Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Conservative Father Martin Fox rebukes Kneeling Catholic over 'Life Teen'

'Ten Reasons' blog has a little discussion going on the value of 'Life Teen'.

Feel free comment here or over there.... (my comments are in red)


Father Martin Fox said...
My parishes use the Life Teen catechetical material. I reviewed it initially, before deciding to go with it, and my conclusions are the following: (a) it seemed designed to be creative and engaging, although it demands a lot of planning and organizing, so that may be daunting; (b) it seemed very solid, drawing on good sources. At the time, reviewing the materials, I looked for what it said about certain issues. Did it even touch upon controversial topics, and how much? And what did it say? Subjects such as chastity, the nature of the church, the sacraments, etc. The materials I reviewed weren't afraid of the subjects, dealt with them in some depth, and gave unapologetic support for what we believe. I also looked to see if the Church, the Catechism and the Holy Father were pointed to; again, very much so. ....

And finally, I looked to see what it said about the Eucharist; and that was, as far as I looked, very solid. (I'm sure I looked at other things, but this is what I recall.)The materials are designed to cover a whole set of important topics over four years time. Of course, they presuppose the catechesis that should happen through 8th grade.Now, that was several years ago, and I looked at it and moved on to other concerns. I relied, then and now, on the zeal and ongoing attention of my coordinator of religious education. I expect, and am confident, that he will want our materials to be entirely solid, and he is well positioned to catch anything amiss. Of course, if a parent ever has concerns, I count on them to tell me. ....

Where LifeTeen has taken knocks is on liturgy; in fairness to LifeTeen, some of the goofy stuff associated with them goes back a lot of years, and the organization corrected the bad advice they were giving; but some of those bad practices are still followed. That is the fault of the priests and parishes doing that. Now, their liturgical materials are not outstanding, but they're not counseling disobedience to the rubrics. But as a pastor, I pay zero attention to their liturgical materials anyway.What is appealing about Life Teen is that not only provides the content, it provides help in providing a method for drawing and involving the teens and in that context, teaching. Simply saying, at 7 pm we're going to have a class for high-school teens isn't going to cut it. Simply having fun-and-games isn't going to cut it, either. St. Augustine, talking about teaching Christian doctrine, said, "to teach, delight and persuade." Bottom line, I'm sure someone can find something to criticize, but I think they want to do the right thing.
Monday, August 3, 2009 11:25:00 AM EST
Paul said...
Lifeteen is a fantastic organization. One of their founders, Mark Hart (aka the bible geek) has several popular books available on Amazon, etc. They also bring hundreds of students to Youth Conferences presented by Franciscian University of Steubenville. My daughter has attended their week long camp in Georgia and an "Inspiration Tour" at Cedar Point. That event featured a Mass, their musicians and speakers. They do a great job!
Monday, August 3, 2009 12:53:00 PM EST
Baron Korf said...
LifeTeen isn't bad, but I wouldn't use it if it were up to me. I teach confirmation and while we are officially part of LifeTeen, we deviate a lot. Not because the material steers you wrong, but it just seems so shallow in places. But then again, many of this High Schoolers are babies in the faith, some haven't had a single lesson since their first communion.
Monday, August 3, 2009 1:34:00 PM EST
Anonymous said...
I would personally like to see Life Teen and their rock Masses be banished from the Catholic Church.
Monday, August 3, 2009 4:41:00 PM EST
Kneeling Catholic said...
Lex orandi lex credendi. Life Teen masses produce an atmosphere which offends many Catholics. Not just older Catholics. I know teens and pre-teens who don't like the condescending approach, nor the 'hootenanny' (to use Bishop Weakland's original phrase for hip masses with which he was enamored)atmosphere.

...As for their approach to the Holy Eucharist, Father Martin. Don't look at what they say...look at what they do and what they promote: i.e. a very casual approach to Our Lord. When is the last time you saw someone kneel to receive at a Life Teen mass? Oh, I get it...they're not in to that. That would go against what they are trying to accomplish.... If Eucharistic gratitude and awe go against what they are, then what are they?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 4:49:00 AM EST






Father Martin Fox said...
Kneeling:I'm not sure you read fully what I wrote.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 7:59:00 AM EST


Kneeling Catholic said...
I'm sorry Father,you are right. my vision blurred when you mentioned "what it [Life Teen teaching materials] said about the Eucharist....".However a closer reading of your original still gives me impression you don't see Life Teen's raucous and offensive celebrations as a very big problem. Isn't the liturgy also a teaching material?What are we teaching 'the children' when the Mass takes on the appearance of a 'brush arbor' camp meeting?....

A friend of mine once wondered that if Catholic schools - a hot bed of Life Teen activism - want to teach the children to act like fake protestants then what will stop them, when they finally get around to reflecting, from deciding it might be more honest just to be real protestants?

K. C.

.....Scott W. said...
>>A friend of mine once wondered that if Catholic schools - a hot bed of Life Teen activism - want to teach the children to act like fake protestants then what will stop them, when they finally get around to reflecting, from deciding it might be more honest just to be real protestants.<<


It is right that you mention the protestant angle because when I implemented LT (which I later regretted), the priest had in mind specifically a non-Catholic outfit Crossroads that he was worried was sheep stealing and wanted something that was the parishes' own. A reasonable goal I'd say, but the problem is that for one, you'll easily be out-competed by a group that has basically an anything-goes approach to worship, and morever, by trying to be relevant in the same way, you only end up with the worst thing imaginable: a faith that has been reduced to a commodity sitting on a shelf with countless other products competing for attention. The only result one can count on from this approach is trivialization.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 9:37:00 AM EST


Gail F said...
Poor Fr. Fox, has anyone read what he wrote???He said that the catechetical materials are good and that he doesn't allow the LifeTeen liturgical stuff. Now, if you are suspicious of the catechetical stuff because of the liturgical stuff, that's a legitimate suspicion. But please do Fr. Fox the courtesy of listening to what he has to say about the catechetical stuff, which HE FINDS SOUND AND INTERESTING.Our parish uses "Faith First," which is the choice of our Archdiocese and which I think is a waste of time and trees.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 9:56:00 AM EST


Father Martin Fox said...
Kneeling:I guess you didn't read what I said here:"Where LifeTeen has taken knocks is on liturgy; in fairness to LifeTeen, some of the goofy stuff associated with them goes back a lot of years, and the organization corrected the bad advice they were giving; but some of those bad practices are still followed. That is the fault of the priests and parishes doing that. Now, their liturgical materials are not outstanding, but they're not counseling disobedience to the rubrics. ...


But as a pastor, I pay zero attention to their liturgical materials anyway.I will expand on that: most Catholic materials I see in circulation are "not outstanding" on liturgy! Very little material I see has caught up with Pope Benedict's "hermeneutic of continuity" on the liturgy. That said, I repeat: LifeTeen materials counsel respect for the rubrics. To the extent they think there's a wide variety of musical options available, they are in the "mainstream" that is, as I said, out of sync with Pope Benedict. ...

As far as being "Protestant" and not sufficiently being Eucharistic, I would point out that LifeTeen emphasizes Eucharistic adoration. How "Protestant" is that? On a related note: I've been to Franciscan U. in Steubenville, where they have Eucharistic holy hours that include "praise and worship" music. You may not like it; and it needs to be handled carefully; but if you think these college kids lack reverence or ardor, you are badly mistaken....

Once again, many of the notorious practices associated with LifeTeen go back many years and are no longer endorsed by the organization. Yet various parishes are still doing them. What do you expect LifeTeen to do, send out hit squads? The fault lies with the pastors, who control the celebration of the liturgy, and who too often think this is the way to be "hip."
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 10:02:00 AM EST
Kneeling Catholic said...
Well! (humpf)Dear Father...(I just looked at your blog and I really liked it)


We are, unfortunately, not agreeing about Life Teen. My original question --when was the last time you saw someone kneel to receive Communion at a 'Life Teen' mass?-- was not rhetorical. Have you ever? (I have not) ...

Maybe Life Teen up there isn't like Life Teen down here Texas way! If their reverence for the Eucharist is not reflected in the Mass, then the reverence they teach is missing the main point.Maybe what it is they are not teaching, reverence during worship, is more important than all their theology.I could be wrong...k.c.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 10:26:00 AM EST
Father Martin Fox said...
KC:In answer to your question...I can't recall seeing it, but let me qualify that by: (a) I don't go to so-called "LifeTeen Masses" as I don't do that here; (b) I don't see people kneeling for communion very often anywhere in the new form of the Mass, as the normative posture is standing. Now, don't get me wrong, I have zero problem with someone kneeling--but it's not called for, and technically is in conflict with the rubrics, so--it's something I cannot in good conscience urge people to do. I would prefer the rubric be changed on that point. But the thing is, if that is your measure, then the Masses in my parish are deficient, because while it happens, with no discouragement, it isn't very common.So I really wonder how meaningful that is to say what we think about Life Teen.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 10:38:00 AM EST
Father Martin Fox said...
KC -- by the way, thanks for visiting my blog and the kind words!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 10:38:00 AM EST


Kneeling Catholic said...
Father!I apologize for being contentious. but since I have you on the line...let me ask you one more question...I know you have to 'toe the line' and 'catechize' the disobedient people who fall to their knees before Jesus.but would there be something wrong with giving a sermon on 'Why, since last year's feast of Corpus Christi, does the Pope make everyone kneel for Jesus?'


...We are hearing Eucharistic sermons these Sundays anyway. I think many priests would avoid such a 'teaching moment' because that would make them have to choose between following the USCCB regulations or being true to the Pope's humble example.
thanks for listening!...
keep up the good work!...
pray for me and mine!..

k.c.

Father Martin Fox said... Kneeling:I don't say anything about people who kneel to receive communion, other than what I've said here; I don't correct them. No one has asked me about it, but if someone does, I'll explain that while it's not exactly in line with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (a product of Rome, not the U.S. bishops, although they had input), ...

Rome says to let it go, and that's what I do.Meanwhile, I'm aware of the pope's example, but he knows full well that I'm bound by the General Instruction, and he, as pope, has power to revise them, which I do not. So I obey the instructions; and he can change them whenever he chooses. So I don't accept the notion that there's a tension: the pope wants his priests to obey the rubrics. He, as supreme legislator, can do things I cannot--i.e., make exceptions to the existing law.

Kneeling Catholic said...
Father, you didn’t answer my question. Which was if it would be wrong to preach about the meaning of the Holy Father's example.

>>>Father Martin Fox said... Kneeling:I don't say anything about people who kneel to receive communion, other than what I've said here; I don't correct them.<<< t

then you are already in violation of the American GIRM. Which says you are supposed to ‘catechize’ violators.>

>>>> No one has asked me about it, but if someone does, I'll explain that while it's not exactly in line with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (a product of Rome, not the U.S. bishops, although they had input),<<<.

Just a minute! Father, if I had been born yesterday I would take you to mean that Rome is the author of the following…[from the girm] [the norm to stand during Holy Communion]

>>>The norm for the reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with the proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm...<<

You know that’s that not the case….anymore than Rome was the author of the defective English liturgy translation which is now has to be flushed.Don’t blame Rome for authoring this confusion….I can understand how if I had written that piece of chewing gum I too would want to push the blame off on someone else. But Rome did not write that! Some double-talking American diplomat did. Rome conceded. ....

by way of example, if my daughter asks me if she can buy purple hair dye and I concede, I did not ‘produce’ the idea. She did. If I then tell her she has to wash it out anytime I’m in the house and she whines and says it was me who told her to buy it, well…she’s wrong. And, if you really believe Rome produced the American norm of standing, so are you.You are confounding making a concession with authoring. pray for me

k.c.





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