Via Media

Via Media


posted by awelborn

Religion and teens

Here’s a crazy idea: After all our ambitious child-rearing with Discovery toys, Suzuki piano lessons, conflict-avoidance classes, 4 a.m. swim practices, SAT prep classes, driver education and summer flights to study folk music in the Republic of Georgia, we might have done as well (and saved a lot of money) by just sending our kids to church, temple or mosque.

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Gerard E.

posted March 21, 2004 at 1:21 pm

So the family that prays together REALLY stays together…..Or was that just pre-Vatican II

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James Freeman

posted March 21, 2004 at 3:46 pm

Now it’s time for the Relative Interest Scoreboard, brought to you by HolyJoes — the cereal Catholics would rather bitch and fight over rather than eat!
In a final just in, we have Good Catholic topping Bad Catholic 47-38 . . . looks like that one was a real catfight. I think we can look forward to lots more spirited battles between the Rad Trads and everybody else over who’s to blame for us not believing in any of this s*** anymore.
And in other scores . . . well, here’s an interesting development . . . the contest scheduled for today at Yup has been canceled due to lack of interest.
I guess, folks, we have our answer about why the next generation won’t believe in any of this s*** either. Well be back with more scores from across the Church and across the country after this word from HolyJoes!

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Dust in the Light

posted March 21, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Culture War from the Inside Out

On the very same day that a Seattle-area United Methodist church steps onto what may prove to be the path to internal discord that the U.S. Episcopal Church has blazed, the Washington Post profiles another congregation of the same Church…

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posted March 21, 2004 at 7:46 pm

“…looks like that one was a real catfight.”
The more things change, the more they….

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Rod Dreher

posted March 21, 2004 at 7:53 pm

Point taken, but to be fair James, you have to have read this long piece in order to comment on it, which might be keeping the numbers down (as opposed to the “Good Catholic/Bad Catholic” thread, which only required you to have read Amy’s comment. And for folks like me, parents whose kids are years away from the teen years, probably haven’t begun to consider this issue.
The thing that struck me most about the article was the girl in the last couple of grafs saying that she’d considered Judaism and Christianity, but was close to accepting Wicca, because it worked for her. That says to me that while the hunger for God is palpable among today’s teens, it may be the case that they believe it can be satisfied with anything god-like. This could be a po-mo repackaging of Eisenhower’s (in)famous line about American religion, in which he declared that we all believe in God, though we don’t agree on who God is. I wish I could remember his exact statement, because it was an endorsement of civil religiosity — the idea that it doesn’t matter what God you believe in, as long as you believe in God.
Well, when the menu was as limited as it was in the 1950s, that might have been defensible from a Christian point of view. But if it’s only important to affirm the Divine and to establish some sort of relationship with It, and if we now live in a culture in which to make judgments about religion is considered taboo, then how do you tell the budding Wiccan that she will poison herself if she chooses to approach “God” that way?
Similarly, there’s the Methodist girl in that story who argued for gay marriage. It didn’t seem to her that there was anything wrong with it. What was interesting about that little bit was that it never seemed to have occurred to her to grapple with what Scripture says, and what her faith tradition teaches. She just decided that she’s right, and I bet you she’s decided nobody has the right to tell her she’s a good or a bad Methodist for having made the choice she made.
All I’m saying is that it’s not unqualified good news that teens are more open to religion. It all depends on what kind of religion they are adopting and/or willing to adopt, and are being presented with. Which gets us back, in a Catholic context, to the themes being discussed in “Good Catholic/Bad Catholic”…

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James Freeman

posted March 22, 2004 at 1:17 am

Which is the point, exactly. It seems to me — as someone who has volunteered in youth ministry for nine years now — that Catholics who actually can manage to remain sentient when the topic of faith is raised have plenty of energy to cut one another to ribbons but none left over to preach the gospel to our children.
And rest assured that EVERY Catholic child is “our children.”
Likewise, it also appears to me, as someone deep in the trenches, that the Catholics who care the least about supporting OUR CHILDREN in the Catholic faith are those who make the biggest public show of their “orthodox” Catholic faith. And believe me, OUR CHILDREN need all the help they can get from every one of our parishes.
Unfortunately, the cathedral parish of my archdiocese has the motivation to start capital campaigns for a parish “welcome center” and a multimillion-dollar plaza but not so much for youth ministry. And at my parish — one of the largest in the archdiocese — after a round of budget cutting, we’re just glad the youth-ministry budget was cut by a third (from a level that already was in the low four figures) and the youth minister spared.
This . . . THIS as we deal with a generation that’s been just as poorly catechized as X-ers and Boomers, but trying to navigate a world far more treacherous (and far more hostile to traditional religious faith) than the one I grew up in during the 1960s and ’70s (I turn 43 on Wednesday).
Would you like to be 15 or 16 today? The very thought makes me instinctively head for the Depends aisle.
Yet it seems that the Catholic chattering classes in the blogosphere and elsewhere have plenty of time to joust over who lost Vatican II as their offspring are offered up at the altar of Abercrombie & Fitch.
Meanwhile, I want at least five people from the “Good Catholic/Bad Catholic” free-for-all to post here what they think a “rainbow party” is.
I’ll bet there’s not five who can. But their eighth graders probably could in a heartbeat.

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posted March 22, 2004 at 7:55 am

Peace, all.
Guess the most common factor for keeping Catholics involved?
Not catechesis.
Not knowledge of the Catholic faith.
Not even Catholic schools. (Studies affirm that for teens there is no discerniable difference for kids who have been parochial school-educated or RE-educated.)
Going to Sunday Mass as a family. Which should be a minimum.
One possible defect in the current apologetics movement is to pin hope on intellect. Intellect alone is insufficient for faith. But prayer — prayer of all kinds with one’s children, especially Mass, is the one item that will get any Catholic the most mileage.
One of the great fruits of Vatican II: the realization (even if largely unpracticed) of the centrality of prayer and liturgy over didactic education as the single most successful way of integrating the young into the life of faith.

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Donald R. McClarey

posted March 22, 2004 at 8:50 am

I teach Church History to juniors in our parish’s CCD program each year. The good news is that most of the kids are moved when I tell them about, for example, Maximilian Kolbe. The bad news is that the ignorance of the kids about the most elementry facts about the Church cannot be overestimated. They are a tabula rasa waiting for someone to write on them. If the Church doesn’t do it, there are plenty of others who will be happy to.

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posted March 22, 2004 at 10:18 am

Rod –
Is the Eisenhower quote you want something like: “I don’t care what a man believes in, as long as he believes in something.”?

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posted March 22, 2004 at 10:38 am

Perhaps if you spent less time volunteering in “youth ministry” and worrying about fundraising, you would have time to actually visit a traditionalist chapel and meet some large Catholic families, who don’t outsource their kids to be raised by those on the archdiocesan payroll. Seeing that, maybe you would realize why traditionalist Catholics aren’t especially interested in commenting on the linked article. Amy’s headline “Yup” pretty much sums up what needs to be said.

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posted March 22, 2004 at 10:39 am

Of course going to Mass as a family (if the entire family is Catholic) is paramount, it’s a mortal sin to miss Mass. But the catechisis in most parishes/schools in my area is abysmal. The materials used are woefully inadequate (Bishop Hughes was scathing in his remarks about catechismal materials) and because of the woefully inadequate materials used, kids don’t see and don’t understand either the Mass or why we go to the Mass. Sure, some parents teach at home but we are a parents voice alone – no backup from the parishes or the schools.
Some very successful parishes (very successful meaning keeping kids and parents after Confirmation is done) are starting to involve parents in the CCD programs – having parents attend with their kids – no drop offs and pick ups allowed. Those parishes are using materials fully faithful to the Magisterium (no partial truths or watering down allowed) and this has spawned adult catechism classes because the parents realize how badly they themselves are catechized and they want to know more.
Kids are so open to something larger than themselves (as evidenced by this article and as evidenced by having exposure to many teens) – teach them who He is – and He is not a social worker! Works are not faith. Pizza parties are not faith.

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James Freeman

posted March 22, 2004 at 11:26 am

Have a nice life in Catholic Fantasyland whilst you consider the parable of the sheep and the goats.
Now get away from me.

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James Freeman

posted March 22, 2004 at 12:03 pm

I’m getting the impression that folks are thinking that youth ministry is either a) all pizza parties all the time or b) dry catechesis.
Primarily, it is a ministry of presence — showing kids that we’re there, we love them and we want them to be active, responsible members of the Church . . . right now.
Then after that, there are the crucial elements of teaching, prayer and fellowship.
At our youth group, we start after 5:30 Mass on Sunday evening with a communal meal prepared by parents or other parish volunteers. Then we have about 90 minutes of instruction/presentation and discussion or, alternatively, an occasional game night.
And we always end with prayer, often in the sanctuary or the Eucharistic chapel.
Youth group is open to all teens, and we have some kids who bring their Protestant or unchurched friends.
Finally, no, works are not faith. But faith without works . . . .
Here are the money verses from the second chapter of James:
2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as being to be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy. And mercy exalteth itself above judgment.
14 What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?
15 And if a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food:
16 And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?
17 So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.
18 But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith.
19 Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou, that faith did co-operate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God.
24 Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?
25 And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, receiving the messengers, and sending them out another way?
26 For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.

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posted March 22, 2004 at 1:04 pm

Actually, James, I wasn’t really addressing you. I have no idea what your parish’s youth ministry is like. Like all of us, I only know what it is like in my own parish and that of the parishes around me.
What would be telling is if you gave your youth group kids a short and basic questionnaire on Catholicism which included something like this. That way, you could find out whether the kids are Catholics attending a Catholic youth group or kids attending a youth group in order to have something to do on a Friday night (plus see if your parish CCD classes are doing the job CCD classes are intended to do).
Faith without works is indeed dead, but works spring from faith and not the other way around. To me, a youth group can be, in some parishes, almost a duplication of fellowship groups found in non-Catholic parishes or in public schools. And how can one evangelize or be active members of the Church without really knowing why they are Catholics? These kids, like all of us, are searching for Truth and they are very susceptible to the messages of the secular world, especially without a firm foundation from their parish – priests, parents and any adult involved in youth ministry.
I’d be interested in knowing if your parish has a youth Mass. I am rather divided on those having been to a few in the past.

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posted March 22, 2004 at 3:20 pm

Colleen — Bill’s gonna be disappointed with your list of test questions. I am sure he is going line by line to find:
a) girls shall never appear on the Altar;
b) Holy Communion shall never NEVER be taken in the hand
c) Communion should never be taken via the Holy Chalice
d) Mass for Good Catholics will only be celebrated in Latin
e) It is better to say your Rosary than attend Mass at a Non Traditional parish

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Rod Dreher

posted March 22, 2004 at 5:27 pm

James: Unfortunately, the cathedral parish of my archdiocese has the motivation to start capital campaigns for a parish “welcome center” and a multimillion-dollar plaza but not so much for youth ministry.
“Youth ministry” in today’s RC Church largely involves paying settlements to erstwhile children interfered with by priests.

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