strong bias under the law to reunite families as well as many helps for parents in putting together a home for their children. At no time is anyone required by law to provide designer clothes, lavish houses, or gourmet food for their children.

You can watch a brief video from the hearing on this case by going here. The discussion between the judge and Ms Canning’s attorney is all about the way Ms Canning and her parents speak to one another in emails and texts. That may be appalling to hear, but I don’t think it’s pertinent. The issue to me is clear-cut. This is an adult, suing other adults for support. Is there any legitimate basis for that suit?

Based on my understanding, I don’t think so. Maybe New Jersey law is different. Otherwise, I don’t see a case here.

However, the question of what kind of home life, social climate and child-rearing techniques produce a situation like this is wide open. The private high school Ms Canning attends is a Catholic school. She claims in court records that the family income is in excess of $300,000 per year. It would be interesting to learn what sort of social/family environment created this young lady.

From CNN:

(CNN) – A high school senior’s lawsuit against her mother and father for financial support and college tuition hit a hurdle Tuesday when a New Jersey judge denied the teenager’s request for immediate financial assistance from the parents.

Rachel Canning, 18, alleges in her lawsuit that her parents forced her out of their Lincoln Park, New Jersey home, and that she is unable to support herself financially. The lawsuit asks that her parents pay the remaining tuition for her last semester at her private high school, pay her current living and transportation expenses, commit to paying her college tuition and pay her legal fees for the suit she filed against her parents.

Her parents say she left home because she didn’t want to obey their rules.

…  Canning, an honor student and cheerleader at Morris Catholic High School in Denville, says in court documents she had to leave her parents’ home because of emotional and psychological mistreatment, alleging, among other things, that her mother called her “fat” and “porky” and that her father threatened to beat her.

“I have been subjected to severe verbal and physical abuse by my mother and father,” Canning wrote in a court certification. “I am not willingly and voluntarily leaving a reasonable situation at home to make my own decisions. I had to leave to end the abuse.”

Canning left her parents’ home at the end of last October. After spending two nights at her boyfriend’s home, she moved into the home of her friend in a nearby town, where she has been staying ever since, according to court documents written by the parents’ attorney.

… Canning was suspended from school for truancy last October, according to court documents filed by her parents’ attorney, Laurie Rush-Masuret. Her parents told the teen that she could no longer see her boyfriend, who was also suspended from school. Car and phone privileges were also taken away. Once she learned of the punishment, Canning cut school again and then decided to run away, her father said in court documents.

Once she left home, her parents notified Morris Catholic High School that they would no longer pay for their daughter’s tuition, the documents state.

“They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me, and have redirected my college fund indicating their refusal to afford me an education,” Rachel Canning stated in court documents.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X