Edmund Adamus
Edmund’s Friday F A S T - Family Actions – Spirituality Thoughts
During the last week, my little 5-year-old boy proudly brought home his first recorder. That distinctive [out of tune] tone that a child makes when they make that unmistakable shrill whistle in a first attempt to craft a tune out of an unfamiliar but ubiquitous wind instrument from school is something that many parents will know and hope it gets better even if it doesn’t mark the beginning of career in music!

But it got me thinking of the “sounds” of the home and the family that we wish our children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces to hear. Are they sounds of loving tones both in voice and gesture that we wish them to imbibe and absorb over time? Pope Francis, in addressing a major international conference on the universal and timeless value of marriage hosted in the Vatican this week (scroll down to ‘Events’ for details), spoke movingly of the need and right of children to a father and mother, ‘capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.’
 
He also went on to say that despite ‘political notions’ that threaten marriage as the indispensable one flesh union of man and woman open to life, “family is an anthropological fact.”  Here is a clear and unambiguous message from the ‘Father’ of the family – that is the Church militant on earth.  It is not out of tune or out of key but resonant and unmistakable as to its full meaning and importance. As parents, do we consciously impart to our children at all times a consistent and unmistakable body of truths and gospel values that resonate and do not jar on the ear so to speak?  
 
We may not always, as we all commit sin and fall short of the ideal of love, which is why it’s important for parents to ask forgiveness from their children as appropriate.  But our overall message, our overall witness about the beauty and truth of male/female complementarity must never be un-mistaken or off-key.  As St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:8, “if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?”
 
So if we want our children to grow up to be “revolutionaries with courage to seek true and lasting love”, as Pope Francis put it, then the ambiance, and domestic cultural environment we make for them, becomes the critical place that will inspire them to the vocation of a lifelong, lasting and faithful marriage in their own turn. Most sensible people admit that the family is in deep crisis globally. But unless and until this crisis is seen with the same urgency that so many view the need for the protection of the natural environment – a simile that Pope Francis himself makes in the above speech – then the flourishing human ecology that the Pope calls for [a phrase first used by St. John Paul II in Centisimus Annus] simply will not come about at the pace and with the success God wills for us.  

We are coming to the end of the Church’s year with the triumphant Feast of Jesus Christ Universal King. Let’s pledge ourselves as families to approach that feast with new vigour, knowing that we serve the Lord who chose deliberately to make His divine sovereignty known for the first time at the union of a man and a woman – the wedding feast of Cana!  

- Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster

 

By: An Anonymous Priest.

Watching the news this morning, I was fascinated to hear the story of Christine Weick – the woman who was thrown out of the National Cathedral in Washington DC. The Cathedral had been loaned to the local Muslim group to use during their Friday prayers. As the prayers began, Christine stood up, pointed at the large Cross, and proclaimed that “Jesus Christ is our Lord and saviour”. The Cathedral authorities, embarrassed by her behaviour, swiftly removed her. But yet she shouted it louder all the more.

This scenario is what is taking place in today’s Gospel:

“Now it happened that as he drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Sir,’ he replied, ‘let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.’ And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God.” - Luke 18:35-43 

To call Jesus ‘Son of David’ is to recognise him as the rightful King. Notice how the crowd tell him to be quiet? How embarrassing; it might offend someone. Well, the truth is that Jesus Christ is the eternal, true and righteous King of all, and that includes the group of Muslims praying in Washington Cathedral. To deny this fact would be to deny the nature of Christ and his Kingship. Islam does not recognise Jesus as King, Christine Weick does. It was she however who was not welcome in the Cathedral yesterday.

To call Christ ‘King’ is an outward sign of faith. So much so that Jesus restores the sight of men. It is also the cry of martyrs, many of whom throughout history were martyred shouting ‘Vivat Christus Rex’ (long live Christ the King). Forever, Hosanna to the Son of David. Amen.

Christine Wieck

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My dressing gown hangs in the back of my bedroom door. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself, I put the sleeves round the back of my neck and my arms round its middle. Then I can pretend I’m having a cuddle; with Jesus, with my husband, with whoever. I just want to be picked up and cuddled.
What a sorry, sad, soppy piece of sulkyness I am.
Today, when I am feeling particularly sorry for myself for several different reasons, I want it to be Jesus. Unfortunately for me, Jesus is having none of it.
“You’re looking for consolation.” He tells me. Not in a bad way, He’s just stating the fact.
And yes I am. Unfortunately for me, now He’s pointed that out, I know I’m not going to find any.
“Lord, teach me how to suffer…” – Why did I ever ask Him that at the start of this year??!!!
Therese talks about how to suffer. All this year I have only suffered badly. I now realise that my unquenchable thirst for consolation has only doubled, no tripled the suffering I have encountered this year.
I search for consolation by stuffing biscuits into my face. I search for it by counting the number of likes on my Facebook posts. I search for it in demanding attention from other people. I find it in dwelling on thoughts for hours, that I really should not be dwelling on.
Well, now He’s made me aware of how I’m doing it, I know none of those things are going to satisfy me anymore.
Oh dear.
It looks like I might actually be maturing as a human being.

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By Fr. Dylan James

I want to speak about an important way to love, a way that, sadly, many people seem to have forgotten about today, namely, the need to love those who have died by praying for them.
Now, I’m not saying that people don’t care about the dead any more. But it does seem that people have lost sense of part of what is INVOLVED in love for them, namely, praying for people who have died. One of the ‘seven spiritual works of mercy’ is to pray for the dead.
So, let me point out the three things that the dead need our prayers for.

First, they need our prayers for MERCY in the JUDGEMENT.
When I die I will stand before the judgement seat of God. It will be decided whether I will be sent to Hell or Heaven.
Part of problem today is that we tend not to really believe in Hell any more, so that we just gloss over the words we heard the Lord Jesus say, as He said many times, of this place where “there will be weeping and grinding of teeth” (Mt 25:30) for all eternity. Likewise, our modern world is so unwilling to face death that we avoid texts like the one we just heard from St Paul referring to our end coming like a “thief in the night”(1 Thess 5:1-16).
We tend, instead, to picture a comfortable middle-class Western lifestyle that will continue past death with no awkward realities like ‘judgement’ getting in the way.
But the simple truth is that I will die. And I will be judged.
And it is the prayers of the living that will assist me in receiving mercy in that judgment. This is what the Jews of our Lord’s own time believed (2 Macc 12:42-45). This what the early Christians believed, so we find St Paul praying for a dead man called Onesiphorus that “the Lord will grant him mercy”(2 Tim 1:18).

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Second, after the particular judgement, if I am to go to heaven I will still almost certainly need to be PURIFIED of my sins, to be ready for the perfection of Heaven. This purification happens in the place that the Church calls ‘Purgatory’. It involves CHANGING us, and like any change it is difficult and painful. The classical image for this is of FIRE, as St. Peter puts it, being purified in fire as gold is purified in fire (1 Pet 1:7) –the impurities burned away. Thus the new Catechism quotes St Gregory referring to this “purifying fire”(CCC 1031). Many of the saints have seen visions of this, the earliest recorded being to St Perpetua, who was shown a vision of her brother in this place of “gloominess”, “thirst”, and “pain”, and yet she was also shown how her prayers brought comfort to him in that refining fire -like water in a desert.
So, our prayers for the dead bring them COMFORT in their time of purgation.

Thirdly and finally, the souls in Purgatory need our assistance to SPEED them through this process, to SHORTEN their time there. Thus we read in the book of Maccabees that sacrifices were offered in the Temple for the dead “that they might be released from their sins”(2 Macc 12:42-45). Because if I am there I will not get out until the temporal debt has been paid for my sins.

And because our loved ones are now outside the same ‘time reference’ as ourselves we should CONTINUE to pray -thus I still pray for my Grandma who died two decades ago, even though that was long ago and even though she was a lovely woman. I pray for her because I still love her, and I expect all my prayers to be counted on her behalf.

Finally, HOW should we pray? Which prayers should we offer? I think the most important thing is that we should pray REGULARLY, even if it is only Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers.

So, there are three things that the prayers of the living assist the dead in: Mercy in the judgement, comfort in the purging fire, and in a shortening of the time in that fire.
To failure to offer this assistance is to fail to love. But to be faithful in offering this assistance is to show both our love and our belief and hope in the resurrection of the dead.

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So, this happened.

I was reversing out of a parking space, looking over my left shoulder, and I didn’t leave myself enough room on the right hand side. Crunch.

My car is a 4×4 mega-tank and has suffered a small scratch. The car I hit however, has crumpled like a crisp packet.

Of course this happened right after Mass where the car park was full of people all covering their mouths with their hands and gasping and pointing.

I waited for the owner to come back and then apologised profusely whilst trying very hard not to cry (because I’m such a girl). We exchanged details and to my utter disbelief and horror I realise that this very sweet elderly lady is a prominent member of our very large parish, AND a nun, AND she is really good friends with my parents!

My Dad is going to kill me.” I told her. Once we had established who my Dad was, she then went on to tell me who I was, and how she had been hearing all about me! In fact we sat together last year at the reception of my parents Golden wedding anniversary. She remembers me because I was 8 months pregnant with Angelica at the time! She starts laughing. I start crying.

Don’t worry dear” she says “It’s the size of your wheels that caused the problem.

No…” I assured her “It’s the size of my brain.

At least you’ll have something to write about now eh?! ;)”

SHE READS MY BLOG!!!

Following on from my last post, where I expressed with utter false humility, how in my parish no-one would really bat an eyelid if I never showed up for Mass again, I think it is now fairly safe to say that EVERYONE in my parish is going to know exactly who I am. Great.

The Lord works in mysterious and humbling ways…

Following on from my last post…

I got my Divine Office morning and evening prayer book today. This is brand new to me and I am receiving instruction through my Carmelite group. Opposed to priests and religious, secular Carmelites are called to pray just the morning and evening parts of the Office, and night prayer if possible.

From what I have experienced of the Divine Office so far, I know i’m really gonna like it. I love the rhythm and flow of the left hand side saying the first part, and the right hand side saying the responses. I love the fact that Catholics all over the world, including the Pope will be saying the same prayers as I am saying everyday. That makes me feel much more included in the church than I ever have felt, actually.

To be honest I have always (and still do) feel like a nobody in the church. I’ll never be a priest, bishop or cardinal, I doubt i’ll ever be a nun. I don’t have a degree – I don’t even have any A levels. I don’t have a paid, or un-paid position in the church. I’m not in charge of anyone apart from my children. I have no authority whatsoever outside of my home. In my parish, no-one would really bat an eyelid if I never showed up for Mass again. I really am a nobody. A tiny violet, a little daisy in amongst the grand roses and lilies. Yet I have felt for some time that this is my greatest strength.

As I open it for the first time, the ribbon of my new (second hand) Divine Office – still in place from it’s previous owner, leads me to read this passage of scripture:

“To shame what is strong, God has chosen what the world counts weakness. He has chosen things low and contemptible, mere nothings, to overthrow the existing order. And so there is no place for human pride in the presence of God…” 1 Cor 1:27-29

What freedom I have to love God! In my nothingness and weakness I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. I am a nobody, on fire with a love that God is using to confound the wise! May I always be a nobody,  who prays the same prayers as the priests, bishops and cardinals, to a God who ranks us in order of love.

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Isn’t it funny when you begin seriously discerning your Carmelite vocation and you go on holiday, walk into a chemist and the chemists middle name is Carmel?!

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Or when an hour later you are at a farm and the farmer tells you that the big row of pine trees are are unique in this area because he had them all shipped in from Carmel in San Francisco?!

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And when you get home and a new ballet school opens up in the church hall where you are supposed to go for your first Carmelite meeting?!

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And when it happens to be Carmelite All Saint’s Day (Nov 14th) and you receive a surprise package in the post containing this: “Got this for you from the Carmel in Lisieux…”

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And then when it happens to be Carmelite All Soul’s Day (Nov 15th) and you get another surprise package (because you forgot you ordered it!) of the Divine Office morning and evening prayers.

I love co-incidences! I love the fact that I don’t believe any of these were co-incidences! I love being (almost) Carmelite!

Prof. Carl Djerassi

Prof. Carl Djerassi

Sex could soon exist purely for fun, as more women turn to IVF to have babies, the inventor of the contraceptive pill has claimed. Professor Carl Djerassi, 91, believes the Pill could become redundant as soon as 2050, as more men and women choose to start a family through the ‘insurance policy’ of IVF, even if they do not have fertility problems. It means would-be parents would freeze their eggs and sperms before being sterilised, rendering the Pill pointless.

The professor – who played a crucial role in developing the oral contraceptive in 1951 – says advances in fertility treatment will create a ‘generation manana’ in which people know they can control the timing of parenthood, without any repercussions.  But it also means sex will become a futile exercise for those wanting to reproduce – and will instead become purely recreational.  

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, he said: ‘The vast majority of women who will choose IVF in the future will be fertile women who have frozen their eggs and delayed pregnancy… I predict that many of these women will be fertilised by IVF methods because of the advances in genetic screening. And once that happens then IVF will start to become a normal non-coital method of having children… For them, the separation between sex and reproductions will be 100 per cent.’  

Professor Djerassi also predicted there will be more IVF fertilisation among fertile women in the next few decades – ‘say by 2050′ – than there currently is among those who are fertility-impaired. At the moment, that figure is around five million.

In other news…

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Daryl Lee and Luke Harris

A gay couple are to become fathers to three babies in just seven months after meeting three different surrogate mothers online. For the past 15 years, Daryl Lee, 41, and Luke Harris, 50, had longed to have children and joined a number of online forums in an attempt to find a suitable surrogate. They made contact with one of the women, Becky Harris, 27, and through her met Bex Harris, 32, and Viktoria Ellis, 32.

Mr Lee, 41, is the biological father of two of the children, while Mr Harris, 50, gave his sperm for the third. All three babies will be born within seven months of each other, between January and July next year. ‘We love each other very much, but despite that it has felt like something was missing from our lives – our home felt empty without children,’ Mr Harris told The Sun’s Sarah Arnold. ‘We never imagined in our wildest dreams we would have three all at once.’ 

Mr Lee and Mr Harris, who live in Surrey, had met online in 1999, and entered into a civil partnership in 2012.  They had considered adopting a child, but decided to try surrogacy after learning that singer Elton John and his partner David Furnish had a child, Zachary, by a surrogate mother in December 2010. Their second son, Elijah, was born via the same woman in January 2013. Gay couples using a surrogate to have a child have only been able to apply for a parental order, giving them the legal rights over the child and relinquishing those of the surrogate since April 2010.

Surrogates - Becky Harris (bottom right), Bex Harris (centre) and Viktoria Ellis (top left) with their neighbour Jemma King (top right) and Bex's mother Karen (left) appeared on ITV's This Morning in July to talk about surrogacy. When they appeared on the show, Bex was already carrying Mr Harris and Mr Lee's baby, Viktoria was preparing to, and Becky was days away from giving birth to another couple's child.

Surrogates – Becky Harris (bottom right), Bex Harris (centre) and Viktoria Ellis (top left) with their neighbour Jemma King (top right) and Bex’s mother Karen (left) appeared on ITV’s This Morning in July to talk about surrogacy. When they appeared on the show, Bex was already carrying Mr Harris and Mr Lee’s baby, Viktoria was preparing to, and Becky was days away from giving birth to another couple’s child.

Mr Harris and Mr Lee met Becky Harris, but she was already helping another couple and was pregnant with her third surrogate child, so put them in touch with her former sister-in-law, Bex Harris. Bex, 32, conceived the first child with her own egg and Mr Lee’s sperm, which she inseminated at home. She in turn introduced them to her friend Viktoria Ellis. Ms Ellis then got pregnant using Mr Harris’s sperm. Finally Becky Harris, having recently given birth to another other couple’s baby, decided she would help them too and also became pregnant with Mr Lee’s sperm. 

They decided that Mr. Harris would not inseminate Miss Harris or Ms Harris as this may lead to confusion on the birth certificates.

Mr Lee said: ‘While it is unorthodox to have three surrogates at the same time, we couldn’t turn down what could be our only chance to have the big family we’d always dreamed of.’ The couple say their families are happy for them, and are extending their three-bedroom home to add extra bedrooms and bathrooms to fit their brood, who they have dubbed the ‘twiplets’.  Both Mr Harris and Mr Lee plan to work part-time, with one parent at home to care for the children, and Mr Lee’s parents will also move in to help them.

Under UK law, it is illegal to pay a surrogate mother to carry a child, other than reasonable expenses such as travel costs, maternity clothing, care for her other children or counselling. Agencies recommend these expenses amount to no more than £15,000 per pregnancy.

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Ironically it seems that Mr Lee and Mr Harris are already living out Prof. Djerassi’s prediction. As Prof, Djerassi says: “Sex will become a futile exercise for those wanting to reproduce.” 

With these types of stories I always wonder what will be told to the children when they start asking difficult questions about where babies come from. It is sensitive enough issue anyway without having to explain that: 

“Well, we went online and found a woman who was willing to rent her body to us for money. She has done this 3 times before with other people and so you have some half brothers and sisters living out there somewhere but we don’t know who they are. Anyway, Daddy masturbated into a small pot and gave the sperm to your mummy who artificially inseminated herself and became pregnant with you. Then we found two other women who agreed to do the same thing. You and your brother have the same Daddy (Daryl Lee) but different Mummy’s (Bex and Becky Harris), but your sister is no biological relation to you because she has a different Mummy and Daddy (Luke Harris and Victoria Ellis). When you were born, your Mother signed a piece of paper saying that she had no legal right to you and she handed you over to us. We paid her £15k to do this.”

Perhaps it’s better they just stick to the Stork story…?

Is there anyone left out there who disputes my claim that NFP is THE major counter cultural evangelising message in the west in the 21st century?

Sources -

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2827111/Sex-exist-purely-fun-2050-fertile-women-turn-IVF-start-families-claims-inventor-Pill.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2828276/Gay-couple-fathers-three-babies-just-seven-months-meeting-three-different-surrogate-mothers-online.html

http://www.1flesh.org/

Over the last two generations in the west, we have experienced a massive watering down of the faith. We are in a position now where very few Catholic parents are fulfilling their role as primary educators. How can parents transmit something that they do not know themselves? It’s not fair.

I will fight for these parents – my siblings, my friends, for as long as it takes the lazy, crazy people in charge of the church right now to actually do something about it. Until that happens I will continue to teach parents how to Understand, Live and Transmit their faith to their kids through my other blog www.understandlivetransmit.com

There are of course many contributing factors to this massive problem, but here are my top 6…

1. Poor Religious Education. 

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Sadly, we cannot assume that the religious education received by today’s Catholic parents in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s has been thorough or effective. Since the Second Vatican Council the emphasis in religious education has been on providing students with a variety of experiences such as prayer services, art projects, and community service instead of teaching such basics as the Ten Commandments, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and the meaning of grace etc. 

When this “experiential method” of teaching, along with religion textbooks which de-emphasized and watered down Church teachings, were introduced into Catholic classrooms in the 60s, proponents of the “new catechetics” promised that the new methodology and texts would make the Catholic faith relevant to youth. Instead they have resulted in widespread religious illiteracy and alienation from the Church and its teachings. I myself am living proof of this. I am 35. I came out of school with very little real knowledge of the faith. I had no idea that a relationship with Christ was possible. I had never even heard of Papal documents, the Catechism, Youcat or studied scripture in any real way until I went to Maryvale university 4 years ago. I never got taught the basics of the faith.

The methodology in teaching the faith over the last two generations has been Man centred rather than Christ centred. It has been predominantly preoccupied with the experience the student is receiving rather than the content being transmitted.

In 2000 Geraldine Stafford, Catholic Writer and Catechist for 25 years, recognised this problem and stated that: “Group prayer, art projects and community service all have their place in catechetics, but the primary responsibility of catechists is to follow Christ’s command to “teach them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matt. 28:20).” She recalls one student’s reaction when she told her year 8 class that she would be quizzing them on the Ten Commandments, the Two Great Commandments, and the Beatitudes. “You really expect us to learn these things?” one of her students asked in shocked disbelief. Her reaction indicated that memorization in RE class was a totally new experience for her.

She stated: “We must provide our youth with the experience of learning the teachings of Jesus and his Church if we expect them to develop a healthy, vibrant Catholic faith. As Saint John Paul II has pointed out: “The blossoms, if we may call them that, of faith and piety do not grow in the desert of a memory-less catechesis.”

In his article, “Mad Methodology,” Sean Innerst observed that “catechetical methodology is not only important insofar as it is the vehicle for imparting the content of the faith, but because, if wrongly conceived, it can undermine the whole content of the faith.” He cited this statement from the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism’s report: “When the methodological starting point is predominantly human experience, the texts at times easily leave the impression that human initiative is the prerequisite for divine action. God’s initiative appears subordinate to human experience and human action.” Innerst says that it is no accident that the “process of redefining faith and revelation in terms of personal experience coincides with a nearly 30-year process of dissent from Catholic teaching. . . . With the wrong methodology, even the best content will be no weightier than the opinion of the next person who picks up the text.”

2. Why are we playing Catechetical Roulette?

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“One of the biggest challenges (for Catholic families) is the defective catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church – I can speak from my experience in the United States – for the past 40 to 50 years.”  - Cardinal Raymond Burke, Family Synod 2014.

Why do we not have a central recommended program of Catechises and Evangelisation for each diocese? It seems strange to me that in one parish you will get brilliant formation and catechesis based on Holy Scripture, the Catechism and Papal doc’s, and in the parish up the road you will something quite different based on people’s own personal opinions of what they would prefer the catholic faith to look like.

It is at the point of First Holy Communion or Confirmation that many of today’s catholic parents are suddenly re-discovering their faith. For a large majority it will be the first time they will have ever read scripture. For many families it is the chance for the non-Catholic spouse to learn about the Catholic faith. It is an opportunity for evangelization and catechesis that must not be missed.

Parishes need to make adult formation classes a priority at the same time as the children are learning their sacramental prep. Sacramental prep needs to be family focused rather than child focused because if it is important to the parents, it will be important to the child.

What I would like to see:

  • Each parish will have in place a recognised ongoing adult formation / evangelisation course recommended by their diocese such as Anchor.
  • When people request to get married or have their Child baptised, Priests need to assess where people are in their relationship with Christ and then direct them accordingly– delaying the sacrament if necessary.
  • Marriage prep needs to CLEARLY spell out what catholic marriage is. The couple then have to decide if they really want a catholic marriage or not.
  • Marriage and Baptism prep need to include content on building a domestic church.
  • Pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament.

3. Sacramentelised but not Evangelised or Catechised. 

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Here is Pope Francis famously Baptizing Giulia, who’s Catholic parents are married civilly but not in church. I hope the Holy Father took this opportunity to not only make sure Giulia’s parents are properly catechised and evangelised, but also to sort out their marriage situation. Obviously if they are wishing their home to be a domestic church in which the faith is transmitted, they will realise that their witness in being sacramentaly married (or not) will speak volumes to their child. They obviously do not see the need for a sacramental marriage. I would bet £100 that they do not realise they are the primary educators of their child and have never even heard the term ‘domestic church’. Baptism of a child presents itself as a natural opportunity for sorting out all these issues and enables and empowers the parents to carry out their role as primary educators much more effectively.

I believe the way the sacraments have been administered over the last 2 generations has resulted in a massive watering down of the faith. I believe not enough time, energy or money have been invested in sacrament prep. And from my own experience, a lot of the sacramental prep out there is variable in it’s accuracy and effectiveness.

Here is what you can get in terms of sacrament prep if you live in some of the parishes around my area…

Baptism: 1 hour

First Confession/Holy Communion: 6 months: 1 hour per week for the Kids. (Parents get 6 x 1 hour sessions based on what the kids have been learning.)

Confirmation: 6 months: 1.5 hour meeting per month + 1 day retreat.

Marriage: 1 full day

Holy Orders: 7 Years

There seems to be a lot of time money and effort put into Children’s catechesis, and very little put into Adult catechesis and ongoing formation. Why is this? Is adult formation not as important? I would argue that taking into account the lack of effective religious education and catechesis over the last 2 generations it is now more important.

Earlier this year I spent several months getting involved with a local Baptism prep class. It was a one off, 1.5 hour session. At the end of this 1.5 hours, parents were expected to go off and bring up their children in the faith! I was greatly surprised and horrified to discover that 90% of these parents were unable to recite the Our Father without reading it off a sheet in front of them. They also had to fill in a sheet during the class stating why they wanted their child baptised. Most of them wrote ‘Family tradition’. Others wrote ‘To be part of the Church’. Very few had any understanding whatsoever that Baptism is the choice to turn away from sin and to  begin a relationship with Jesus. The vast majority of these parents need to go through RCIA. A priest friend of mine feels that many catholic churches today have become “Baptism Factories”.

A friend of mine is a great example of this. She is open in saying that she had poor religious education and catechesis and as an adult she has decided that the Catholic church holds no spirituality for her, so she has chosen Buddhism instead. She wanted her son to go to Catholic school because she wanted him to learn good moral values. At age 7, he turned round and declared that he wanted to be baptized! She was very happy for this to happen. He got baptised abroad and his Godparents live abroad. His mum is now bringing him up half Catholic, half Buddhist. They do not attend church. It is great that her son got baptised, but he, like his Mum has been sacramentalised without being catechised or evangelised. The cycle continues…

Why are we dumping people after the service? Do we really think that now they have been sacramentalised they are ‘done’? This applies to all the sacraments – but especially marriage:

 

“The initial years of marriage are a vital and fragile period during which couples become more aware of the challenges and meaning of married life. Consequently, pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament.” – (Para 35. mid-term report, Family Synod 2014)

The nurturing and social contact, the education and catechesis… the pastoral accompaniment must continue after the actual celebration of the sacrament.

 

4. Marrying a non-Catholic. 

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In 2013 in our parish we had 12 Catholic to Catholic weddings, and 23 Catholic to non-Catholic weddings. I feel it is safe to say that in the west, this is now the norm. Most families I know are in the position where 1 spouse is not catholic.

With one Catholic parent the transmission of the faith in the home by lived example, is reduced by at least 50%. 

Another childhood friend of ours is a perfect example of this. He is the Catholic in the marriage. However, growing up he suffered the same poor religious education, poor catechesis as we did and crucially, he is not evangelised. He has married his non-practising Hindu wife civilly and has not had the protection of a dispensation. This has resulted in their children remaining unbaptized. It is down to him to transmit the faith to his children. How exactly is he supposed to do this?

Of course every situation is different, and it very much depends on how supportive the non catholic spouse is. Another friend, for example, is married to an agnostic who accompanies him to church each week and is extremely supportive of their sons catholic upbringing. But very often the Catholic spouse compromises their faith to keep their non-Catholic spouse happy – especially (I have found) in the area of contraception. This is a subject that is never talked about and I feel Catholic parents in this position are currently offered no support.

 

5. Accepting Secularism as the norm. 

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“Today’s world appears to promote limitless affectivity, seeking to explore all its aspects, including the most complex. Indeed, the question of emotional fragility is very current: a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity do not always help greater maturity to be reached… In this context, couples are often uncertain and hesitant, struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of emotional and sexual life… The crisis in the couple destabilizes the family and may lead, through separations and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening the individual and social bonds.” – (Para 10. mid-term report, Family Synod 2014)

The present climate of relativism, secularism and individualism rejects nearly all that Christianity stands for, meaning that those whose faith is unstable are facing many new and unexpected perils. Most are just not well equipped enough to deal with it.

Today’s secular culture, teaches us from youth that devotion to God is a private matter. Our society makes us ashamed not only to speak about God in the workplace or to our neighbours, we are even hesitant to show a vibrant faith to our own children. In fact, we often feel uncomfortable with our own religious desires.

It is essential for parents to be made aware of the realities of our secular culture and what that means in terms of being a catholic parent today: It’s massive anti-Christian influences such as the media, consumerism and many of today’s political ideas. Catholic parents and teachers, now more than ever, need to realise that living and passing on the Catholic faith is essentially counter-cultural

Once parents are awakened to the realities of how our society is under such major influences, it will be easier for them to recognise and confidently reject the things, regarded as normal by society, that are actually totally anti Christian. This takes a lot of courage and is much easier to achieve as a community than as individuals.

6. Clericalists Despise the Primary Educator.

Finally, there is one other extremely disturbing issue. I have come across members of the clergy, religious, and even catechists that do not recognise parents as the child’s primary educators. They do not believe in educating and empowering the parents to fulfil their role, but instead feel that it is their job. This goes directly against the teachings of the church and I would recommend people to be extremely vigilant of any type of children’s catechesis that does not directly involve the parents. Parent-less catechesis is only adding to the problem. If you ever come across this issue, you might want to show the people involved this section of Gravissimum Educationis:

“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbour.  Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellow men and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people.” - Para. 3 Gravissimum Educationis

Come on Bishops! Wake up, admit your past mistakes, and DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS CRISIS!!!

 

 

Originally posted on Catholic Parent - Understand, Live, Transmit.:

So this is how we celebrated All Hallow’s, All Saints and All Souls this year…

All Hallow’s we made pumpkin soup and served it in a pumpkin. We made mini pumpkin jellies out of oranges:

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We carved really cool pumpkins:

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And the kids enjoyed giving out sweets and doughnuts to the Trick or Treater’s in our road. Annabel (5) was so excited doing this she opened the door and exclaimed “Hello Zombies! We. Are. English. People.” !! It took a while for her to grasp the fact that people weren’t coming to the door to give us sweets, but hey – she enjoyed herself!

On All Saints we firstly went to Mass, then chose our saints for the year and made saint cookies:

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Therese of Lisieux

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Faustina, Kolbe, Anthony, Pio, Therese.

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Our Lady of Fatima.

We had heavenly home made pumpkin pie:

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Then we played the long awaited All Saint’s Bingo!!!

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