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.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Let's Talk About Sex, Bay-Bee

"Let's talk about you and me" Anyone remember that song from the 80's?

Today it's "It's gettin' hot in here, ..." amongst other such songs.

About this time of year the parish RelEd program does Chastity talks. We have really worked hard to make sure that each year the kids don't hear the same thing-"oh no. We're doing that again?" Nothing like repitition to make them tune out-especially on a topic that gets sung about in their IPods, but they play like they don't want to talk about it.

But I think that they do.

I have run into people that think that talking about sex should only be done in the home. If all the homes were able to do this and able to pass on the Church's teaching about sex, fine. I still see the parish as a resource to the family, but many parents neglect their duty to let their kids know what morality is and how freeing the Church teaching on sex is-yes, even in regards to birth control!

I have a lot of resources that I'm going to start posting on the side. I think it's smart to be up front about the topic and not shy away from their questions. I may even make it a special topic on the right side. If you have some excellent resources email them to me.

This is one that just came to me today:

It looks great-lots of information. Check them out, let me know if it's helpful.

Friday, February 24, 2006

It's Dan Brown, Stupid!

A great resource, a must have for every single parish:
Mark Shea in an interview with Zenit:

"Once you understand Brown's game, you start to realize that it is Brown -- not the Catholic faith -- that is taking people for a ride. "

Q: What compelled the writing of this book?

The longer answer is that "The Da Vinci Code" has become the source for what I call "pseudo-knowledge" about the Christian faith.Pseudo-knowledge is that stuff everybody knows," such as the "fact" that Humphrey Bogart said "Play it again, Sam" -- except he didn't. Pseudo-knowledge doesn't matter much when the issue is the script of "Casablanca."

It matters greatly when it adversely affects the most sacred beliefs of a billion people, and when it levels the charge that the Catholic Church is essentially a vast "Murder Incorporated" network founded on maintaining the lie of Jesus' divinity and resurrection...Those who say, "It's just a story," simply do not understand that this deception is part of the book's power. People often receive through fiction what they would be on guard against in reasoned debate.

And in true Mark Shea humor: " The best cure for "The Da Vinci Code" is, in the end, hearty gales of well-informed laughter"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Project Dominic

I recently came across a nifty bunch whose goal is:
Inspired by St. Dominic's all-night conversation with an Albigensian innkeeper that ended with the Albigensian's return to the Church, Project Dominic seeks to engage those who disagree with the Roman Catholic Church, consider their perspectives and arguments carefully and thoughtfully, and respond charitably.

They'd be great for resources and pod casts as well, I believe. I put their banner on my site below. Click on it to see more about them.

Sweet Jesus

I recently decided to go to a Sports Medicine doctor to deal with some pain that I have been having in my knees and feet.

I finally decided it was time to go when, during daily Mass (in our very quiet chapel) I'm walking up to communion and my knees are louder than the priest saying "Body of Christ". Click-click, click-click...all the way up. That and shopping in my wonderful boots over Christmas caused me to sit every 20 minutes or so...that might have something to do with it.

So I get x-rayed and examined. It's determined that the outside muscle of my upper leg is quite tight and the one inside is less so, causing my kneecap to shift sideways to the left randomly. That's especially fun when I'm coming down stairs. Does anyone else have the feeling that their kneecap is about to fall off?

I went in for my first appointment the other day. OH MY LORD. Sweet Jesus.

We went through the routine questions (because the doctor's notes from a week ago have not yet been attached to my file) and we start "therapy".

The first thing that the PT does it hook me up to this machine. Let me remind you that this is on my upper leg, a place I don't normally shave in the cold winter months. He sticks two sticky pads to my leg and says "You are going to feel something".

That was an understatement. Of the year.

At first it was like cute little ants walking on my leg, then small pin pricks then NAILS COURSING THROUGH MY MUSCLE. This "PT" watches me for a "reaction". I'm reacting! He's trying to determine what level to keep it at. All I know is I keep hearing him say "one more...ok one more...ok... one more". Sir, one more means: ONE MORE. Not several more.

So we're at level 16 and he tell me "if it were a lot higher you'd be in pain". Really? "Ok, this is going to go on for 10 seconds and then off for 20. During the 10 you need to lift and lower your leg and then rest during the 20". Is he for real?? Move? With this jarring going on?

Suddenly I feel the electric pulse start. It is like a car engine, it starts and 0 and then zooms up to 16. I'm never quite ready for that charge. I'm gripping the sides of the table and desparetly trying to move my leg up and down. For 20 blessed seconds I relax. Then it starts again. zzzZZZZZZZIP! up it starts again.

"OK, we're gonna set it for 18 minutes" WHAT? "I'll check back and see how you're doing". See how I'm doing? Will this electronic charge give me a heart attack or just the unexpected rush that comes every 20 seconds??

18 torturous minutes later (I became an expert at counting 10 and 20 seconds) he comes back and says "Ok, now we're going to do some exercises".

Yeah, right.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Justice and Service

ok, enough goofin off. Back to youth ministry! Yeah!

Today's lesson (I feel like a teacher or something) is on Justice and Service.

Every orthodox, semi-conservative minister just did a shudder, didn't they? Why is it that everytime we hear these words we think "Tree Huggers!!"? I heard a very smart man on a radio program say once that the left has hijacked social justice and the right has hijacked pro-life work. When one side hears about the other they do this roll of the eyes and shudder.

Well, folks, they belong to both and I'm going to talk about Justice and Service:

We cannot call ourselves followers of Jesus unless we take up his mission of bringing "good news to the poor, liberty to captives, and new sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18) -Communities of Salt and Light,p. 3
Yes the poorest of the poor in our country IS the unborn. However there are thousands of the born who are in need of care. Furthermore, there are thousands of youth who need to learn to go beyond themselves and care for their neighbor:

-engages young people in discovering the call to justice and service in the Scriptures
-involves (them) actions of direct efforts to address the causes of injustice and inequity
-develops promoting gospel values in their lifestyles and choices
-incorporates doing the right thing with attention to why and how we do what we do (includes involvement, exploration, reflection and action)
-involves a supportive community that builds a sense of togetherness
-nurtures a lifelong commitment to service and justice involvement
-from Renewing the Vision, 1997

I am strong opposed to telling kids in a Confirmation program "You have so many hours of service. Go do them and tell me what you did". Are you kidding me? Where is the "sense of togetherness" where is the reflection, where is the developing of assetss and faith??

When I worked in Southie, the Director did it briliantly and I will always do it this way:

We had a day each week dedicated to a service project. We did 3 a month and always went together as a group. At the end of each time we did "Mad, Glad Sad".

So, for instance, I have set up a couple of places where the Confirmation kids can come to all at the same time. We arrive at the Nursing home on a Saturday morning and I do a prayer and short introduction. I let them know that they will smell, see and hear things that they'd really rather not, but my challenge is to ask God to give you the courage and grace to walk into that residents' room and engage them in conversation, talk to them about their life, spend time with them and let them experience the dignity of being human and cared for.

We always did it as a community, as a group, because there are some kids who jump right in and do it and some kids who are scared to death. Solution? Put those kids together. When we work together we can support one another and help each other grow.

Why did I pick the places? Because I refuse to call dog grooming or yard raking Justice. Or Service. Some parents complained that their kids weren't outgoing, or wondered why they couldn't use their talents to serve where they wanted to.

Why? Because Justice and Service are not about us. Certainly there is so much need in the world that we can almost pick and choose what works for us, where we feel most comfortable. However, this being their Confirmation prep time I believe very strongly that they need to see that service IS ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. If your brother is in need, you help pick up THEIR cross. You don't say "Oh, wait for someone who can do that kind of work" (like those who passed by the man in the story of the Good Samaritan). No, we need to respond to others' needs, not our own. (Think St Francis and the Leper. Hello? Are we called to anything less?)

At the end of every service opportunity we gather for the last 10 minutes for reflection. We always circle up so that everyone can see each other and share if our experience made us "Mad, Sad or Glad". I found that giving them those words helped them think about what was going through their minds as they served. And they weren't alwasy glad-and sometimes kids would say that they were mad that they had to be there. Good! Cry me a river! That's exactly the kid that I wanted there!

So, in closing, we are ALL responsible for our brothers and sisters. As youth ministers we need to develop in the youth a sense of thinking about others rather than ourselves. There is also ways that you can involve youth in areas of injustice, both globally and locally. Talk about why there are homeless people. Talk about China's human rights violations. Talk about St Francis and the Leper. Talk about what we can do as a Church (not as a government) do ease the sufferings of our neighbor.

"For as you did to the lest of my brothers, you did for me" Matt 25:40

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy St Cyril and Methodius Day!!

Gosh, you know, it's so great so see everyone celebrating a saint day! I mean, what revelry! Candy! Flowers! Romance! (though I'm not sure how that fits in with Cyril and Methodius...)

Ah, so nice.


This is so funny :This is even funnier:

My sister sent me this site of a guy who takes pictures of signs that, well just don't make the grade. Click on the pictures to see more!

Monday, February 13, 2006

You Love What Mass?

Has anyone seen the bumper sticker that says "I <3 the Latin Mass" or I love the Latin Mass-?

I get so annoyed with that. What if I put on my car "I love the Charismatic Mass", boy would a lot of traditionalists get on my case.

I guess what bothers me about it is to me it is divisive: We love THE Mass. A legitmate Mass is a legitimate Mass. Is the priest saying all the things he should and are we doing what we are doing? Chances are it's a legit Mass. You may not like the songs or that the word "he" is treated like the plague when referencing God, but it's still the Mass.

And we all should love "THE Mass".

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Deus Caritas Est: "The best defense of God and man consists precisely in love."

By now, if you are a blog reader, everyone and their brother blogged on the Holy Father's first encyclical. I waited to be "fashionably late", as I believe there are parts of this document that will smack us ministers types right between the eyes, and convict the snot out of us.

Given on the 25th day of December, 2005 (yes released a bit later) is indicitive, I think, of where he plans to go with this. God is Love. God who became human to interact with us, live with us and die for us. God who loves us. Deus Caritas Est.

I won't go into great detail of the whole thing, you can easily read it yourself (a fact I LOVE about Benedict XVI) , but I want to point out a few particular quotes and ask you to reflect on what this means in your own ministerial life. (PS All emphasis mine)

Read this:
We recognize that we are not acting on the basis of any superiority or greater personal efficiency, but because the Lord has graciously enabled us to do so. There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in this end, we are only instruments in the Lord’s hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14). (35)

How many of us fall into the tendancy that every kids' salvation depends on us and our work? That if I just go to their schools enough, or engage this kid or that kid in conversation, I'll be furthering their salvation, if I teach this correctly or expertly put on that program or retreat, their salvation is, gosh, nearly guranteed! Look at the great work that I've done!!

Really? I could have italicized that entire paragraph, it is so good. It is GOD who governs the world, NOT WE! Or the earlier line "...frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are "- - - what? Personally responsible for building a better world? Good gracious, get down off your cross. There is only one Savior and he only allows us to participate in his work at his will.

Here is the solution:
Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to believe in the “goodness and loving kindness of God”. (Titus 3:4). Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, they remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible. (38)

I had the opportunity to give a talk on Burnout. I wish I could give it more often to polish it up, but be that as it may, I think we program and relationship ourselves into Burnout. We do this, we pursue that kid, we may battle the insanity of other parish staff and feel like we are carrying "orthodox Catholicism" on our backs every day, have a tough relationship with the pastor, got yelled at by a mother, and can't stand the poor catechetical material that is still getting published...Youth Ministers© ends up being a home for the insane and burnt out. What we can often miss is that last line which describes the truth about what a Christian is, someone "remain(s) unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible."

And then, as a solid answer to any unasked or unresolved questions:
Faith, hope and charity go together. Hope is practiced through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts God’s mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness. Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Book of Revelation points out, in spite of all darkness he ultimately triumphs in glory. (40)

Good Morning...Confusion

I was late to work the other morning. But it was an honest mistake. Really!

The day before, I had bumped my alarm clock and unknowingly unplugged it. That evening, when I went to plug it back in, I, of course, had to reset the time. So I set it.

The next morning, when my alarm went off I saw that I had a few minutes to roll around. Besides, what if my roomate still needs the bathroom? I can stay in my warm bed for awhile.

...hmmm. That sounds like my roomate on the stairs. Going down the stairs. That sounds like our front door opening and closing. Hm. Why is she going out so early in the morning? I thought she already worked her early shift. Ok. Guess I should shower.

Hm, hm. nice shower. Begin to get ready. Why is it so sunny out? Maybe it's just a sunny morning. Gosh, the sun is nice. A little bright and annoying as I'm trying to do my makeup, sheesh. I need to get shades for this window.

Need coffee. mmm. Love Coffee. Coffee's GUUD. hm, hm. Get to coffee machine, hear other roomate who, generally, isn't up when I make the coffee. That's odd. Get coffee out of freezer, turn towards sink with clock above it and ACK! I'M SUPPOSED TO BE AT WORK IN 20 MINUTES!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TI-


What time did I set my clock for? Who confuses 7 with 8??

Needless to say, it was a bad hair day.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nose In The Kleenex

That's about all you want to know about how I've been feeling the past few days. BTW, have you ever gotten the "Puff plus" tissues and wondered, y'know, which part of your half-used tissue was "soothing mosturized" and which part, uh, wasn't? Hard to tell sometimes. Ew.

Sites To Know

If you're wondering where folks go online, here's a hint.

Check out the sites that are under "Gen Y" and "Hipsters" and you'll have some idea of where your crew is cruisin'. Like I've mentioned before, the and type of sites are big. And you can find out a whole lotta info on them. Whoooolllle lotta.

Pittsburgh...part II

In case you missed it. Or were asleep. Or were out shopping because you don't really care.

I was scared during the first half. Big Ben just wasn't throwing like he had two weeks ago. In fact I was leaning towards voting for this SeaHawks counterpart, Matt Hasselbeck for MVP. At least his throws were aimed better.

At one point Ben barely and I mean barely made it to the endzone. BARELY. But they called it good. Works for us.

End Score: 10-21. Since Seattle really doesn't care about football as much as Pittsburgh, I think it was entirely fitting. Sorry, Seattle. Drink more beer and drink less coffee, then I might cheer for you as an underdog.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pittsburgh's Goin' To The Superbowl

"Here we go, ...Here we go..."

There is this crazy song that is chanted/sung over and over and over and over and over and over again around here. Ok, I like football, but these people LOVE their football and their teams.

There is one song that is over the top. Remember this song from Seseme Street "do-doo d'doo-doo(menominam) . Do-doo d'doo-doo (menominam_. Do-doo d'do-do, d'do'do ...".etc?

Well, they have replaced 'menominam" with Puhlahmahlu (for Troy Puhlahmahlu) along with many many other song for your enjoyment. Really.

Oh and I know all this because our office is having a huge party this afternoon. We're not getting any work done. Why didn't we get beer then? I'm just askin'...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shameless Promotion

I can't believe I'm going to do this. I'm shameless, SHAMELESS I tell you!


Ok, here's the thing, really. While this IS an opinion journal I still want it to be a forum and let others-really other youth ministers-know it's out here, so any free advertising and promotion would be helpful.

SO if you don't nominate me, or then vote for me, at least pass this on to youth ministers. From this past weekend's retreat I firmly believe that I am not the only one who suffers when doing youth ministry. There are a lot of lonely, struggling youth ministers out there. God bless 'em , they don't know the GOLD that they are to the Church.

True For Catholics Too?

I wish I wish I wish that there was better reporting and statistics for Catholic Youth Ministry. I think that when these statisics are taken the Catholic kids don't get asked these questions.

And frankly, I think that there would be vastly different answers.

In this article the National Study of Youth And Religion (website: or NYSR did a study :

Among the study’s most significant findings, two stood out. First, contrary to popular notions fueled by the media, most teens today are not religious “seekers” rebelling against their parents’ religion. Instead, they willingly accompany their parents to church. Second — here’s the troubling part — these teens, even those regularly attending Christian churches and youth groups, are hard-put to articulate the first thing about what they believe. And when coaxed by the study’s 17 trained interviewers, the teens eventually described a religion largely devoid of any notion of Jesus, grace, judgment, salvation, or the cross. Rather, the creed of their faith goes something like this: “God’s out there somewhere, and if you just do what makes you happy and avoid being really bad, you’ll go to heaven when you die.” This faith is characterized by what Smith and Denton call “benign whateverism,” otherwise known as indifference. “MTD is wide open, accepting, and tolerant,” says Smith, “so it fits well with the general whateverism we observed in the youth.”

Well, I totally understand the "whateverism". I mean, we keep telling these kids that there is no one religion with all the answers, no religion is better than the others, this is the group of kids that had to endure the "we give awards to every child so that no one feels left out" garbage-no one or no thing, no religion, no concept of God was worth emulating, recognizing as extraordinary or worthy of pursing and falling in love with. Why WOULD they be interested??

One researcher calls it “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” or MTD:

How has MTD gained such a hold on America’s youth? There appear to be two main culprits: an absence of biblical grounding and an absence of conversations about faith.

What grinds me most is not just that culturally we've spouted the annoying above stuff, but that it seems to be devoid of Catholic sensibility.

It is my firm belief that Catholic youth today are NOT embroiled in this MTD idea. Not when the Franciscan University High School Youth Conferences reach 33,000 kids each year at 15 national youth conferences (and a waiting list a mile long, really) LifeTeen is in 950 parishes globally and 120,000 kids go to weekly LifeTeen Masses, (the majority being in the US), and in a 9-month time period 1 NET TEam of 8 teams-ONE -will " facilitate close to 120 retreats * stay in 105 host homes * reach 8,500 young people one on one with the Gospel "

That's not even talking about all of the youth who are formed being involved in the leadership of these programs.

Hello?? Am I on to something here?

I believe the reason Catholic kids are so on fire is the very reason anyone Catholic is on fire. It is substance. It is depth. It is a physical, intellectual and spiritual reality all in one. It permeates not just Sunday or Wednesday, but EVERY part of our lives, everything we see, everything we do, everything in Creation. We live it in Art, in scholastic works, in our devotions, in our relationships with each other, with other Christians, and with the world, it affects our minds, our hearts, our emotions, our souls...Being Catholic is not about "whatever"

It is about "Ever-y-THING, PERSON, CREATION. It says YES Jesus is worth dying for (saints and martyrs) YES I sin and want to receieve Jesus into me (Sacraments) YES I want to understand this reality (theological and philosophical )

This isn't a faith you can remain "whatever" about. It is a faith that you can't find yourself living without once you've tasted it.

Memed Again

Ms Kelly Clark from The Lady In The Pew memed me-which I was quite delighted. Sometimes she and I spar on stuff but I have the highest regard for her. That I'm even on her radar screen is an honor. (and we only spar on the small stuff, we agree on all the Big Stuff)

So here we go:
What five things would you ask Jesus should you get to Heaven?
Who are the first five people you'd like to see in Heaven?

Five Things I'd Ask:
1. Why do all the Kennedy's die so tragically-and what's up with Eddie?
2. Can I have some of the brew from the Wedding At Cana?
3. What were you thinking with that "Free Will" stuff? Seriously, we don't seem to be handling it all that well...although, when we choose right, it's pretty cool.
4. Can we go see JPII?? I never got to here on earth and now that there's y'know, no time and all I'd like to hang wi' my hero, I mean, second to you Hero, of course.
5. Exactly HOW do prayers work? Do they really "change" things? Why? Why not just do it?

I have no idea who has or had not been memed so I'll just name a few:
Catholic RageMonkey

Patrick at Seize The Day (maybe that will remind him to keep posting. He's so funny sometimes)

Carole at A Light To The Nations

And...The D-Project, another youth ministry blog featured in this weeks' Youth Specialty Update