All posts tagged: children

Forming Lifelong Disciples through Developmentally-Responsive Catechesis

A pressing question in the area of faith formation today is whether or not we are indeed forming people for a lifelong practice of the faith and celebration of the sacraments. A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center indicates that 42% of adults in the United States have left the faith of their childhood. In the book Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell points out that the lack of attachment to one’s childhood faith is particularly significant among Catholics.[1] She cites an earlier Pew study that showed only 30% of Americans who were raised Catholic are still attending Mass at least once a month. A number of parish catechetical leaders also report declining enrollment in their parish religious education classes for age levels that are not sacramental years, suggesting that perhaps parents are perceiving less value in the curriculum offered by the parish program in non-sacramental years. In addition, parish leaders continue to be frustrated that even the families who are involved in the parish religious education program often seem to treat it as one …

Offertory Catechesis

Teachings on the offertory In the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, the Holy Father Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI affirmed that the presentation of the gifts at the offertory ought “not to be viewed simply as a kind of ‘interval’ between the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. . . . It enables us to appreciate how God invites man to participate in bringing to fulfilment his handiwork, and in so doing, gives human labour its authentic meaning, since through the celebration of the Eucharist, it is united to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ” (Sacramentum Caritatis, §47). At every Sunday Mass, after the Prayer of the Faithful, a money-offering collection is taken by the ushers. The Catechism provides guidance on how worshipers are to appreciate their participation in this money-offering collection: From the very beginning Christians have brought, along with the bread and wine for the Eucharist, gifts to share with those in need. This custom of the collection, ever appropriate, is inspired by the example of Christ who became poor to make …

Joy and Parenting

There is a common sentiment, one which I shared as a single person, that the place where you live is simply a practical location to store food and clothing, sleep, charge your cell phone, and relax away from all the tasks and commitments of life. This was how I felt about my dorm room in college, a cinder block cube where I seldom worked and where I would certainly never have invited anyone for dinner. Until recently, I never actually owned a home, so many of the spots I dwelled in were temporary and shared. This did not negate the possibility of experiencing these places as a kind of home, but I lived more of my life away from the home than in it. It was not until I married and we started our family that I started to treat the place we lived as a place that meant something more than a cozy nook to eat and sleep in. The phrase “domestic Church” coined in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, §11) establishes the home of Christian families as “the first school of Christian …

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: Cultivating the Christian Imagination of the Child

Recently I was talking to a mother of two young children, who explained that she drops her youngest son off at childcare while she attends Mass because “he is too young to get anything out of it.” Implicit in her remark is the assumption that the child, particularly the young child, neither possesses within himself a hunger for God nor is capacitated for worship—that his age prevents him from meaningful participation in the liturgy. She primarily envisions worship in terms of utility. It exists in order for us to “get something.” Cast in therapeutic, moralistic, and individualist terms worship functions either to meet one’s subjective needs, to make one “feel good,” or to make one a generically “better person.” Such a view, both of the nature of the young child and of worship is deeply imprinted on the Catholic imagination in the United States. Children are seen as a distraction to adult worship—hence, the emergence of strategies to get kids out of Mass: “the cry room” and “children’s Liturgy of the Word.” In fact, there …

Why Chant is Good for Children

My three year old son is a regular Mass-goer. Aware of his very short attention span, we make sure to sit in the front each and every Sunday. He loves when there is singing, especially chant. He loves elaborate processions. He loves incense and stained glass. He loves churches. But, it’s the words that bore him. Through the eyes of my son, I have noticed how much of the Roman Rite requires an understanding of speech. There are the opening rites, which are always read (except for the interruption of the Gloria). There is the Liturgy of the Word, which is read. There is the homily, which is read (when one is actually written but that’s for another post). There is the Universal Prayer, which is read. There is the Eucharistic Prayer, which is read. There is the Our Father, which is said. There are the closing rites, which are read. Music in the Roman Rite functions seemingly as an interlude to the actual work of liturgical praise. It’s like, “Hey, it’s getting wordy, let’s …

A Tale of Two Synods: What’s Become of Catholic Marriage and What Can We Do About It?

Hermeneutics has always been a challenge, even with something seemingly simple. Allow me an example. I was teaching catechism for three- to five-year-olds at our parish on Sunday, and I asked the kids to draw a picture of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt. Well, after five minutes my son brings up his uncontestably creative rendition. I could see Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, but there was a fourth figure I couldn’t make out. Aware that I look thoroughly nonplussed, my son enlightens me: “Papa, you see, that’s Pontius Pilate. He was flying their plane!” Thankfully, you didn’t come here tonight to hear me tell jokes. You’re here to hear a tale of two Synods: what’s happened to marriage and what we can do about it. It was the best of Synods, it was the worst of Synods, it was the synod of wisdom, it was the synod of foolishness, it was the episcopate of belief, it was the episcopate of incredulity, it was the papacy of Light, it was the papacy of Darkness . . …