Just read a brief, commonsensical article on catechesis.
Made me revisit my theory on catechizing youth. Treat it like a seller's market, not the buyer's market we have been used to since 1965 or whenever.
Treat it like you have something precious and if people aren't willing to work for it, they can go away.
It's like Air Jordans for black people.
Or like a pumkin spice lattes for white people.
Limited time, be prepared to line up for it, looking to give it to a good home, etc.
If you believe your product is good, and the Catholic Faith is more than good, then act out of that belief.
More than a few years ago I was running the religion program at a church and was teaching the confirmation class myself. The kids were not good students. They talked continuously, fooled around, etc. I threatened, etc., and nothing seemed to work for long, and so I finally kicked the three worst out of the program. I told them they could come back if they wrote me an apology letter, signed by them and by their parents.
Wow, Colin, you're just like the guy from the movie Lean on Me - the no-nonsense black principal who turned that bad inner-city school around.
Yes, that's exactly what happened...
Actually, within a few weeks I was unemployed.
Of course, the brats I disciplined happened to be the pastor's 'yes-father' women in the parish.
Years later, still reeling from my sad discovery about how people really are, even people who tell you they will act one way if such-and-such occurs, but who end up doing the exact opposite, I guess I really hadn't learned my lesson and found myself in another position of authority over children. I knew enough about this to decide never become a school teacher, but obviously not enough to avoid all like occasions.
The new position was one where I took a far more patient and gentle approach. That wasn't good enough for certain elements who thought I wasn't harsh enough. I knew, however, that as soon as I started to severely discipline the kids, I would be out. It's a no-win situation. I know that now, completely, finally.
But because a layman is completely without any dependable support doesn't mean priests and bishops should allow things to go this way. Priests can't get fired, nor bishops. Massive financial corruption and abuse/neglect of children notwithstanding. In every other way, priests and bishop are absolute monarchs. Therefore, they should use their authority to back-up this seller's market policy.
My own pastor acts this way to a significant extent. He is one of the only priests I know who is widely hated for his discipline of the sacraments. He is doing exactly what he should be doing. The writer of the above-cited article said that 75% of the kids she teaches are future ex-Catholics. She is correct. I say act with that knowledge in mind. If they are going to move away, make it be because of hate, not indifference. If their experience of the Faith led to indifference, that is the greatest of failures. You didn't give them anything to love or to hate. Leaving with hate, is a victory.
There is someone I know who won't go to Church anymore because our pastor would not confirm her grandchild. Why not? Because the parents only occasionally go to church and told him they had no intention of going every week. That is better than no longer going to church because you don't see a church that really believes in anything.
Love us or hate us, just don't be indifferent.
Therefore, if kids are not perfect, exactly as you want them to be in catechism, kick them out. I mean this more for teenagers than for very young kids.
Someone I know who works in the car industry once told me that the customer is not always right, well, unless, that is, they are willing to pay. They want it in red? Well, the nearest red one is in Montreal, so that'll cost you an extra $700. You want your brat confirmed? Well, that'll cost you this, this and this. Marriage? This, this and this.
Cheap grace is grace ignored.
If we act like this is important, others might actually take it as seriously as we hope they will.
If you give a Nobel Prize to a guy the moment he walks into the White House you have irreparably cheapened your currency.
Every one gets a prize? Well, then, that's not much of a prize.
If I ever get a Math degree (which I hope to before I die) I want it to be as hard as sh** to get, so that I know I have accomplished something significant.
The school at which I used to teach started to award the valedictorian to the popular kid, not the one with the highest GPA. Thus, I could no longer care about it.
A certain one of my kids brings home a report card with all As. Ho hum. Another gets a B+ on a history test - yahoo! Hard work. An accomplishment.
Victories like Vimy Ridge are great
because they implied appalling sacrifice like this
Just because something is hard does not make it good, but we cannot appreciate anything that came easily, that was simply given away.
Christians have always treated the sacraments like the dear and precious things they are. Until now.
Forty years of catering to the 75% who leave the Church has led to 75% leaving the Church. What do we have to lose by showing them the door a little earlier?
No one ever wants anything as badly as when you say they can't have it.