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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

"I believe in.... no, no, not REALLY, it's just something we say!"

Some time ago I observed a group of catechumens, all of whom had been attending sessions for a minimum of four months, under the guidance of a Winking Catholic.
(You know the type, a transcript would reveal unimpeachable explication of magisterial teaching, so there would be no hints of the eye-rolling, smirking and finger quotes sketched in the air that accompanied the words to assure the newbies that, nah, we Catholics don't really believe that.)
Anyway, the degree to which said WC had communicated the splendour of truth to the catechumens can be gauged by one of them suddenly waking up and saying, "Wait a minute.... you're talking about Jesus as if he was God or somethin'."

There was an incident about which I was not going to write, had I not read about all the Winking Catholics with whom the poor teachers and clergy of the Diocese of Charlotte must deal.
I prepared a little more carefully for the CCD class on Matrimony than I had on any of the other sacraments, because I knew what a minefield it could be.
I actually wrote out talking points to make certain that I phrased things in positive rather than negative ways, (e.g., relationship of man and woman a permanent symbol of relationship of Christ and Church, rather than condemnation of homosexual relationships, which some in this age group would have no understanding of anyway, or discussion of decrees of nullity, ditto); that I used examples and pronouns in such a way that no one could feel personally attacked, judged, described;  that my statements were utterly in keeping with what the Church teaches -- but most of all, I planned several different iterations of the principles that unless the Blessed Mother pops in, everyone in the room is a sinner and that while sinful actions may be observed and even at times judged, ONLY God knows the heart and passes judgement on persons.
I had it better phrased than that, honest...
Anyway, the minefield was intensified by several children who asked, repeatedly over the course of the hour and a half, about divorce. There are enough students for whom I have multiple home phone numbers that I guessed there were probably irregular situations, but I was actually more worried because there are students with close relatives in open same-sex relationships.

None of this seemed to be an issue, however.


Then every teacher in the program was sent a letter, thanks, we know it's a difficult and important job, but you need to teach your classes what the Church teaches, and we have resources to help you do exactly that, and if you can't, we thank you again but good-bye.

And because of that class I decide I must actually go to the priest who wrote the letter and ask, is it I? and was it on this subject?
Because it would not have completely surprised me completely if we had to revisit part of that lesson.

But no, everyone's quite pleased with how that week went, and there have been no letters from home.

Weeks pass.

Then a father arrives, can I speak to you in the hall, my kid says you said, I'll show you my marriage license, why did you ask him if....

Anyway, I was glad to be able to use the NYTimes blogging teacher line about, I promise not to believe every thing your kid tells me happens at home if you promise not to believe every word he tells you about what happened in class.

Anyway, all straightened out, and actually, in  conversation the two of us were able to discern what was really going on -- all of his closest friends parent's are divorced, ALL of them, and several very recently and every time anyone raises a voice the child becomes terrified that that are going to divorce, and maybe they aren't "really" married.

This guy seems to be doing a really good job not just of of living the Faith, but of trying to pass it on to his children.

Which is a WHOLE lot better than the You-Can't-Teach-My-Kid-That-Catholic-Stuff that seems to be going on elsewhere, particularly at Charlotte Catholic High School.

And to those parents, I would like to say what I said to some children in a parochial school choir I directed, when they all came in one week complaining that their parents had been upset by telling them that they were obligated to get their kids to Mass every Sunday, "I'm footing the bill for you to go to that school, they don't tell me what to do, I tell them."

Your parents are wrong. They pay less than 40 percent of what it costs for you to go to school here, and I and the little old ladies on fixed incomes and the young couples who don't have any children yet, who put money in the collection basket every week foot the bill for you to go to this school, and we are only doing that because we care that you are being brought up to be a good, faithful, practicing Catholic. If your parents just want an inexpensive alternative to a private school, I'm not going to subsidize it, and apparently the pastor and principal agree with me. Please tell your parents that.

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