Tuesday, July 23, 2013


World youth greet Pope Francis outside Brazil's Apollo Space Capsule, I mean, Cathedral: NBC Reporter states on Today, quoting the pope: "I have arrived in Brazil, not bringing gold and silver, but Jesus Christ!"--Ann Thompson, NBC News (in fact NBC seems to have the most concerned coverage of the lapse in the papal security yesterday, which I viewed live and found astoundingly dangerous, first of all for security, then the laity and ultimately the pope. I think it is a miracle no one was injured or run over or hit by other cars or motorcycles or crushed to death!)

The goal of parents is to give their youth (children) a foundation of participating in the Church. This begins with the home being made into the "Church in Miniature" where the parents are the "pastors" of their children. In fact, the father, husband is the head of the home and collaborates with his wife and the mother of his children in rearing them to love God and neighbor.

As "good shepherds" of their children, parents have the responsibility of making sure their children are reared in the faith by having them baptized, confirmed and prepared for the other sacraments of the Church, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Marriage, Holy Orders as well as the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.


How do we improve youth ministry? Normally we think of what the parish must do first, but in fact, we should be thinking FIRST about the parents who are the youth ministers of their family! What we do in the parish is meant to support the full time youth ministers who are the parents.

Herein lies the problem. We know that there is a decline in religious practices in the home and that most parents today do not view theIR home and Catholic family as the "Church in Miniature." When this happens, the seeds of antipathy and disinterest are sown in the children of the family. If the father is disengaged from the faith and does not model a manly spirituality and a manly regimentation to make sure the family goes to Mass each Sunday, prays in the home and does good works at home and elsewhere, this disinterest and antipathy grows unabated.

The Catholic youth I know are good people, they are great kids. Their parents love them, but religion isn't always the number one priority in their homes, everything else comes before. A goodly number of parents and children have lost the Catholic sense of the sacred and fear of the Lord. Their Catholicism is built upon shifting sand. Anything might wash it away.

If we could all have a common bottom line in terms of what is essential in the practice of the faith, I think we could improve our youth ministry and keep our youth engaged in the Church throughout their lives, or have a higher percentage of this happening for our folks.

This is my dream list:

1. All Catholics assist at Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation and understand that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church and ecumenism is to bring our separated brethren back into full communion not to make Catholics think it doesn't matter what denomination one attends or what religion one belongs to, just as long as one is good; (this alone will accomplish great things, but how many parents today take this seriously?)

2. All Catholics pray in the home, have icons/religious art/imagery and say a blessing before eating.

3. Every Catholic appreciate that the Real Presence of our Lord remains in every Catholic Church in the tabernacle in the Most Blessed Sacrament and is a source of strength and consolation in need and a source of inspiration and strength and that private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is medicinal.

4. Every Catholic should know and appreciate that no matter how bad things get in the parish and liturgically or how different the taste of the parish is in terms of music and community compared to the wants and likes of individual family members, that if the Mass is celebrated validly, the Word of God is heard, the Sacrifice of Christ is made present in an unbloody way and God the Father accepts this Sacrifice of His Son for our salvation and God the Father gives us back His Son through the Holy Spirit and sacramentally in Holy Communion. Our worthy communion with our Lord, spiritually at Mass and worthily when we receive Him unites us to the Church and thus to God the Most Holy Trinity and ultimately to the eternal Kingdom of God in heaven. The salvation of the sin sick soul and the resurrection of the body are the goals of the Sacrifice of Christ accepted by God the Father. All of salvation history beginning with Adam and Eve, the People of Israel through the Second Coming of Christ is geared to our salvation from the eternal fires of hell.

MY FINAL COMMENT: If these four things are accomplished or experienced, everything else is icing on the cake. We hope that parishes and dioceses have good youth ministers and ministries, but often some of the best Catholics come from youth who never really participated in non-obligatory youth ministries. They simply did the first four things.


WSquared said...

Your "dream list" is a good one, Father.

And what jumps out is how we approach the Incarnation.

A goodly number of parents and children have lost the Catholic sense of the sacred and fear of the Lord.

We've all swallowed the materialistic assumptions of the larger culture, whereby religious belief is supposedly merely "spiritual" and also private. And we've done it without thinking. Not surprisingly, that larger culture has a problem with belief in the Incarnation, and a good many "Christian" denominations in the U.S. do, too . In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, we like to think that God is only "allowed" in the spiritual realm-- in our thoughts and in our ideas-- but somehow, he's "not allowed" when it comes to matter. But either He can and does act in the material realm, too, or He's not really God.

Also, many a modern Catholic in the U.S. tends to think that simply because "Catholic" means "universal," then it follows that anything and everything goes. That's bad enough. But what makes it worse is that it seems never to occur to them also that 12 years of religion classes in Catholic school and just showing up for Mass every Sunday aren't "it."

...and furthermore, what does anyone even mean by "good"?

Pater Ignotus said...

I don't think that "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
can be called "icing on the cake."

The Church's social doctrine is an integral part of her evangelizing ministry. Nothing that concerns the community of men and women - situations and problems regarding justice, freedom, development, relations between peoples, peace - is foreign to evangelization, and evangelization would be incomplete if it did not take into account the mutual demands continually made by the Gospel and the concrete, personal and social life of Man (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 29). Profound links exist between evangelization and human promotion: "These include links of an anthropological order, because the man who is to be evangelized is not an abstract being, but is subject to social and economic questions. They also include links in the theological order, since one cannot disassociate the plan of creation from the plan of Redemption. . . . They include links of the eminently evangelical order, which is that of charity: how in fact can one proclaim the new commandment without promoting in justice and in peace the true, authentic advancement of man?" (Evangelii Nuntiandi 31)

"In effect, to teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church's evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Savior." (Centesimus Annus, 5)

No, it is not correct to say that "everything else is icing on the cake."

Marc said...

I think this idea that "catholic" means "universal" is a problem. I understand the original Greek meaning is actually closer to "whole" or "entire." This makes a lot more sense when one considers its original usage in the early Church: "Where the bishop is, there is the catholic church."

Perhaps if people were properly instructed in this, they would reject the sorts of errors you're talking about. Of course, then they would recognize that they are somehow related intimately with their bishop, which would come as a surprise considering most bishops are rarely seen or heard from since they have ceded all of their authority and responsibility to the pope.

Anyway, my point is that the local bishop is presumably in a much better position to help with the actual issues present to his flock than the pope. I recall many wondering why the pope didn't say something about the recent gay marriage decision in America. The bigger question is: what did your bishop say about it? And, unfortunately, for most of us, the answer is "I don't know."

Marc said...

"If we understand the commandments of Christ and of the Apostles aright, our business as Christians consists not in increasing the number of our good deeds which are only the means of furthering the purpose of our Christian life, but in deriving from them the utmost profit, that is in acquiring the most abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit."