Friday, December 9, 2011

Bishop Sample on the "Lost Generations" (link to full text interview with CWR)

I'm so glad that Catholic World Report offered this interview in full, online.  It was a valuable contribution, and much of what the Marquette, Michigan bishop says will resonate with Catholics who have suffered for the last 40 years. 

Here is an excerpt:

You’ve described yourself as a member of “the first lost generation of poor catechesis,” which “raised up another generation that is equally uncatechized.” What’s wrong with catechesis and what have you done to help solve the problem?

Bishop Sample: My generation was the first in the wake of Vatican II. While I certainly don’t blame the Council, much upheaval occurred in the Church in its aftermath. Culturally, society was experiencing the sexual revolution, the women’s liberation movement, and the anti-war movement, among others. There was an anti-authoritarian spirit.

In this time of great confusion, catechesis suffered. We booted the Baltimore Catechism out the door, but there wasn’t anything to replace it. I was taught the faith in Catholic schools using materials that were weak and insubstantial. I wasn’t being taught my faith. The liturgy suffered from experimentation as well.

When I speak about this publicly, invariably people of my generation come up to me to agree with what I’m saying. This includes many bishops.

My generation raised up the next generation. Since we weren’t taught the faith, we raised children who weren’t either.

We need a renewal in catechesis. I feel passionately about this. In my Diocese of Marquette, I directed the development of a diocesan curriculum for faith formation for grades K-8. It is a solid, substantive, systematic, and sequential curriculum, which builds from one year to the next. It is topical, based on the pillars of the catechism. Every parish is expected to follow this curriculum.

Now I’m turning my attention toward adult faith formation. If we can get catechesis and the liturgy right, we’ll be well on our way to the renewal and growth of the Church for which we hope.

One thing I would encourage Catholics to do, is NOT to dwell in what we were cheated out of.  It is good to take the time to understand that this or that happened, but don't stay there.  It can cause bitterness and anger.  We have to move past that, and move in a constructive direction, forward.  Seeing a bishop affirm, publicly, what we have painfully experienced is the first step to healing open wounds.  This is all just a very hopeful sign to me that bishops are beginning to open up and speak frankly about the problems.   I might add, that I know people who were at the forefront of the "spirit of Vatican II" who now look back, and are questioning things, or having regrets about having done this or that.  It is important to recognize that many people are taking a closer look and rediscovering what was right with Vatican II and what was wrong with how it has been spun for the last 40-50 years.

What he said about the spiritual life also struck a chord with me, and he gives the recipe for an authentic, interior renewal with God.  It is one that I went through very soon after arriving at Assumption Grotto where these very things were emphasized and offered.  It's not uncommon to see priests head to the confessionals outside of posted hours when there is some kind of event.  He also discusses mental prayer, which is something Fr. Perrone has talked about very often.  Sitting silently before the Blessed Sacrament, especially, provides an opportunity for us to "hear" God, above all the other voices in our lives.

What is a basic program of spirituality you recommend to the faithful?

Bishop Sample: That is a good and important question. I emphasize the importance of a strong sacramental life, especially participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I recommend frequent reception of the sacrament of penance; the fall-off in its use worries me greatly. We priests and bishops need to preach often about the importance of confession and be available to hear confessions.

It’s important that we learn to pray on a deep level, not just vocal but mental prayer and contemplation. We’re so busy in our lives and the world is so noisy; we need to learn to be quiet and listen. We need to develop a personal, deep relationship with the Lord and pour our hearts out to him in prayer.

And, we need to stay close to the Lord as part of the Body of Christ, the Church. This means being part of the local Church under the diocesan bishop, being docile to the word of God and humbly accepting the teachings of the Church.

See the full interview with Bishop Sample at Catholic World Report

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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