Frank discussions, advice, and opinions from a Catholic Director of Religious Education.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Catholic Word of the Week: Halloween Edition

Demonology: Science or doctrine concerning demons (malevolent, evil beings bent on the destruction of human souls). In the Nicene Creed, the Catholic Church professes her belief in angels and demons (I believe in one God...maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible). Fallen angels, referred to as demons, were permitted to retain their superior intellects, powers and faculties despite their choice to rebel against God. If you believe that you or another person are under demonic attack, please contact a Catholic priest. In the meantime, St. Michael is the great angelic warrior and defender of Christians.

  St Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 9)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 148)

1.Jesus-Ween? This seems like a good way to get your house egged...

I think these people have good intentions, but there needs to be a happy middle point. I'm not sure where that is, but I have a funny feeling that it lies between slutty cat costumes and awkward evangelizing efforts. Maybe dressing up as a saint? (AFTER their conversion)  

2. Speaking of Halloween, Eddie will be Yoda on Monday. I'm even putting him in his baby back-pack carrier (think "Empire Strikes Back") and bringing a little glowing "light saber". It's going to be awesome. 

"Change my diaper, you will..."

3. On an unrelated note, Blogger stinks. I ALWAYS struggle to put pictures or video in and the controls have been freezing a lot lately. Most of the time, Blogger either won't respond or does something stupid like push my text 50 lines down. Any ideas?

4.  I can't believe it's almost November. I heard the other day we might get some flurries within the week. I'm what you'd call an "inside" husband, but even I'm dreading winter. Minnesota winters are awful. You could go for months on end without showing any skin, and that's just inside your home. Don't even think of going outside unless you want to lose your favorite digits.  

5. I wanted a hover board SOOOOOO bad. When I first saw it in Back to the Future, I thought I was going to explode if I didn't get one soon. It was the coolest thing next to a light saber.  

6. Conscience? No, you don't need to worry about that. The government will make sure everything is fair. You know, like how they do in Britain with foster care and cafe owners.

7. I'm going to steal from George at Convert Journal. I really liked his inclusion of a quote in his quick takes, so I'm going to include one this week that seems to keep appearing for me. 

 “Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is.
Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.” -G.K. Chesterton 

Also, special thanks to Jen for the information about when to post this at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Dear Demons: Lust

By: Satan

Junior Tempters, I’d like to speak about a subject close to my heart today: Lust. No doubt, you’ve all been schooled in the general idea, but I want to focus on the real point of this great sin.

The Enemy has made both objects and people. He wants His creatures to both enjoy using the objects they have and to love one another. He considers this "good". Our job is to reverse the order He began. Make your teen love objects and use people. That is the purpose of Lust.

Lust helps us to turn the opposite sex into an object, and not just in the obvious way! When this sin is embraced by your teens, it carries over into everything else. Parents become tools to get things instead of a mother and father to love. Friends are chosen based on what they have and the poor and weak are ignored. Yes, push Lust, my denizens, and you will see the world become a store, communities become a marketplace and people become commodities!

                                -Non Serviam, Satan

Satan's column ("My Dear Demons: Advice for Junior Tempters") appears in monthly editions of Ed's Youth Group Newsletter. To submit a question to Satan, leave a comment below.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Catholic Word of the Week (October 24, 2011)

Aggiornamento: Updating. Specifically, under Pope John XXIII, the word carried two distinct meanings: 1) internal renewal and 2) external adaptation of Church law and institution to the times. As a result, this word is connected to the Second Vatican Council which Pope John XXIII called.

Bonus Word:

            Zeitgeist: Spirit of the times.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 8)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 146)

1. My wife won't shut up about knitting socks. (She said to write that. Really.) She's knitting socks for my brother-in-law (Christmas) and they look really nice. She says its..."fair isle" knitting? I don't know what that means, but apparently she's never done it before and is very excited.

2. Eddie said his first word yesterday: "Da Da." My wife is trying to convince me he isn't really saying anything (just noises), but I'm not buying it. I said "Da Da?" and he responded "Da Da".  Done deal. He's also really getting into imitation. We're having a lot of fun asking him questions and getting him to shake his head "no." Maybe too much fun...

3. I had an important lesson about quality and quantity the other day. I had been preparing for a "Minute to Win It" youth group night for the middle school kids and only a handful actually came. I was a little annoyed, but decided to make the best of it. The kids seemed to really have a wonderful night, though, and I think they got a lot from it. At the end of the night, we went into the church (completely dark except for candles) and thanked God for everything He'd done for us. When I finished leading the prayer, I expected the kids to get up and start heading for the door, but they stayed and silently kept vigil with the Lord. After a few minutes I excused myself to clean up and the kids chose, on their own, to stay a little while longer in the front of the tabernacle in silent prayer. How wonderful!

4. I am still far from excited about my presidential options. I think my pastor hit it on the nose. He told me he sat down to watch some t.v. the other day and really needed a comedy. He was pleasantly surprised when he saw that Saturday Night Live was on and decided to watch their presidential debate parody. After a few minutes, he realized it was the actual debate! That about sums up my feelings too. Obama obviously needs to be out. He is the most radically anti-life, anti-religious liberty president we've ever had, but that doesn't mean his competition is that great either.

5. Speaking of anti-liberty policies, this hermit cannot accept donations. We are coming into a time of greater persecution. I don't know how the health care mandates forcing Catholics to go against their conscience will work out, but I know it is only the tip of the iceberg. The solution? Pray for our leaders. Radically live the gospel. History has shown us that the Church generally benefits from such things. My view? The more pressure that is applied, the more Christian denominations will grow closer together and become stronger for it.

6. Off to work in a moment. I am going to try to create some events for catechists to continue their own religious education and get some time apart from the kids. I think we'll have the youth group provide child care and cater a decent dinner. I'll have to check the budget.

7. I am actually up early enough to where I think this could be first (or very close) on the Conversion Diary list. Wow.

UPDATE: Per number seven, how early are you people getting up? Goodness.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Be Nice

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well." -Matthew 5:38-39

I am prideful. When someone verbally strikes me, my first thought is often "how badly can I hurt them back." Thanks be to God, this impulse is receding. Recently, I've had some experience with personal attacks and I was suddenly struck with a long ago memory of Roadhouse, through which I think God was talking to me. Enjoy. (Warning: Some explicit language)

  Yes, Patrick Swayze is God in this analogy. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Catholic Word of the Week (October 17th, 2011)

Communion of Saints: The unity and co-operation of the members of the Church on earth with those in heaven and in purgatory. In other words, death has no dominion over the Mystical Body of Christ. Those Christians who have entered into heaven continue to aid their brethren on earth by way of their prayers. Christians on earth honor the saints in heaven and aid one another and the souls in purgatory through prayer and works of mercy.  Souls in purgatory, remaining in the Body of Christ and being ever more purified, continue to benefit from the prayers and works offered for them and, according to some Doctors of the Church, offer prayers for the world.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why do our children leave the Church?

Mary's Aggies has a great post about why young people leave the Christian faith. It all centers around a recent five year research project conducted by the Barna Group. The study highlights six main themes cited by youth for leaving their faith behind. They have some great analysis, but I just wanted to highlight two of the themes myself.

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.

I've been saying it over and over. STOP. WATERING. DOWN. THE. FAITH. Young people want to be challenged. They want something to rebel against. They know something is terribly wrong in the world and they aren't fooled by the happy-clappy catechesis they've been getting. I'm not saying we do away with crafts and break out the nun's discipline rulers, but I am saying we need to start teaching the whole of our faith and we need to do so in a way that emphasizes dynamic formation and real world application (including relationships with peers).

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
 Again, we need to start teaching the truth. I think we tend to fall into one of two major errors. The first is that we shriek in fear whenever our kids encounter another religion or philosophy. We don't engage these ideas (when applicable), but quarantine them. The second error occurs when we pretend other faiths (or even denominations) are exactly the same and there are no differences. This is exactly how we get Buddhist poetry read at Mass. Niether of these errors is in keeping with the truth and so niether of these errors can ever be truly loving. In the words of G.K. Chesterton: "Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind." We have to accept the truth that there are real and serious differences between faiths, but that doesn't mean we can't love each other and be decent human beings.

Catholic Word of the Week (October 10, 2011)

Dormition: The feast of the falling asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also known as the Assumption of Mary, this feast is celebrated August 15th and is a Holy Day of Obligation (unless it falls on a Saturday or Monday). Assumption is a more fitting term for the feast since it celebrates not only the end of Mary's earthly life, but the fact that she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 7)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 146)

1. First, this guy is awesome!

2. We had our first Whole-Community Catechesis night this past Wednesday. Our subject was "The Moral Life in Christ" and it went really well (with the exception that I ordered too much food). Our K-5 session used a mosaic craft to show how each of the choices we make throughout the day form a picture for God. That picture shows God who we really love and where we want to be. The parents and kids really seemed to like it and we gave the extra food to a local charity so, all in all, I count it as a success.

3. Do Ghost's Exist? Sort of. This Sunday we are having our first "Theology on Pop" discussion session for the year. We have about 15-20 high school students coming to learn about Ghosts, Hauntings, Demons, Heaven and Hell. Fun stuff, right? I had so many kids ask me last year about "Ghost Hunters" that I thought this would be prudent. Also, I've worked in a bonus for myself by having a section of the day devoted to debunking astrology and new age beliefs! I am giving each of the kids a personalized astrology "reading" (pre-typed with their name and birth date from their registration forms). What the kids don't know is that everyone has the same thing. The idea, of course, is to show them that their "reading" is so general it could apply to anyone.

4. My mother-in-law is coming for a visit. And I'm really excited. We haven't seen family for a few months (most live in North Carolina or Virginia) and it's going to be nice for her to see how big Eddie has gotten. Also, BABYSITTER! We're taking the youth group to an amusement park next Saturday and now my wife and I can chaperone with Mimi watching Eddie. Win, Win, Win.

5. My parents had their 30th wedding aanniversary. With marriage in the state it's in throughout the country, this is really something to be celebrated. I know in Minnesota we are facing a marriage amendment vote next fall and our Bishops are really trying to get people informed on this subject,but if we fail and marriages continues to degrade I'm not sure how many more 30th anniversary's we'll be seeing.

6. Cheesy Jokes.

What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground Beef

What is brown and sticky? A stick

7. Finally, this guy is awesome too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Didache Series

I've posted previously about the Didache series, but I really want to say again how wonderful these books are. (I DO NOT work for Ignatius Press or profit from this, by the way.) We use the Introduction to Catholicism text for our 9th and 10th grade students, but I've looked through the other editions and they are all top tier. 

Each chapter references the catechism and has a saint's story at the end, but I think my favorite part of this series is the way in which it asks students to engage the material. It often uses scenarios that force students to think about real world apologetics and there are plenty of great discussion questions for applying the lessons.  All in all, this is one of the best series for high school students I've seen and it's a great buy if you're looking.    

Monday, October 3, 2011

Catholic Word of the Week (October 3, 2011)

Eschatology: Study of the four last things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell. Purgatory is not one of the four last things because its existence is only temporary. Purgatory is a state of purification for souls on their way to Heaven. Once the last soul leaves purgatory, it will cease to exist.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sleep Out to Fight Youth Homelessness

Last night we had our 2nd annual "Sleep Out" night. Basically, this is the main event for a fundraising drive by local churches to raise money to help young people who are stranded or kicked out of their homes. We sleep outside in cardboard box "camps" to raise awareness and increase solidarity with our homeless brothers and sisters. I'm dead tired, but I'm really glad we went. We had some good prayer time, a few snacks, live music and several fires to combat the cold. All in all, about one hundred kids showed up for various denominations and we raised about $1,600.