Catechisms Cannot Teach Your Children to Love God

All parents have the primary responsibility to educate their children. This is a duty that parents cannot in good conscience shirk off or place on others. They are obliged to find a good school for their children or educate them at home. For Catholics the duty of education especially includes teaching their children the precepts of the Catholic faith and showing them how to live as faithful Christians. But religious education from a textbook, as it has been traditionally done, has a danger of becoming either completely shallow and soppy, or at the other extreme of becoming entirely cerebral. A true religious education is that of the whole person — the heart, mind, soul, strength, and even the body — but primarily the heart.

Yet, how does one go about educating their children in the faith?

The easy answer is to send them to a Catholic school where they will have religion or catechism class, sign them up for CCD if they go to a non-Catholic school, or teach them their catechism at home from a curriculum. These days there are a wide variety of books for educating our children in faith.

Still, studies show that young Catholics are leaving the Church as teenagers. A diocese I worked for had a problem of families coming to Mass only on the Sundays when their religious education program required it for their children to receive the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. And the one hour per week that catechists spent with the children was spent reading a religious text that neither delved into actually explaining the faith nor taught them how to talk to God in prayer. Everything was superficial. My husband, who teaches philosophy at a university in the Catholic tradition, has had students who were raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, but who never learned that one could use reason to come to the knowledge of God’s existence. Sadly, this poor state of catechesis is one that the Church has been striving to remedy for decades.

As a parent who is raising children in the Catholic faith and as one raised in a family where all four children are devout, practicing Catholics as adults, I hold that learning one’s catechism from a book or going through an unsystematic, light religious textbook is not enough. My experience in home schooling shows me that children need more.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register.

#SackClothandAshes: Acts of Reparation in the Face of Scandal

 

When Kendra and Bonnie invited me to join their time of fasting and prayer, I had to say Yes. All of this suffering (and not being able to eat anything good because of my Lyme/Candida diet) can be for something good. I can unite my sufferings with Christ for the sake of healing in our suffering Church. And YOU CAN, TOO.

Please consider joining in from August 22 on the Feast of the Queenship of Our Lady through the month of September. I think the images explain it all:

 

 

 

NCRegister: Chastity, for Each and All, is Central to the Life of Holiness

I know I am not alone in my sorrow over the reports of sexual immorality among the clergy of the Church from the scandals of abusive priests of the early 2000s to the more recent revelations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s notorious predatory behavior, the letter of the Honduran seminarians about homosexual activity in their seminary, the stifled report of priestly abuse in Pennsylvania, and so on. The actions of abuse of children and clergy using their power to intimidate those below them into sinful actions and to covering up immoral acts are sins that cry out to heaven for justice.
The words of Jeremiah to the unfaithful Israelites in the readings recently ring true to us today:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ […] ‘Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Ba’al, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’ — only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 7: 3-4, 8-11)

Clergy and lay people in the Church have covered up these sins for too long. One of the many things that need to be improved is the understanding of the virtue of chastity as central to a life of holiness. I think it is not too much to expect that ordained clergy actively seek holiness, and along with holiness comes the formation of all the virtues. We are all called to live chastity; but it looks different in different states in life.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

NCRegister Blog: Catholic Women Want Community (Even in a Blizzard)

Two of my friends and I set out one blustery Friday April afternoon from St. Paul, Minnesota for Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We were excited to spend a weekend together at the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls women’s conference despite the forecast a blizzard sweeping through the upper Midwest. We managed to make it to our hotel a couple of hours before snow began to fall, but when we woke up on Saturday morning the blizzard had arrived in full force. It took until the end of my sixth winter living in Minnesota to see my first real blizzard, and I ended up being in South Dakota for it. Perhaps the flatness of the prairie intensified the winds, but I heard that the Twin Cities looked about the same as Sioux Falls.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

NCRegister Blog: Pray For Your Priests, for They Exercise Christ’s Sacred Power

It is that time of year again—when the new priests have been ordained and the reassignments from the bishops are out and implemented. When I first heard that the beloved pastor at my mother’s parish was being transferred I wondered how she would take the news. I knew that she would experience sorrow, but I also knew that she would be one of the first to reach out to the new pastor of her parish with prayers and any support she could offer. She would still attend the daily Mass, receive the Sacraments from her pastor in persona Christi, be available to pray during adoration hours, and have him over for dinner. She would adjust to him as her new pastor, and I am sure that she already has, because my mother deeply appreciates all priests.

The parochial vicar at our parish was also transferred to another parish after only one year with us. We had already grown to appreciate the depth of his homilies, which called us on to live our Christian lives more intensely. We had become friends with him through several meals, and now we will no longer receive Jesus from his hands weekly. In some ways it is an occasion of sorrow, but in other ways it is a realization that experiencing Christ in the sacraments is so much more than which priest is ministering to us. It is the same Christ giving us grace, whether it be through the words and hands of Fr. Jaspers or Fr. Schroeder.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Christ Did Not Say this Call was Easy…(BIS and NCRegister Posts)

Today is my devotion day over at Blessed is She. When I wrote this devotion about making sacrifices and the challenge of living out the Gospel in our daily lives, I did not know that would have also written about a very challenging application of it in loving our enemy and those in need at the Register this week.

I am seeing that what it comes down to is radical love and a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Here are the posts and links to them:
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The Temple of God

Every moment of even the slightest suffering that we bear, we can unite to His One Sacrifice. We can choose in our daily lives to habitually participate in Christ’s One Sacrifice, and through His suffering our suffering can bring grace into our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray. For we are temples of God, and as temples, we are a place of sacrifice.

In the Gospel today Christ asks of us some very hard things: turn the other cheek, give away your cloak, go the extra mile, give to the one who asks of you, and love your enemies. These decisions are sacrifices. These choices unite us to Christ…
https://blessedisshe.net/the-temple-of-god/?mc_cid=8f13b8ffd9&mc_eid=e8f0452374&v=7516fd43adaa

I think about the kind of nation I would want my children to live in, and while I would love for them to have peace and prosperity, I worry more about their immortal souls than whether or not they will be persecuted. I know that they will be. There is no denying that. Christ told us so: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Christian has always been persecuted. The model of radical love is one that I want them to follow rather than that of cowering in fear behind the secure borders of our country.

It is time to overcome our fears and meet those different from us with radical charity, so that we might hope to be among the righteous.

Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’
And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.‘ (Matthew 25:37-40)

NCRegister: Taking Care of My Little Sin

Living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, and year out…Always the same, like an idiot child carefully nursed, guarded from the world. ‘Poor Julia,’ they say, ‘she can’t go out. She’s got to take care of her little sin. A pity it ever lived. (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, Book II, Chapter 3)

I was recently asked by a secular publication about my thoughts on Pope Francis extending the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion indefinitely to all priests (who have the faculties to hear confessions). What struck me as I read his Apostolic Letter from the end of the Year of Mercy was how the women he presented from Scripture were all living sinful lives, but also how Christ extended mercy to all of these women. The women caught in adultery has always been a penetrating example for me of his great mercy and my inability to judge others, for how can I claim to be without sin and cast the first stone? Yet, he who is without sin will not cast one at the sorrowful women.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

NCRegister Blog: Love of Neighbor, Like Zeal for Our Tradition, Should Burn Hot in Our Hearts

Rigidity. Pope Francis seems to talk about that a lot. And the instance that struck home for me most recently was from a recently released interview he gave in 2007 in which he spoke of the rigidity of young traditionalists. I am a recovering rigid traditionalist. Before that I was a rigid charismatic. I have experienced firsthand what is it like to be rigid, standing in cold judgment of a perceived wrong way of doing things, and I have encountered firsthand what is it like to be snubbed by the rigid, seeking to be understood and finding no sympathy.

Read the rest at the NCRegister…

At the NCRegister Blog: How I Learned to Stop Nitpicking at Mass


The summer we moved to St. Paul we were very eager to attend Holy Mass at St. Agnes. In addition to Sunday Masses, we went almost every day to the daily Mass in the lower chapel. At those daily Masses, for the first time since I had fallen in love with the Church’s liturgical traditions did the OF seem like it followed from those traditions. We had been daily Mass attendees at many other OF Masses, but this one was different.

At the NCRegister Blog: The Church, Not the CDC, Has Empowered me as a Young Woman

I am honored, humbled, and pleased to share that I will be blogging a few times a month over at the National Catholic Register.

Click through to read the whole of my first article for the Blogs:

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The CDC recently released new guidelines for women of childbearing ages: if you are going to be drinking, you better be using contraception. Their concern is with fetal alcohol syndrome, which is a legitimate concern, but their solution to preventing it does not respect women at all. They seem to think that young women are ignorant, helpless creatures who cannot make good decisions without the government to help them along.

They go on to recommend that health providers tell women to stop drinking if they are not using some form of contraception to prevent pregnancy. Women are going to have to face even more pressure to use contraception. And further those who follow Church teaching and do not use contraception are going to be pressured to not drink alcohol at all, ever.

This new recommendation by the CDC has a glaring truth to it that the Church has always embraced: a new human life is one of the ends of the sexual act.