Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Are We Doing Enough?

This interesting essay "Time for Liberal Catholics to Quit?" comes at a time when I'm already wondering if we're doing enough.

My two older children (ages 16 and 20) are at that point in their lives (and faith) where Church just seems to be a bunch of rules for them to follow; rules that don't have much meaning behind them.  So I feel like we haven't done enough.  They both went to Catholic school, from pre-K through the present (Big Brother's at a Catholic college, even).

So they didn't get it in school.

My guess is that the kids in CCD (oops, sorry, "Faith Formation") get even less.  In our parish, they attend 14 sessions.  14 3-hour sessions, one hour of which is Mass.  So they get 28 hours of instruction, less "move-around time" for a full year.  Are they getting it there?

And clearly the Big Kids didn't get it at home.  We take them to Mass on Sundays and encourage them to serve in different ways.  They see examples of prayer, custom, and involvement in service from us and from others in the community.  But do they connect it to church?

Maybe it's just their age and stage.  But I think that many people never get past this stage.  If the Church doesn't form them well enough to want what is there, they're never going to take a second look.  They may stick around out of laziness, habit, a deep (but unrealized) interior need for the Eucharist and all the rest that they can only get at our church, or even out of arrogance.  They may stay, but they won't love it.

Can we teach them to love their faith?  Can we teach them to live their faith?  Are we doing enough?


Sr. Ann Marie said...

Barb, a thousand "thank you's." Your directions were very, very clear and my old interface is back! I feel like I've "come home" again!

nicole said...

I never left the church, but it wasn't until college that I really took ownership of it in a real, knowledgeable way. I knew the faith was more than just rules, but I didn't know what the more was. And it was a group of college kids reading and learning together that gave me the depth and the why. I try to tell my kids what I know about the things we do and believe because I don't want them going to college thinking it is just rules. I think efforts at formation are getting better, but they are not good enough. I help teach Pre-K and Kinder faith formation and I am always adding to what is in the books. The church must do more.

Ellen said...

Have faith Barb. I felt the same way when I was in my late teens/early twenties. And with parental guidance, I found my faith again. As did my husband (whose parents left the church and he came back when we started dating) and my son. Just keep encouraging them.

Jeanne said...

It's a hard question and I don't think there are any easy or simple answers. My sister asked me if she should insist her older teenage son attend mass. She remembered how I, at that same age, stopped going to church and started exploring other churches and paths. My journey back to the church was a long one and I am not sure just why or how I ended up back at church and more faithful to it than before. It wasn't (shudder) 12 years of Catholic school, which did the opposite - that taught me nothing but a bunch of meaningless rules. It is hard to put into words but you know something? I think at the end of the day, it is the Holy Spirit's doing. You have planted the seeds and now it's up to Him to water them and help them grow fruit.

Denise said...

As parents we do our best then trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest. I think what we do on our knees is as important as what we try to actively teach. Just keep praying for your children. Model the faith as best you can and they will get the message. Whether they accept the message is a matter of their free will. St. Monica, pray for us!

Mimi said...

I feel the same way as I heard my 16 year old through in Orthodoxy. Does he see the reason for Lent, or does it just feel like a list of "can'ts" and "shoulds"

Sigh. Prayers.

Michelle said...

My almost 14 year old is so much more solid in his faith than I was at that age...I think I qualified as a "fallen away Catholic" by the time I was 12 or 13. But I know he has not yet been put to the test - he hasn't yet had to face the real world and the real pressures of materialism and secularism and nihilism. He hasn't faced the death of a loved one or the heartbreak of love lost or anything else that might make him doubt what I have taught him. I just keep praying for him and all my kids that their path in life will not be as rocky as mine was.