My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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Keeping Kids Catholic - The Dreher Conversion.

By now it is all over the blogosphere that Rod Dreher, of Crunchy Con fame, has left the Catholic church to become orthodox. His explosive post on this topic has been on and off the web since the end of last week. I found it in full at The Cafeteria is Closed blog.

Rod has a post up now where he sort of takes a deep breath and admits that he knows his reasons were emotional and psychological, and he's basically fine with that. He has an update here.

This part interests me:

I don't deny that reason played a minor role in my conversion. It was primarily emotional and psychological -- but I do deny that that minimizes matters. As I've said, a decade ago, I argued with a friend considering Orthodoxy and Catholicism that all that mattered was doctrinal truth. He said he worried about raising Christian kids in the mess that is US Catholic parish life. I dismissed those concerns, and said he should instead concentrate on the doctrinal arguments. Well, real life -- and having kids of my own -- showed me how brittle that position was, and is. Human beings are not machines. We all have to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, between radical objectivity and radical subjectivity. I used to think that being a Christian was merely a matter of finding the most logical arguments, intellectually assenting to them and doing your best to live by them. It is far more complicated than that, and I found through the scandal my intellect humiliated.

I disagree with that position. In fact, as the mother of six children, with my oldest reaching legal adulthood next summer, I think that finding the logical arguments, intellectually assenting to them and then LIVING THEM is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to raising kids Catholic and keeping them in the faith.

I grew up in the 1970s, came of age in the late 70s and lived my early adult ife in the 1980s. We had all of the touchy, feely, "spiritual," experiential crapola that passed itself off as religion class masquerading under "the spirit of Vatican II." It didn't make us strong Christians or keep us in our Catholic faith. Instead we subscribed to the Jesus is my buddy, I'm OK, You're OK, lukewarm deadness that went with a faith that we weren't prepared to understand and had no clue about how to defend, let alone live. My sister left the church for a time, many of my classmates left too. I read my alumni news letter and I am not even clear any more if it is a Catholic School any more, if it ever was. I've met more than my share of bitter ex-Catholics on the internet and in real life. It doesn't take more than a few minutes to determine that their Catholic faith died because it wasn't taught logically or intellectually and most of them never saw it lived, not really. Not authentically.

When God brought Mr. Pete and me back to our Catholic church He chose to let us have a taste of the St. Paul experieince. We were assailed with the usual questions about Catholicism. You know, the usual, "Why do Catholics worship Mary", "Why do you all your priests Father when the bible says not to," "Where is (fill in the blank) in the bible." We literally stood there with our eyes glazed over and our mouths open because we didn't have a clue. Bombarding us with these questions over and over again was like shooting fish in a barrel - it was too easy to expose us for the ignorant post-Vatican II imbecilic offspring that we were.

But somehow, the Holy Spirit gave us enough common sense to figure out that maybe WE didn't know the answers, but that didn't mean that there weren't logical explanations for why the Catholic Church taught these things. We finally had enough curiosity and motivation to investigate and figure out what they were. It was logical and intellectual teaching that drove us to our knees and brought us back to the faith.

That's what I wanted for my kids. That's why we homeschooled them. but it's more than that. It's having them see their parents go to mass every week, seeing their father teach Sunday School, celebrating the liturgical year with all of the feasting and fasting, learning their prayers, seeing first hand their parents being open to new life and the struggles and joys that go with that. THAT's what makes kids strong in their faith. That's what gives them the strength to hang on and seek out that faith when they are struggling with real life during their adult years.

It doesn't matter to us if the parish serves Swiss Steak dinners on Friday's during Lent. It's not THEIR responsibility to raise our kids. That's OUR job. Mr. Pete and I will be accoutable before God for that. So we participate in the parish life, and we talk about what we like there and they hear us loud and clear when we think something is not authentic. For example, I once heard a priest say that when someone asks him whether or not something is a sin, he say's he doesn't know. We don't go to confession to that priest because we need someone who is pretty clear on what is and isn't sin or at least can ask direct questions to figure it out. My kids know this.

Mr. Dreher in my opinion, is wrong. It's not more complicated than that. It's that simple. In 2003, I was mentally and spiritually suffering from the loss of my little stillborn baby the fall before. My mind, my ears and my eyes were assaulted every time I turned on the radio, opened a newspaper, or watched t.v. by the scandal. You bet it was humiliating to be a Catholic during that time. It was a sad, sad time. But it was intellectually understanding my faith, and the logic of what the church truly teaches that guided me and my family through those times instead of getting mired in the feelings and emotions caused by the abuse and coverup of others. It was Faith and Reason that kept us grounded.

Mr. Dreher and his wife were converts to Catholicism. Much of the Dreher family's story reminds me of the Gospel of Mark.

5 "Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 "And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

Mr. Dreher says he was afraid that he would not be able to give his children faith if they were in the Catholic church. But I submit that unless he gives his children logical, intellectual reasoning for what they are to believe as Christians and backs that up in the home living an authentic faith, they'll leave anyway whether they are Catholic, Orthodox or apparently Amish.

For those reasons, although I understand his reasoning, I find his argumentation to be less than compelling. My kids have their own lives to live and paths to choose. They'll be judged for that. But if I were to die today I feel confident that I could stand in judgement before the Lord, and he could ask me if I really tried to pass on my Catholic Christian Faith, if I really taught them, and I could say yes. Logically, intellectually, a living faith.

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