Best story from the LA Congress

Best story from the LA Congress March 17, 2014

A reader writes:

My son John Paul was required to go.  He was torn, but missing school made up for a lot.  Overall, his comment was “super lame”.  But the guys carrying the “hug me” signs provided an outlet.  He made them hug him for twice as long as they were actually willing to, and so felt that he had wreaked his revenge.  His cousin took pictures.

I am instantly reminded of this:

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  • Meggan

    I went to L A Congress. Saw Fr. Robert Barron who told us, in addition to many great things, that Vatican Ii had been badly implemented and badly interpreted by folks who reduced religious education into “banners and balloons.” He also pounded the podium and told us that we should be giving our kids Augustine, Chesterton, etc. I also saw John Allen who talked great sense about Pope Francis (and Pope Benedict). I also went to a Byzantine Divine Liturgy. So, while there were some goofy things at the Congress, it wasn’t all bad. The main thing that made me cringe were the liturgical dancers. (NOT at the Byzantine Liurgy, by the way). The rest of what I attended was fine. Of course, I purposefully stayed away from the more goofy sounding things on the ahenda.

    • RPlavo .

      Religious education is the elephant in the room…..we try to do too much and wind up doing very little….why hasn’t lectionary-based catechesis caught on?

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        Was he surrounded by banners and balloons at the time? ‘Cause that would’ve been awesome.
        I have been an active member of 2 parishes since becoming Catholic over 10 years ago. Both parishes have good priests, and both parishes have EXTREMELY lacking religious education courses, for both kids and RCIA. Why? Because they leave it all up to the laity. Well meaning as many of them area, very often they just don’t have the training or education for proper religious education.
        So when I was in RCIA, we had our leader tell us that it was great we wanted to become Catholic, but all religions were basically the same and equally good, so it didn’t really matter.
        At our current parish, the youth ministers are very nice people who mean well. But most youth programs boil down to a 15 minute talk on what a friend we have in Jesus, followed by 30 minutes of group discussion and sharing our feelings, then 45 minutes of games or movies. I think they’re honestly trying. They just aren’t equipped for the job handed to them.
        We get more out of watching Father Barron on youtube for 10 minutes than we do in a 2 hour religious education class.

        • I’ve been working in parish education for the last few years. It’s more complicated than this. We’ve been trying to teach kids, but they have no freaking clue what we’re talking about. We might as well be speaking Farsi to most of them. It’s like trying to teach high school physics to kids who don’t know what gravity is and can’t do math.

          All the theology and everything goes in one ear and out the other because nobody practices this stuff at home. They’re living standard American lives in their American public schools, they and their parents only sometimes go to mass, and they have zilch – zero – in the way of contact with Christ otherwise. They don’t pray at home. They only barely pray in church or in our classes. They just don’t have the data which religious ed is supposed to form and organize.

          My partner and I were all gung-ho about giving them solid, basic theology and good teaching on the Faith, morals, the liturgy, etc, etc. It was a gigantic failure, since the students aren’t in any significant way living Christian lives.

          • Have you read “Forming Intentional Disciples” by Sherry Weddell? It doesn’t directly address the question of catechizing youth, but does very persuasively point out that it’s nearly useless to catechize (adults or children) those who have not yet been evangelized. And many many many of the good people showing up for Mass on Sundays and helping out in assorted ministries have not yet been genuinely evangelized. Our good host kept recommending the book so much I broke down and bought it. Can’t say enough good things about it.

            • Ha! Yes, we’re reading it as a parish staff. I agree: it’s quite good.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            My favorite part of teaching CCD was the parents storming in to breathe fire and brimstone at us after we told the Confirmation class that, yes, missing mass is a serious sin. How dare we judge them!

            • Marthe Lépine

              On the other hand, I have been faithfully going to Mass on Sundays, and once in a while to a weekly Mass (not often enough, I know). Sunday just would not be Sunday without the Mass, but… I never even knew that missing Mass was a serious sin until my mid-60’s! I guess I can be very thankful to my parents for the example they gave me (and the religious education I received, since I was also home-schooled until high-school).

              • Rebecca Fuentes

                I knew it was a sin, but didn’t realize it was serious until after college sometime. I don’t blame the parents for not knowing, but they don’t need to get angry at the teachers when their children get real, Catholic teaching and it happens to embarrass them. We never singled out anyone or their parents, we just happened to cover venial and mortal sins and it came up in the discussion. A few days later, oh, we were in trouble.

          • Alma Peregrina

            As someone who also ventured into kids’ catechesis with a pretty average theological luggage, I can second everything Jon W said.

        • Meggan

          Yes, we were sitting in an arena that was filled with banners. No balloons, though. I really chuckled when he said that. Lol.

      • Amy

        Because lectionary-based catechesis is grossly inadequate for ordering and carrying out primary catechesis?

        • RPlavo .

          I hope not; I haven’t experienced it; I’m not saying it is inadequate; any “single” approach is inadequate; all have to be enhanced and built upon; certainly the Baltimore Catechism was inadequate; it never got into Scripture

          • Amy

            I’m saying that it is horribly inadequate. It does not offer a systematic or organic presentation of the faith, leaving students with “a big heap of Catholicism” or the impression that the teachings of the Church are only loosely related.. Important feasts (and accompanying readings) like Pentecost and Corpus Christi invariably land outside of the school year so Eucharist gets kind of shoehorned into a reading that doesn’t actually address it and the events of Pentecost is overlooked entirely. The 10 Commandments are only in the readings on the Easter Vigil (not that helpful). The first couple of weeks of class often end up being on marriage or something like that, which is a horrible place to start, especially with children that are largely unevangelized.

            As a method of secondary catechesis (for those already catechized or to do as a family in addition to primary catechesis), it can be great. But ordering our classes according to whatever happens to be the reading that Sunday does not do justice to the faith.

            • Rebecca Fuentes

              I occurs to me that, at the high school level at least, the kids don’t just need a good solid grounding in the teachings of the faith, they need church history too.

              • Oh gosh, yes. Basic catechism + church history + good grasp of Sacred Scripture + some survey of the writings of the saints and great spiritual writers + LOGIC. Phew. I’m not kidding, either but I have no idea how such a thing would happen in a mainstream high school class or youth group.

                • Rebecca Fuentes

                  It needs more involvement and effort from parents. It’s not going to happen without them. On the flip side, the parents need support and direction from the Church. In my generation, at least, a lot of us had poor or incomplete catechisis ourselves.

            • RPlavo .


    • anna lisa

      I’m so happy to hear about the good stuff. Thanks. 14-year-old boys often feel that it is their duty to say “super lame” about almost everything,–including their parents…especially if video games and homework are involved. I refuse to be discouraged–and Archbishop Gomez is a real blessing! How great that you got to hear Fr. Barron and John Allen. Good things are happening.

  • Francisco J Castellanos

    You-are-kidding-me. “Hug me” signs at a Catholic event?? God bless California. For the sake of inclusiveness they should have available optional “don’t you dare touch me” name tags for the participants.

  • Jonna

    I’ve always thought that the liturgically fussy had some sort of spiritual Asperger syndrome, which makes real contact painful, thus the need to hide behind lots of words and theory. I guess a simple human gesture like being hugged would be difficult. The Bill Murray clip is hilarious and quite apt.