Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 1 May 2009

"Institutional" Blogs

There seem to be more and more of them now, from organizations that pre-existed their blogs as credible news, news-gathering entities.
I'm glad because I am hoping that making them daily reads to get quick overviews, frequent updates, etc., will prove less of a timesuck than the idiosyncratic personal ones do. (Yes, I expect the universe to help me with my time-management and focus issues.... doesn't it all revolve around me?)

"Our Sunday Visitor" has one, The Daily Take.
I didn't know abut OSV until I moved here, the diocesan news organ in my birth diocese had some other name.
I was confused for several years by people where I live now, talking about the "visitor," it took me a while to catch on that until recently theirs had indeed been published under that name. (This is the kind of town where people will, in conversation with new-comers, identify a woman married in 1930 by her maiden name, and give directions to strangers with such precise phrases such as, "the boulevard.")

Anyway, this caught my eye at the Daily Take:
My 8-year-old daughter....
told me that one of her friends, another child in her third-grade Catholic school class, whom we will call X, told her and some other children that X's family does not believe that Communion is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I could feel myself tensing up as I tried to respond in a charitable yet clear way. Then my daughter said that this isn't the first time her friend has tried to pound home this alternative view on Catholic teaching. I told Olivia that the next time this happens she needs to tell X that if you don't believe in the Eucharist, you aren't a Catholic. Harsh? Perhaps. True? Absolutely. I tried to explain to Olivia that people can disagree with the Church on some things, but that you cannot disagree with the Church on Eucharist and still call yourself a Catholic.

A new Pew Forum study on Religion & Public Life shows that roughly two-thirds of Americans who claim "no affiliation" with a church were raised Catholic or Protestant and have changed faiths twice. The study also found that Mass attendance was a "powerful predictor" of whether a child would remain Catholic as an adult. Among the lifelong Catholics surveyed, 69 percent of those who regularly attended Mass as a teen remained Catholic, while only 44 percent of those who are now "unaffiliated" attended Mass regularly.

The big news, however, is that Catholic education, which included not only Catholic school education but religious education and youth ministry programs, had a "negligible impact" on whether a Catholic child would remain Catholic as an adult. How could that be? Well, let's go back to my daughter's classmate, whose Catholic family thinks it's important enough to send their children to Catholic school but not important enough to understand or believe the teachings of the faith.

Our Catholic formation programs -- in schools and in parishes -- continue to be ineffective in producing knowledgeable Catholics who understand what it truly means to be a Catholic. And, if you don't know what it means to be a Catholic, you don't have any reason to be loyal to your faith or your Church. Our schools, our religious education programs, our pastors, our bishops must find a way to transmit the truth of our teachings in an unequivocal way.

If our Catholic schools are not clearly teaching the meaning of Eucharist, we have failed.

It reminded me of too many incidents, the most recent, a conversation with a child I directed last year.

She graduated a year ago from our parochial school, which she attended for 8 years.
She had a lovely voice, and when I ran into her I asked if she was singing in choir in high school.

No, it didn't fit in with her schedule, she said wistfully. Well, I offered, you're old enough now, you can come sing with the adult choir at church.

She replied, oh no, her family was very "fussy" about where they went to church, and she mentioned a non-denominational church in town.

We have teachers who give themselves "Sundays off" because they go to Mass during the week; catechists who are not communicants because they are in irregular situations and have no interest in regularizing them, (our diocese makes it very easy to acquire a decree of nullity, I know this firsthand, and I am not "judging," I have discussed this with them,); we have lay ministers who lead "evenings of reflection," etc, at which they roll their eyes and purse their lips when instructing people on Church doctrine with which they disagree. (And I think our parish is in better shape than many I have lived in, in the past few decades.)

I don't have any answers....

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