Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas Break

Are you on break as well? Is this a good time to get in a little R&R? Or maybe this could be a great time to connect with the college kids or the HS kids while they have a school break.

If you need the break, take it. But if you have a lot of down time (don't have Rel Ed or parish Christmas responsibilities, etc) take time to do some relational ministry. Relax with some kids and their parents and families. I always find the effort pays off.

Narnia:What Do You Think?

Has anyone seen Narnia who has not already read the books? I have read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe several times so I knew what was going to happen. I knew who each of the characters represented in CS Lewis fashion so I was unable to see the movie fresh.

I'm wondering of Aslan came across as I know him to be-if the Witch appeared to represent who---well, you get my drift. Did anyone see the movie without readihg the books? What did you think?

BTW I have seen a few movie versions of Narnia. I think it was a BBC version that came out about 10 years ago. That one was pretty good. I liked this one as well. Thought the kids did a great job.

Sore Throat Syndrome

I have had colds that lasted forever-you know, drippy nose, rattle in the throat. But I have never had a sore throat last this long! I got sick before Christmas and made it home to see the folks and still I'm taking cold medicine and sucking on losenges.

Seems the computers at work are sick as well. They are down and only work occasionally. can't wait til they are fixed! Argh!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Catechesis v Emotional Response: Stanley Tookie Williams

I'll admit: I like talk radio. I get annoyed with Rush, and I work so I don't catch him that often. However, the other night I was on my way to dinner with friends when I caught the Sean Hannity Show. He had on two black ministers whose names I forgot. They were debating the issue of whether or not Mr Williams should get the death penalty.

Generally many of us consider ourselves to lean towards the Republican Party, mostly because the Democrat party has pro-abortion advocacy on it's platform. Myself and my friends and a great deal of the blog community tends to vote as such, though we will take issue with the GOP here and there. But this issue puts us on the other side of the fence and gives us some strange bedfellows, like Hollywood.

See, for Catholics, giving the thumbs up to capital punishment is something we are remiss to do. Our faith doesn't outright say that we cannot use capital punishment, but as John Paul II says in Evangelium Vitae: The Gospel Of Life execution is only appropriate "in cases of absolute necessity, in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society".

Our Catechism tells us

2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
(emphasis added)

In short, legitimate authority (the state, let's say) has the right to inflict punishment that is proportionate to the crime. Assuming we are positive about their guilt the Church won't exclude the death penalty but only if this is the ONLY possible way of defending safety. However since we have systems in place to keep these people away from society, execution is "practically nonexistent". And lets not leave out the line "without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself".

Because we have systems already in place to keep killers out of society we cannot say with surety that the death penalty is the only means of keeping society safe from killers. We also, as Christians HAVE to take in to consideration and the reality that even killers can have a change of heart. Even the most vile of criminals can be converted.

Does this mean we let them back out into society? No. They have broken trust severely with society and their debt must be paid. But with their life? Without possibility that a day from now, a month from now, even 10 years from now they might have a conversion to the Heart of Christ and repent of their sins? This is justice?

It tends to slide into an emotional issue. I don't agree with the Hollywood bleatings that he had paid his debt already by renouncing his gang life. I don't agree with the Governor or Sean Hannity that the only way to make a safe society is to kill our killers.

Issues on life must be consistent. They must be reasonable. They must be taught. They must be lived. They must be proclaimed. Tonight, at your religious Ed classes instruct the kids. Talk about it at Youth Group. Strike up a conversation with the kids at school. Teach them. Proclaim the Truth.

Catechism Entry
Evangelium Vitae: The Gospel of Life
Great Article

There is a lot to talk about on this topic. If you are responsible for Catechesis in your work or if you are one of the teachers, read up on the Church and the Death Penalty. Apply your mind to the text!!!

3rd of 8: The Ministry of Catechesis

It's time for another post on one of the 8 Components of Catholic Youth Ministry. Sometimes I'm stuck as to how to best flesh out these components: But not today.

I was working out at the gym today and CNN was on the tube. The latest story was on Stanley "Tookie" Williams and the fact that Governor Schwarzenegger had denied clemency for him.

But we'll get to that in the next post.

The reason I chose "Catechesis" and not, say "Justice and Service" was because issues like this always demand that we use our God-given reasoning to figure out the answers and not our emotions. Catechesis is exactly the tool we use to engage the intellect with the mind of God.

Renewing the Vision states "The Ministry of Catechesis also helps young people enrich and expand their understanding of the Scriptures and the sacred tradition and their application to life today and live more faithfully as disciples of Jesus Christ in their daily lives..." (p.29).

Catechesi Tradende , the document of Pope John Paul II on Catechesis is chock full of excellent quotes. In the opening he says "The Church has always considered catechesis one of her primary tasks, for, before Christ ascended to his Father after his Resurrection, he gave the Apostles a final command--to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe all that he had commanded". This always struck me as odd-Catechesis as on of her primary tasks? I thought, say, loving others and being obedient were primary.

But if we don't know the Truth, how can we be obedient to it? How can we love what we do not know? How can we bring others into a love that we have absolutely no understanding of?

So Catechesis is primary in our work.
"Very soon the name of catechesis was given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ."

But it is not our name that others have life. It is not our opinions of the Church that is authentic Catechesis. I love this line:
"Christocentricity in catechesis also means the intention to transmit not one's own teaching or that of some other master, but the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Truth that he communicates or, to put it more precisely, the Truth that he is."

The 70's and 80's even the 90's gave us a lot of Religious Educators Opinions, but little else. My parents even sent me to a Christian school instead of the local Catholic school so that I'd get at least somewhat of a Christian education (I have a great understanding of Scripture!).

What I'm getting at is that anyone that we teach deserves to have the full Truth given to them. We don't have the right to replace the Truth that "He Is" with anything else. I like to tell people that it doesn't really matter what I believe. It just so happens that I am able to give witness to the Truths professed in our Faith.

Back to RTV: The framework also recognizes that catechesis will be an ongoing event-or at least should be. Recognized is the need to develop catechetical curriculum for different levels of development. Notice I didn't say water down anything to make it palatable. But making the immense Mystery of Jesus Christ is available to us. He revealed the Father to us. We need to do the same for the kids.

For more information, visit these websites:
Cathechesi Tradendea: Catechesis in Our Time
The General Directory of Catechesis

Friday, December 09, 2005

Apply Your Mind To The Text!

I get so frustrated when I hear Catholics or Christians with whom I agree with in principal totally blow it when they go to argue those principals.

Folks, the world does not think like us! We cannot take our Catechisms into a wordly debate and say "See?! Because it says so!".

I had a professor in college who, when I'd ask "why" would say "Because that's the way it is". Eventually I quit going to class and only showed up for the tests, resulting in dour looks from this professor everytime our paths crossed. I was annoyed because I wanted to know WHY. I wanted an intelligent answer to my questions. I should be able to expect this at the University level. (My other classes were much better, never fear).

So when I came across this article from Your Catholic Voice I was delighted. If we are going to win the culture wars we have to trust in the sensibility of truth. We have to use our intellect and words wisely so as to change minds and hopefully change hearts.

I used to have another professor who would never take dumb questions. In this class, there definately were "dumb questions". He would bellow at us "Apply your mind to the text!" That is-use your brain dufus. Think about it. Make use of that God given gift called a thinker, a reasoner!!

This article from YCF is about the abortion debate. If you have a lesson on morals, particularly on abortion, this would be a great backbone to the lesson. Of course, you may have to do some of your own homework, but this debate teachers' words ring true:

"Do yourself a favor. Find a way, in one sentence, one sentence that neutralizes your opponent's position, and states your position in a way that cannot be misunderstood. At most use two sentences. Then use an illustration than cannot be misunderstood. But force yourself to talk less and communicate more. Use a statement. Ask a question. Make a comparison, but talk less, and communicate more. No one, and I mean no one is going to remember one point that your team made today. If facts and figures mattered, there would be no debate."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dissident This!

There are bozos out there who just waited for his death so that they could get their revenge. Didn't like him saying you were wrong? Just wait 'til he dies!

Advent: Prepare Ye The Way

Hey. How is your advent going? Are you taking time to deepen your own walk with the Lord? Regardless of how crazy liturgy commitee is messing around with things can you put that out of your mind and sit and prepare for the Lord's coming?

I think one of the greatest dangers Youth Ministers face is that it can be really easy to be undisciplined because our schedules are so random! No two days look alike! You might have to at work by 9am (gasp!) for the staff meeting one day and then the next not show up until 1pm because you have a meeting or Religious Ed that will last you until 9 or 10pm. Then you go home and crash and watch tv for awhile and fall into bed.

When did you pray?

Last weekend we sang a Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord song. For the first time this year it struck me to prepare the way in others' hearts was my calling. That is, what can I do to help others' hearts be open and ready for the Lord? I was really excited as it meant that I wouldn't be navel gazing for once!

What has your advent been like? Are you able to enter in outside of the prayer services that you lead with the 7th graders?

World Youth Day: Sydney

They have their site up. Sorta...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Pope John Paul II: The Movie

I debated whether or not I was going to watch the CBS 2 part movie on the life of Pope John Paul II, and my curiousity got the better of me.

Let me first say that I am hesitiant about any dramtization on him so soon after his departure from this life. I think that there is so much to his life and work and his philosophy and leadership changed the world for generations to come-I just believe it's a little early to be making bio-pics about him.

I was also prepared to be disappointed greatly. Call is cynicism, but whenever the American Media tried to show the Church they generally do a shoddy job of it. That or they make some subtle changes or nuances that seem just bad.

However this movies was not put together by the American media. Lux Vide was the producer of it. From their site:

After I got through my sobbing (I know it's not him but any look alike or pictures of Papa and I have to admit I still become overwhelmed-I know, I know, he's in Heaven, I can talk to him anytime now-which is great because now I don't have to buy a ticket to Italy!) I settled in to more objectively watch the presentation.

What struck me most is how innocent and exceptional the scenes of him as a young priest were portrayed. I mean, here is a young priest out on an excursion with other young people, lounging around and chatting-and there is NO sense of shame, of impropriety, or scandal. I say this not because of anything the late Holy Father had to hide, but because of the heightened sensitivity everyone has to priests spending casual time with young people in this post-Scandal time. It was well crafted and even inspiring.

I also enjoyed the scenes in the Vatican when they were voting. The Cardinals were never portrayed as the mean spirited, womanhating power hungry hierarchy that they often are in Hollywood, but it was a bit of an education for those who do not know what happens in those meetings. It was cool to see an Eastern rite Bishop (Cardinal?) as well as a variety of nationalities shown: Yes everybody, the Church is worldwide...

I may be lone in saying this, but I really enjoyed watching Cary Elwes play the young Karol Wojtywa. A departure from his sketchy or goofy characters I thought his portrayal was believable, mostly in the scenes where the Pope is portrayed as thinking or caring deeply about someone or something. It wasn't outstanding acting, but I thought it was pretty good given the material.

Which, let's face it folks: There is way more in this life than can be portrayed in 2 nights of drama. They picked out scenes from his life and made them chock full of information. Words that may not have been spoken at that scene were included to make full use of his life and his philosphies. If you want a complete rendering of JPII's life on DVD, get George Weigels' "Witness To Hope". PBS played it a few times (I know, huh? How did THAT happen?) and it is worth the money to buy. Excellent, just excellent.

As for the other actors, I loved seeing Christopher Lee on screen again (though I had just been watching him as Sauron in The Two Towers and my brain had to revise what I was seeing) I absolutely hated seeing James Cromwell play Sapieha. I must have seen him play under handed, backstabbing jerks, because I just couldn't shake the feeling that he was up to something sinister-and Sapieha wasn't sinister.

They did manage to slip in a great deal of JPII's words and I was astounded that they included his words on sexuality. And then release it here in the States? That's brave. Bold. Good stuff.

It seems that they took important scenes and stuffed them full of info. I suppose with a life like John Paul II's, they could be forgiven the attempt to cram it all in.

Overall, I would rate it about a B+. Let's see what tonight brings!

Friday, December 02, 2005

If You're Interested

I updated my profile. I'm trying to be accessable without revealing my true identity. There are still some details that still need protection. *sigh*