Thursday, February 27, 2014

Passing It On - 7 Posts in 7 Days: Day 4

I'm participating in the 7 Posts in 7 Days link-up at Conversion Diary, and this is my post for Day 4.  Go here to read the posts from the other bloggers in the link-up.  And go here to find a list of all 7 of my posts for this round of the link-up.

At the request of one of my parish's catechists, last night I gave a tour of the Church to the high school RCIC class.  (FYI: RCIC is the Right of Christian Initiation of Children.  It's RCIA for people between 7 years old and 17 years old).  This group consisted of 11 young people aged 13 - 17, all preparing to be baptized and join the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass.  I was a little concerned about how things would go, since I had originally prepared this talk for the RCIA class, which is filled with adults who usually ask lots of really good questions.  Thankfully, things turned out really well.  The kids were really receptive, asked good questions, and (mostly) didn't look like they would rather be getting a cavity filled than be in that church listening to me talk.

Looking at all of those high-schoolers taking a class to learn what they need to know to come into the Catholic Church made me think about all the people who have left the Catholic Church.  This is something that makes me extremely sad.  It also makes me frustrated and angry.  I realize people that leave Catholicism do so for any one of a number of reasons: indifference, disagreement, disappointment, frustration, lack of connection, injury, and so on.  But it seems to me that the main, underlying reason people leave the Catholic Church is that they don't understand what the Church is, what it really teaches, why it has authority, and what they are giving up if they leave.


Let's face it.  Despite the truly heroic efforts of a lot of volunteer catechists, for the most part, the catechizing of our kids stinks.  I mean, really, how much can someone learn about their faith in one hour a week, for 26 weeks a year?  Especially when a.) society is feeding them a worldview and morality in opposition to a Catholic understanding of the world and morality; b.) most parents aren't following up with teaching their kids about their faith at home (probably because most of them have been so poorly catechized as well); and c.) the kids don't really want to be there in the first place.  Talk about fighting an uphill battle!

Something needs to change.  Actually, lots of things need to change.  One of the foremost is making sure we teach our kids how to develop a real relationship with the Holy Trinity.  I've heard a bunch of Catholic speakers/bloggers/etc mention this same thing, and I couldn't agree more: we have to evangelize as well as catechize.  I'm a perfect example of this:  I went to a Catholic school from K-8th, had religion class every day for years, and yet I never, after all of that, realized that I'm supposed to have a relationship with God.  I mean, seriously, I never cottoned on to this until I was an adult.  I may have just not been paying attention, but I'm guessing that's not the main problem.  The main problem was that they may have spent time teaching me the facts of the faith, but not the WHYS and the WHAT-FORS.  Maybe, if I had been helped to develop a relationship with God at a young age, I would have had more motivation to learn the facts of my faith and implement my faith into my daily life, because I would have been doing it FOR SOMEONE I LOVE.

Maybe, if the Catholic Church would focus more on the relationship aspect, there would be far fewer people leaving the Church because they "just didn't feel God's presence at Mass."  

Maybe, if more young Catholics develop a relationship with Jesus through living their Catholic faith, they would be more motivated to actually learn all the facts and actual teachings of the Catholic faith.  I firmly believe that most people that leave the Church because they "don't agree with Catholic teachings", don't actually have an accurate understanding of what she teaches, and more importantly, WHY she teaches what she does, or WHERE she gets the authority to teach what she does.  Relationship = increased motivation to learn = fewer people leaving the church due to ignorance and misunderstanding.

It seems like such a huge project.  Overwhelming.  So many people who are much more intelligent and educated than I am have been addressing this for a while, and yet it doesn't seem like a whole lot of progress has been made.  Maybe it has and I just don't see it personally.  Maybe I'm just talking out of frustration, because I don't know where or how to help.  I just know that I want to help, because I'm so sad, and angry, and frustrated, and tired of seeing people leave the Church, and wondering if God will be able to bring them back home again.


7 comments:

  1. Another fall-out is that non-Catholics (such as myself) were given false information by those who left Catholicism and didn't know what they were leaving. You weren't the only one who didn't realize that you needed a personal relationship with God. Little wonder that when they came to evangelical churches that talk about that ad nauseum they were so relieved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, that is another major problem. Unfortunately, ignorance can only breed more ignorance, and then everyone suffers from the lack of truth. This emphasis of relationship with God is definitely something that the Catholic Church needs to improve on, in my opinion.

      Delete
  2. Also another thing I don't understand which perhaps you can explain to me Casey - why does this happen? I mean, priests have homilies every Sunday in which to emphasize a relationship with God. Do Catholic churches not do Sunday school, youth group, etc? (Not trying to be judgmental, just really curious. In most Protestant churches you can't help but know what they teach).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I've noticed that, for Protestants, it seems like one of the main criteria for being a pastor is being a good preacher. This is especially so for the non-liturgical denominations, since the preaching is almost the main focus of the service. For Catholics, the main focus of Mass is the Eucharist, not the homily after the Gospel reading. So, even though priests take homiletics courses in seminary, there are a great many of them who have no real gift for preaching. So they just stick with basic explanations of the OT/Epistle/Gospel reading of the day, and these often turn out to be fairly bland. The priests who say daily Mass on EWTN usually give really fantastic, in-depth, instructional homilies; I wish I heard homilies like that more often in Sunday Masses. I think the seminaries are starting to improve homiletics instruction (or at least, I hope they are!).

      For Catholics, Sunday School is just for the kids. There is no expectation for adults to continue in regular religious instruction (oh, how I wish there were; that would be such an awesome thing because so many of the adults are so poorly catechized and evangelized). There are junior high and high school youth groups, and some programs are pretty good, but so many kids are really checking out by that age. They're only there because their parents make them. Likewise, if they had really poor formation at an earlier age, there's not much to build later on.

      Delete
    2. This is interesting to read. They say that Episcopalians are mid-way between Protestants and Catholics, and that's true in some very odd ways. For instance, when I first started going to Episcopal churches I was very frustrated with the "bland" sermons I often heard. I have heard amazing sermons by Episcopal priests, but not nearly as often as I would like :) But as you said, if the emphasis is on the Eucharist and the sermon/ homily isn't the focal point, then it makes sense that some priests wouldn't be very skilled. (I could go on about this all day but I'll stop - it's kind of a sore spot for me).

      Episcopal churches do some form of adult Sunday school, though they usually call it "adult forum" or something, but it's not emphasized as much as it was in my evangelical days. One reason why I go to the church I do is that it really emphasizes adult formation and teaching. One program I've heard good things about for little kids is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd which my church does - is it a Catholic program? I've heard some Catholics churches use it too.

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure if the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Catholic program, but you're right, it is in use in some Catholic parishes and by some homeschoolers as well, I believe.

      I know there are some Catholic parishes that have some good adult programs, and there are a few good Bible studies that are making the rounds (like Jeff Cavins' Great Adventure Bible Study series). But there doesn't seem to be any widespread understanding of the need to continue to be formed in faith through adulthood. Most people seem to think that once you get confirmed at 14, you know all you need to know. (I used to think that myself. I'm just grateful I finally realized otherwise!) There are programs that some parishes try to get started, but often very little participation by adult parishioners. Gah! Very frustrating.

      Hey, thanks for the great and thoughtful comments. It's fun to have these kinds of conversations and hear different perspectives.

      Delete
  3. Gambling games suitable for gamblers of all ages.

    G club The casino will provide casino gaming investors with a full gamble. Played very well Gambling is live from the real casino. Bring it to everyone to play it realistically. There are many investments. Make huge profits. Where is the best place to play gambling? New bets. Have fun at any time like. Gamblers to help players find the casino game is number one. Bet on Wherever You Are It is ready to play bets that anyone can play well.

    In addition, the gambler to enter the casino gambling games online at our website. In addition, the gambler will invest your favorite gambler. The gambler will also receive a lot of promotions that we have been held for investors to get here. Investors who are interested in subscribing to our website, then the gambler is able to invest in our online gambling services here, the player will not be disappointed in this game. The player will be able to play easily with our online casino games. The gambler will not be disappointed by the luck we have to open it for you. Gclub มือถือ

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear what you have to say. Charitable, civil comments only, please!

Also, I am temporarily disabling anonymous commenting, due to a sudden flood of spambot comments on my site. Thanks for understanding!