Dreher’s 10 Suggestions to Keeping People in the Faith

The blogosphere of politics and, especially, Catholicism seems to be increasingly just a series of posts in which a blogger simply copies and pastes an excerpt of another article and expands or “replies” to it. See: my previous post…and many others including this one. I understand why this is; it’s a way to publicly communicate with other people in a format which requires more than 140 characters. It’s Twitter with more depth…a nice way of putting it, eh?

At any rate, the increasingly visible orthodox Christian thought-provoker Rod Dreher has a blog post replying to a tweet which was in reply to everyone’s favorite Catholic opinion writer for the New York TimesRoss Douthat. See below:

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Mr. Dreher lists his top ten suggestions for “Christians wanting to keep their kids in the faith”. Pay particular attention to points 3, 6, which are topics discussed on this blog often.

  1. Accept that there’s no such thing as a foolproof program for this. Religious faith is not something that can be programmed into people. There’s no killer app to make your kids religious. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do that make it more likely, but you should not be under the impression that there’s a secret formula for it.
  2. Don’t outsource your kids’ religious education. You are the primary religious educator of your children. Your church staff and Christian school staff can help with this, and should — but mostly, it’s on you. If the best you can do is support in every way your church and school as they teach your kids, that’s better than most. If you feel incapable of doing things in-depth yourself, then at least don’t undermine those who are.
  3. Practice your religion yourself. The most important form of religious education in families is by example. Studies have shown over and over that the best predictor of whether or not people become religious is whether or not their parents practiced the faith. It’s not enough to say, “This is what we believe.” You’ve got to walk the walk. You’ve got to live as if God were real — and not just on Sundays and holidays.
  4. The life of faith is 80 percent formation, 20 percent information. When I was in my twenties and a militant new convert, I used to think that the answer to our problems with fallen-away Christians was better catechesis. Now that I’m 50, have lived longer, have had my own deep and painful struggles with my faith, and have been raising kids for almost 18 years, I see that catechesis is only part of the picture — and not the most important part. I don’t mean to put down catechetics — I think we all know that we need to do more of it — but I do want to say that practices matter more than mastering information. (See #2)
  5. Don’t shy away from the big questions. “Why did God let Aunt Ruthie die?” It’s a good and serious question, and it deserves a good and serious answer — and “I can’t say for sure” is a better answer than something pat that’s designed more to short-circuit questions than to answer them. I can see now that much of the religion in my family’s life was (unconsciously) designed to wall off real moral and theological inquiry. I hear this a fair amount from people, talking about their childhoods.
  6. Encourage a sense of wonder. All true religion begins with wonder. Expose your kids (and yourself) to God’s presence in nature, in sacred art and architecture, in literature. Otherwise, you risk turning the experience of faith into dry moralism.
  7. Help them to see the universality and the historic dimension of the Church. It’s a big church, and includes in an immense range of human experience over the past two millennia. This is your children’s inheritance. Share it with them.
  8. Beauty and Goodness are greatly undervalued as witnesses and teachers. This point is implied by a couple of the things I said above, but I still wanted to say it. In a “post-truth” age, it will be easier for many young people to approach God through His manifestation in Beauty (#5) and Goodness (e.g., in the lives of the saints, and in deeds of heroic sacrifice, mercy, and compassion around them). When their minds are closed to the appeal of Truth — as mine was for a time in my teenage years — Beauty and Goodness can be the ways in. Don’t, however, fall for the trap that Truth doesn’t really matter, only subjective experience and kindness. They are all united.
  9. Practice little rituals of forgiveness. I will never forget being at Forgiveness Vespers at the start of Lent in 2006, and watching elderly Orthodox Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas bowing to little children and asking their forgiveness, and receiving their requests for forgiveness, as is the Orthodox custom. That made a huge impression on me, and I’ve tried hard to live by his example. When I speak harshly to my kids, or treat them unjustly, I repent by asking them to forgive me. They’ve told me that this means a lot to them. It would have changed my life had my father done that — and changed his too, I bet. It shows that humility is a real thing, and that we are all the same under the law.
  10. It’s not up to you, ultimately, but to God and to your child. God made us all free. He will not force us to accept Him. Nor can you force your children to accept Him. Do the best you can, and leave the rest to God. (See #1)

If you find this interesting, be sure to check out Peter Kreeft’s How to Raise Catholic Kids. ☩

Manchester: Why Were Some Victims Children?

Out of the 59 victims hospitalized by the recent ISIS attack, 12 were children under the age of 16. Many of the 22 who died were also children. Quoting from CBS:

People who saw Saffie Roussos at the concert Monday night say the 8-year-old was wearing an Ariana Grande T-shirt when she died.

Why were so many victims children? My question is not a musing over why ISIS would murder such innocent souls, we know the depth of their barbarism is bottomless. My question is for the West; mainly Europe. Doesn’t it strike most people (who have a basic idea of what most pop music is like) as kinda shocking such young people, children, would be at an Ariana Grande arena-sized concert, adorned in the respective swag? To be sure, no one could possibly expect attending such a concert might increase the chances of falling victim to such a crime against humanity. The blame is put squarely on the people following this subhuman ideology.

when you import immigrants at any real scale from jihadist regions, then you will import the cultural, religious, and political views that incubate jihad. Jihadist ideas flow not from soil but from people, and when you import people you import their ideas.

The point is that Western culture seems to be unraveling…quickly. There are many signs of this. The explosive speed of the moral decadence paired with the widespread self-sterilization (declining population) of Millennials makes European countries ripe for what what is happening to them. On top of that, the stranglehold politically correct language has over society prevents any serious ideas on how to stop the plague of jihad from being honestly discussed, much less implemented.

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Crippled by political correctness: this is an actual response by local police following the slaughter of children.

Most young adults in Europe are not becoming parents, this isn’t news (unfortunately), but those who are have little interest in actually parenting it seems. Take a look at the lyrics to one of Ariana Grande’s featured songs on her current Dangerous Woman tour and ponder what kind of parent pays money to allow their pre-teen daughter to idolize such an artist. The song is “Side-to-Side” and is about, according to the Nickelodeon alum herself, about having so much sex that she can’t walk straight anymore. The rest of this post is NSFW:

I’ve been here all night (Ariana)
I’ve been here all day (Nicki Minaj)
And boy, got me walkin’ side to side
(Let them hoes know)

I’m talkin’ to ya
See you standing over there with your body
Feeling like I wanna rock with your body
And we don’t gotta think ’bout nothin’ (‘Bout nothin’)
I’m comin’ at ya
‘Cause I know you got a bad reputation
Doesn’t matter, ’cause you give me temptation
And we don’t gotta think ’bout nothin’ (‘Bout nothin’)

These friends keep talkin’ way too much
Say I should give you up
Can’t hear them no, ’cause I

I’ve been here all night
I’ve been here all day
And boy, got me walkin’ side to side
I’ve been here all night
I’ve been here all day
And boy, got me walkin’ side to side (Side to side)

Been tryna hide it
Baby what’s it gonna hurt if they don’t know?
Makin’ everybody think that we solo
Just as long as you know you got me (You got me)
And boy I got ya
‘Cause tonight I’m making deals with the devil
And I know it’s gonna get me in trouble
Just as long as you know you got me

These friends keep talkin’ way too much
Say I should give you up
Can’t hear them no, ’cause

I’ve been here all night
I’ve been here all day
And boy, got me walkin’ side to side (Side to side)
I’ve been here all night
(Been here all night, baby)
I’ve been here all day
(Been here all day, baby)
And boy, got me walkin’ side to side (Side to side)

This the new style with the fresh type of flow
Wrist icicle, ride dick bicycle
Come true yo, get you this type of blow
If you wanna menage I got a tricycle

All these bitches, flows is my mini-me
Body smoking, so they call me young Nicki chimney
Rappers in they feelings cause they feelin’ me
Uh, I-I give zero fucks and I got zero chill in me
Kissing me, copped the blue box that say Tiffany
Curry with the shot, just tell ’em to call me Stephanie
Gun pop and I make my gum pop
I’m the queen of rap, young Ariana run pop

These friends keep talkin’ way too much
Say I should give him up
Can’t hear them no, ’cause I

I’ve been here all night
I’ve been here all day
And boy, got me walkin’ side to side (Side to side)
I’ve been here all night
(Been here all night baby)
I’ve been here all day
(Been here all day baby)
Boy, got me walkin’ side to side (Side to side)

This the new style with the fresh type of flow
Wrist icicle, ride dick bicycle
Come true yo, get you this type of blow
If you wanna menage I got a tricycle

The West’s current weakness isn’t only rooted in the decay of moral pillars it too is simply weak in numbers; both of these compromised foundations is closely associated with the destruction of authentic Catholicism which much of Europe is, architecturally, philosophically, and culturally, built on. Quoting parts from George Weigel’s recent piece, Catholic Lite and Europe’s Demographic Suicide:

(1) Europe is committing demographic suicide, systematically depopulating itself in what British historian Niall Ferguson has called “the greatest sustained reduction in European population since the Black Death in the fourteenth century.

(2) This unwillingness to create the future in the most elemental sense, by creating new generations, is at the root of many of Europe’s problems, including its difficulties assimilating immigrants and its fiscal distress.

(3) When an entire continent—healthier, wealthier, and more secure than ever before—deliberately chooses sterility, the most basic cause for that must lie in the realm of the human spirit, in a certain souring about the very mystery of being. 

The members of the American commentariat most attuned to this plague of Euro-childlessness tend to discuss its impacts in terms of the rapidly growing Muslim population in Europe…But for a Catholic, Europe’s demographic winter bespeaks, first and foremost, a colossal evangelical failure. Acknowledging that also sheds light on the contemporary Catholic situation in Europe.

In recent years, the Catholic Lite Brigade has reasserted itself in western Europe and in the counsels of the world Church. It is time to ask whether Catholic Lite—as displayed in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and elsewhere—does not have something to do with Europe’s demographic meltdown. It is time to ask whether Catholic Lite is not at least partially responsible, not only for Europe’s self-chosen sterility, but for Europe’s rapidly accelerating embrace of euthanasia. It is time to ask why Catholic Lite has been such an abysmal failure in forming public moral cultures in which self-gift, not self-aggrandizement, is the touchstone of human aspiration.

…the continued embrace of Catholic Lite by too many western European Catholic leaders and intellectuals bodes ill for a European Catholicism that can inspire Europe to reject demographic suicide and rediscover the joy of creating the future through having children. 

Catholics, parents, citizens of good will, step up to the plate and live lives which seek beauty, goodness, and truth. Live counter-culturally because the culture of death wants to destroy your culture, family, and community. I’ll leave it at that. ☩


Our Lady of Fatima, please console the families of these victims by drawing them closer to the hearts of you and Jesus.

St. John Bosco, intercede for all the western nations facing the terror of ISIS.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us and on the souls of the departed, that they may find peace in eternal life.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. . .

An Unfortunate Graph

A recent Gallup poll highlights Americans’ current opinions on the moral acceptability of various practices. I’ll let the graph speak for itself after adding only two points

  1. 22% of Americans are registered Catholics and 71% of Americans are considered Christian…
  2. The order below is no coincidence. Widespread acceptance of artificial birth control paved the way for the two runners-up (as predicted by Bl. Paul VI, Humanae Vitae). In turn, widespread divorce and promiscuity promotes instability within society which leads to more risky or unfortunate practices.

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Comments: 10 Reasons Why Millennials are Opting Out of Religion

Most Millennials are falling away from religion. This isn’t news. We all know this both from the polls being released and, mostly, simple observation. The reasons for this situation aren’t news either. That’s why a recent editorial on Fox News isn’t groundbreaking.

Catholics Mark The Start Of Lent With Ash Wednesday Mass

The piece written by protestant Dr. Alex McFarland points out reasons why Millennials are indifferent, skeptical, or repulsed by Christianity. While most points are not new and some are more accurate than others, a few deserve commentary. The points worth expanding on are put in order of importance below.

Ten Reasons Millennials are Backing Away from God and Christianity

4. Lack of spiritual authenticity among adults. Many youth have had no — or very limited — exposure to adult role models who know what they believe, why they believe it, and are committed to consistently living it out.

This is huge. As a Millennial (who even went to Catholic schools) I can absolutely vouch for this. After years of religious ed and Sunday Mass, most Americans Catholics are still left with little understanding of the importance of Jesus’ Sacrifice or the purpose of the Catholic Church. Few suburban parents during the 90’s-00’s transmitted faithful Catholicism to their children because they themselves had a poor understanding of it. Adults need to have a solid understanding of their own faith and live it out authentically rather than awkwardly fit Catholicism into their already existing lifestyle. Children need to see adults living the faith out even when no one is looking or when it is uncomfortable. Children need to witness their parents praying like adults, otherwise they just think it’s something adults make kids do like putting teeth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy or cookies out for Santa.

Parents: read about your faith. The benefits to the mind and soul of reading Catholic literature cannot be underestimated. If you don’t know the answer to something, immediately seek the answer on your smartphone. There’re no excuses! Then live out the faith personally foremost and let these practices radiate to the rest of family life. This leads to the next point…

6. Pervasive cultural abandonment of morality. The idea of objective moral truth—ethical norms that really are binding on all people—is unknown to most and is rejected by the rest.

If one doesn’t understand the objective essence of God and His Church though the first point made above, why would they live a life of objective morality? If everyone can make up their own truth, anyone can rationalize behavior in seeking personal enjoyment. If moral truth isn’t objective, virtue/vice doesn’t exist, and the entire reason for Jesus dying on the Cross evaporates. This leads to the next point…

2. Breakdown of the family. It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God, sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”

He’s quoting a sociologist but he could have just as easily quoted Pope Saint JPII: “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

5. The church’s cultural influence has diminished. The little neighborhood church is often assumed to be irrelevant, and there is no cultural guilt anymore for those who abandon involvement.

The author is looking at this in a short-sighted protestant way. This is true for the Church more than an individual neighborhood church (although still accurate). The Roman Catholic Church’s clout when it came to moral applications to new situations in the world has been destroyed, nearly entirely self-inflicted. The self-destruction following the unfaithful applications of the ambiguous Second Vatican Council documents and the horrendous sexual scandal which followed was unparalleled in Church history. This led to many priests and bishops to speak of the Church publicly in a self-loathing manner, further contributing to this issue. Due to the reduced worldwide influence of Rome, we have seen the rise of the next point…

3. Militant secularism: Embraced by media and enforced in schools, secular education approaches learning through the lens of “methodological naturalism.” It is presupposed that all faith claims are merely expressions of subjective preference. The only “true” truths are claims that are divorced from any supernatural context and impose no moral obligations on human behavior.

Catholics must stand up and fight for what is true, beautiful, and good. Adult Catholics must understand their faith better than any generation before and live it out in a way that permeates their entire life. There is no room for, as Bishop Barron calls it, “beige Catholicism” any longer.


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It can be argued that this entire situation is a way of strengthening the Church. As the Catholic Church sheds millions of people who are, essentially,  “Catholic in Name Only” or “cultural Catholics” due to the diminished shame associated with abandoning one’s baptismal rites, a more true, beautiful, and good form of Catholicism rises from the ashes…purified through the intense fires of the last five decades. The impurities will burn away and left standing will be, as always, the gold that is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. ☩

Lenten Reading: Finally Going to Read Augustine’s ‘Confessions’

After sitting on my shelf for two years, I have decided to finally crack open and finish Saint Augustine’s famous epic, Confessions. Augustine’s story of leaving his young life of hedonism and debauchery behind after making a monumental conversion to Christianity is a tale many people–especially millennials–find beckoning.

Learning about the scandalous and sinful early lives of saints offers hope. It proves that saints are not born saints and that we all have the ability to become saints no matter what one’s past is. It’s a hope that no one can take away no matter the situation.

The same curiosity leads many to read Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain which is another tale of a man preoccupied with finding one fleeting high after another before uncovering the truth in life, converting to Catholicism and becoming a Trappist monk.

Heaven is filled with converted sinners of all kinds, and there is room for more.
-St. Joseph Cafasso

If memory serves, Confessions is on the list of The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written, a secular list. The book is considered by both Christians and many non-Christians alike to be a masterpiece. Peter Kreeft calls Augustine a “saint of our times” because of how so many lost millennials are able to relate with his life as a teenager and young adult.

I was torn between three books to take up this Lent…all of which are already on the bookshelf: Confessions, CS Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, or St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout LifeIn partial help due to respected recommendation of a priest friend of mine, I think Confessions will be a fine choice! I’m sure there’s more to come on this…maybe a TSP Cliffs Notes? ☩