A Catholic Teen’s POV: Being a Catholic at a Catholic School

You’d assume this would be easy. “You’re a Catholic at a Catholic school, what’s so difficult about that?!” But my answer to you would be, it’s actually very difficult. Before you wonder how knowledgeable I am about this topic, let me tell you that I’ve been attending a Catholic school ever since Kindergarten…So, yes. I do know what being a Catholic at a Catholic school is like.

There are definitely positive aspects of going to a Catholic school as a Catholic; Mass is offered once a week or a couple of weeks, theology classes, freedom to openly pray, and the list goes on and on for awhile. But, it’s not always positive being a Catholic at a Catholic school. The majority of teenagers that I know at my school have grown to the point where they simply don’t understand Church teaching, and are living in a state of “I’m Catholic, but…”

Just yesterday I witnessed classmates criticizing how the school would not let a same gender couple be in the Grand March if that happened. I heard the very popular, “It’s 2016 now! I don’t understand, they (the Church) need to change.” If you know me somewhat well, you’ll realize that I didn’t leave that alone. Afterwards, I remarked on how the Catholic Church does not need to “change with the times,” as if two thousand years doesn’t testify to the fact the Church does not need to get with the times.

So, what exactly am I trying to pull out from that experience? At my specific Catholic high schools, and possibly others, are either not doing a good job of catechizing the students or there’s something wrong with the students themselves and their faith. But no, the second option would totally make sense simply if many are not able to be catechized well in their Catholic schools. From my own experiences, kneeling during the Consecration might obtain reactions entirely negative, even from the campus minister, too!

I’ve tried to speak to those in charge of campus ministry at my school, and they simply do not listen! All I’ve been hearing is “trust me, I have a lot of experience in liturgy.” But does experience equal correctness? It’s as if I played a piano piece for ten years, but always played it incorrectly. Over time, motor memory would prevent me from correcting the mistake or even realizing I made the mistake. To take in the perspective of the students that you’re serving in your ministry is something that should be the highest in your list of things to do. Disregarding students’ opinions or questions is simply another form of pride, one of the seven deadly sins!

Whenever I speak out in defense of the Catholic Church at my school, half of the time I get eye rolls or sarcastic remarks. No, I am not trying to be “holier than thou,” but because I invest the majority of my time into learning my faith and trying to live it out, I can’t help myself defending the faith when I see it attacked by other students at my Catholic school. From my experiences with other classmates, there’s only about ten to twenty percent of students who are actually invested in their faith to the fullest, although there are others who are somewhat interested, but simply are afraid to do so because of peer opinion.

As I mentioned earlier, my school joins together for the Mass once or twice a month as one school community. There tends to be a lack of reverence at these Masses, and although I’ve brought up these concerns, no one seems to care. Although there is a morning mass before school, there’s about 3 or 4 students that go every time, including me. Since the chapel has windows all around, it’s easy to make judgement about those on the inside. Other people probably label me as a judgmental, traditional, and close-minded Catholic obsessed girl…but, I don’t care about their opinions necessarily. The one opinion that I spend my life worrying about is God’s. That’s why I follow God’s moral laws, not the laws or social norms of the world.

There’s a chapel located in my school as mentioned before. Some students take some time to go in there to pray, while others on the other hand do not. I’ve walked by the chapel seeing couples go in there just to talk with one another or go on their devices. But…they don’t pray. One of my best friends and her boyfriend go in there to pray, and I’m thankful for their beautiful witness to the faith! That’s not the only thing, everyone passes by the chapel every day when the whole school gathers together. Students walk past and across the chapel with no sign of recognizing the Blessed Sacrament is indeed present in the tabernacle located in the chapel. I’ve recently began to bow my head every time I pass, or genuflect if there isn’t a lot of people walking down the hallway.

This might just be a first part since this problem cannot simply be explored in one blog post that I write. Being a Catholic in a Catholic setting today is something that is quite difficult depending on the environment. I’ve been a Catholic school student for twelve years, but not all of those years have been easy since I’ve had to dealt with negative reactions and commentary from those who are supposed to lead me in my faith, not disagree with me when I ask for more reverence, or when I try to promote vocations (maybe another blog post for later)!

And I’m definitely not saying this is something that all Catholic students go through at their Catholic high school. These were just thoughts from my own personal experience of being at a Catholic school who typically focuses on sports and fine arts more than the faith of their students. Also, these were from the perspective of someone who is not as quiet when expressing their faith compared to those who are more subtle about their faith.

Music-List Mondays: Anthem

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Anthem by Tom Conry

Listen to it here: Link (although it’s not the full version, it gives you an idea of how it goes)

We are wonderful, we can be weak, but we are created beautifully by God. We are so splendid in many ways, we are each unique, and made in God’s image. We all have a vocation, and we need to discern it.

Okay…did you see that up there. That was me trying to write as many “we’s” as I could. It reminds me of a certain song, and that song is Anthem.

Let’s first look at the refrain:

“We are called, we are chosen, We are Christ for one another,
we are promised to tomorrow, while we are for him today.
We are sign, we are wonder, We are sower, we are seed,
We are harvest, we are hunger. We are question, we are creed.”

There’s an abundance of the word “we” in the refrain. Thinking about this song during a Mass, it would seem that everyone is just singing to another person. Seems like a song used to empower a group to be closely bonded on their mission. But, wait, isn’t our mission as Catholics more than just becoming a community? Aren’t we essentially forgetting the reason as to why we would be at Mass together?

More than half of the refrain deals with us, the things we are, and what we will be. I don’t necessarily understand the meaning of the entire refrain, since how are we question and creed? That’s the one that really stumps me. Although, the refrain seems to bring about a sense of unity, especially trying to state that we are called to be a multitude of things, it doesn’t seem to bring about a good strong message.

Now, the first verse:

Then where can we stand justified? In what can we believe?
In no one else but Christ who suffered, nothing more than Christ who rose.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

It seems to say that we should only believe in the suffering and Resurrection of Christ, and other aspects of his life. How about other key factors of the Catholic faith, such as Scripture or Tradition? Also, the “no one else” seems to state we shouldn’t believe in anyone else, but Christ. How about the Trinity? This verse raises questions, but does not give the listener a fulfilling answer at all. It does glorify Christ, but it is in a past sense. Christ is “justice for the poor”, He is “rage against the night. He is “hope for peaceful people, and He is light. Not was, but is. 

Second verse:

Then how are we to stand at all, this world of bended knee?
In nothing more than barren shadows, No one else but Christ could save us.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

“This world of bended knee.” Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with humility or humility. And I think that’s what this line is saying. We can’t stand if we’re humble or modest? If we’re being reverent, and kneeling or genuflecting? “In nothing more than barren shadows,” is it all just an act that has no meaning. Of course not! There are reasons why do we do certain actions!

Take a look at James 2:14, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” and James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” With that being said, we need works! Not just plain faith. We hope to earn salvation by both our works and faith. The second verse seems to say we don’t need acts of reverence or humbleness, we just need to have faith, no works or anything.

Finally, the third verse.

Then shall we not stand empty at the altar of our dreams?
When Christ promised us ourselves, Who mark time against tomorrow,
Who are justice for the poor, Who are rage against the night,
Who are hope for peaceful people, Who are light.

So I’m still confused on this verse. I hardly have any idea what it means. Let me try to sort my thoughts…What exactly is the altar of our dreams? Is it a physical destination, maybe a point in our spiritual life? Could it be heaven? The wording is confusing and not specific at all to the meaning. The second line is no less confusing. Is it about us having free will? The second part is just terrible grammar, honestly. While the second half of the verse is now in present tense, shouldn’t it be “is” instead of “are?” The “are’s” remind me of pirates…

Honestly, if anyone has any idea of what this verse was supposed to mean, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it!

Overall, I don’t like this song. Not only for its lyrics, but also because of the way it musically sounds. It doesn’t sound like a song that should be sung at Mass when we are partaking in such a breath-taking sacrifice, and receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Thoughts? Please let me know.

 

Silence Before Mass

Silence. Just that word is intriguing, there’s something different that each person thinks of when they hear that word.

This morning at my school Mass, I was sitting on the risers for the choir watching as classmates, upperclassman, and underclassman all walked into the auditorium. I noticed something…silence and reverence were not there. People came in talking to their friends, maybe about the class before, or the test afterwards. It might’ve even been something completely unrelated to school or the Mass. Even those in the choir were talking among themselves.

I sat there, realizing something I hadn’t before. These people and myself had walked into the auditorium numerous times, with no preparation of our soul for the Mass. It’s recommended to have silence before Mass, but there was none of it. It only quieted down when the cantor welcomed everyone and said the song number.

Something was pulling on my heart, I was apologetic to Jesus. How disappointing it must be for him to see the people He died for not appreciating His sacrifice! It was my determination to spend the rest of the mass in reverence. If the others disregarded the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist during the celebration of the Mass, I wanted to at least be reverent myself.

I found it curious that no one had ever mentioned to stop talking before Mass. Shouldn’t we know the tremendous opportunity that we are able to partake in? Many other Catholics in different countries have to celebrate Mass in secret, but it seems that we’ve disregarded the meaning of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

“Mass is so boring,” we’ve probably heard it at some point. I think the problem does not lie within the mass, but the person’s understanding and faith of the mass. If a person truly comprehends the sacredness of the mass as bridging us between heaven and earth, I doubt they’d be speaking about their crush just minutes before Mass began.

Silence gives us the opportunity to listen to God’s voice, our lives are already too filled with constant noise. We need silence in our lives, there’s no doubt of that. So, can’t we spare a few minutes before mass to remain silent and prepare ourselves for the Mass?

I’d just like to end this post with a few quotes/bible verse:

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

“We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy. We respond, by singing and praying, to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence.”  [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 209] (Pope Benedict XVI)

” A soul that has never tasted
the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others.” -St. Faustina Kowalska

 

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Priest on a hoverboard

Although I wasn’t planning on writing another blog post this soon, I was scrolling through comments about this, and felt that I should write this up.

Ah, where do I begin…

Many comments wrote that the priest might’ve been doing this to appeal to the young people. But, then he was suspended, and people said that the church officials are complaining about church attendance and, “I wonder why…”

As someone who’s considered to be a “young person” at mass…I wanted to say how I felt about this situation. First off, if my parish priest decided to try and do this one day at mass, I would do either of two things at that moment; kneel down and start praying for more reverence, or simply walk outside/away.

To some extent, I can see where people would say it can bring in young people, but I think the idea that the Catholic Church needs to “be/fit with the times” is unnecessary. Just a year ago, I’d totally be on the bandwagon for modernizing things in the Catholic Church, but now I’m more informed.

The mass does not exist for there to be a performance or show of any sort. When we gather for mass, we should be focusing on Christ. I personally do not think a priest on a hoverboard would help us focus on the True Presence of the Eucharist. Some might argue that there are already other distractions in the mass. I agree, but, that doesn’t mean we should allow for more.

When the sacrifice of the mass is made into a performance or a simple event of fellowship, we lose sight of why we are there. Not to hear someone sing, or to see our friend, but we are at Mass to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.

The priest might be attempting to relate to the young people, but I believe that there is greater power in the beautiful Tradition that the Catholic Church has. For many years, the Catholic Church has stood firm without needing to adjust to the ideals and beliefs of the current times, so, there isn’t really a reason to incorporate popular culture into the liturgy.

I don’t think the diocese did wrong in suspending the priest. It might seem harsh, but I believe that the priest will reflect on having more reverence to the Eucharist. Honestly, I think we all need to! This is a time that we should pause and see how much reverence we actually have and should have for the Eucharist.

There is an increasing amount of disrespect and lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and this is simply another example of one. Many have gone unnoticed, but I’m glad this one was brought to light and dealt with appropriately.

I pray that there will be increased reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.