Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What do Fr.Robert Barron and I have in common?



Let's see. He is a priest and world famous preacher,evangelist, and YouTube sensation.  I'm a mother of seven and obscure  writer.

But Father B. and I are the same age. When he talks about growing up in the post-Vatican II era of "beige Catholicicsm" , a.k.a. "banner & collage catechesis" I know exactly what he's talking about. Those were dark times. Or at least, beige times.

Today I learned something else that Fr. Barron and I have in common.
I had EWTN on again for Pope Francis' vespers at St. Peter's basilica. After it ended, EWTN had to fill in ten minutes or so with various short clips before it was time for the regularly schedule  program to begin. There was Fr. Barron, speaking about his first year of college. "Who is the most important person in your life?" the teacher asked. "Naturally we all replied 'God'", Father recalled,"Then the teacher challenged us by asking us how often we talk to this most important person, this best friend--once a week? once a month?"

Robert Barron took his teacher's words to heart, and decided to meet the challenge of maintaining frequent contact with God by--you guessed it--getting a breviary and praying the Liturgy of the Hours faithfully. He was nineteen years old. A year after he made that decision, another college kid made a similar decision.
(That would be me.)

So Father Barron and I share a lifelong attachment to the prayer of the Church, not just as liturgy, but as a way to connect personally with the Lord multiple times per day.















12 comments:

  1. Daria, that was a great read. Thanks for sharing it.

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  2. Lovely. Another thing in common - you are both clearly alive in you vocation in life.

    Another connection, Fr. Barron, and you and I are the same age. At age 19 I made my first commitment to Jesus Christ [in the Protestant parlance of my time, "as Lord and Saviour of my life"]. Had I known anything about anything like the LoTH I would have jumped in with both - um, hands. However, it was not until years later as a Pentecostal pastor that I met an Anglican Priest who introduced me to their Book of Common prayer and something called a liturgical calendar. If he thought me some kind of spiritual provincial [by which I mean backwater red neck etc] he was kind enough to not mention it. My love for the LoTH came later and really, this comment reminds me it should be my first guest post which you are waiting on. ;-)

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  4. It seems we all have things in common. I’m only a year younger. Although I’m Jewish, I came to faith in Christ in 1976 and was baptized in a Pentecostal Church. After many years of drifting through different Christian Denominations and living as a home alone Christian (no church attendance or affiliation), I was received into the Catholic Church. Four years later during spiritual direction, my priest suggested that since I was so into the Bible, I should try the Loth. So I started with the one volume Christian Prayer and eventually made my way to the four-volume Loth. I’ve only been praying Loth for three or perhaps four years, so I’m not as experienced as ye all. Several times a year, I try to quit. Sometimes it’s my dislike of the 1970’s translation, or frustration with the directions, and sometimes it is just fatigue from my job. I tell myself I’m under no obligation to pray Loth and that I’m placing myself under a burden that neither God nor the Church demands. So, I give myself a break, sometimes a day or two, infrequently, a week if I’m really exhausted. Ironically, I always come back to it. When I have stopped for a week, I feel disorientated. My day is not organized, disjointed. So it has become a part of my life daily and hourly. There’s something about the Loth as the way to pray and read Scripture daily and hourly.

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    1. Your story gives me hope, Alan, for the many high school classmates I've lost touch with who left the Catholic faith and got baptized as Pentecostals in the mid seventies. I wonder if any of them came back. I have come to realize that given the poor religious instruction most of them received in those days, they were not culpable for leaving the Catholic church, and joining a denomination whose creed was solid, vibrant, and offered a real community of believers was really a step in the right direction. Maybe other steps have occurred since then. Regarding the LOTH becoming at times a burden: I regularly give myself "permission" to reduce the number of hours I pray when life gets hectic. This Christmas break, when had thirteen family members under my roof for several days, was one of those times. Now that everyone as left and my youngest went back to school, I'm easing back into the full routine (five hours although even then I've been known to crash into bed without Night Prayer.) We layfolk have the best of both worlds with the privilege of being able to offer liturgical prayer without the obligation to do so.

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    2. "We layfolk have the best of both worlds with the privilege of being able to offer liturgical prayer without the obligation to do so." After many false starts I now do MP EP OR and NP [NP with my wife] pretty much daily. I rarely get the Daytime done and have only recently stopped guilting myself. The net result of laying off the self guilt trip is that I more fully engage and enjoy the Hours I do.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this! I'm about 10 years younger than you, but
    I was raised a "beige Catholic" as well. I can definitely identify with "banner and collage catechesis." Only I was nearly 40 before I took ownership of my faith. When I have the opportunity to speak at retreats, I point out that, like Moses, I wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

    I am SO thankful that my two boys (13 and 15) have taken ownership of their faith at such a young age...

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    1. I'd love to hear one of your retreat talks, Doug. Yes, it's great to see our kids really "getting it". Our immigrant ancestors worked hard for their kids to have a more prosperous life. We work and pray for ours to have a deeper faith than we had.

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  6. Daria, it's good to know I'm not the only person who sometimes struggles with doing all five hours daily. Like you, the hour I'm most likely to skip is night prayer. Even though it’s short and easy to do, often, I’m too tired. You know, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Thanks for letting me know that you sometimes cut back on the other hours when life is hectic. I can be hard on myself and it’s good to know other lay Catholics also give themselves permission to skip hours.

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  7. Regarding the “Beige Catholic” syndrome, I have some thoughts. I’m Catholic for less than a decade, so my theory might be wrong and I wouldn’t want to debate the issue. Jews and Catholics have much in common besides the Old Testament. I’m speaking more about the ones living in Canada, USA, Britain, etc. Many Jews and Catholics do not practice their religion, but still think they belong to their religious group. If you criticize their religion of birth, they will be offended even though they really don’t believe or practice it. Large percentages have assimilated into the modern world. In the early 1980’s and to the present, there has been considerable growth in the Orthodox Jewish communities, here and in Israel. Many non-religious Jews, raised in Conservative, Reformed, or secular homes, are coming back to the faith. But they’re not coming back to the liberal Jewish synagogues (I’m speaking in generalities) but to the strictest Orthodox sects. Orthodox Judaism is growing exponentially. I’ve noticed the same trend in Protestant Churches. The liberal mainline churches seem to be losing members, even though they have modernized and are allowing woman ministers, gay ministers, divorce and re-marriage, etc. The Protestant Churches that have seen the most growth since the 1970’s are the ones that have a strict sense of holiness, a deep dedication to the Bible with a more literal interpretation of it. Since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has modernized the Mass (I suppose to make it more palatable to a larger percentage of the population). The priest now faces the laity rather than the Tabernacle; Latin is almost never used, modern translations of the Bible used during Mass (Many Protestant Churches have this too), modern music, the requirement of weekly confession changed to once a year, inadequate instruction in the faith, etc. In the process, at least in North America, the sense of sacredness has been lost. When Cradle Catholics are looking for something deep and meaningful, they find themselves attracted to Born-Again Evangelical Churches, JW’s, Mormonism, etc. When non-religious Catholics decide they’ve had enough of the world, they too are drawn to churches that offer the Bible with a strict interpretation. I think Vatican II had the opposite affect, at least in North America, intended by its authors. Not realizing how far the modern world would fall into sin and decadence, the authors of Vatican II failed to foresee the modernization of the Church would cause many to leave rather than draw more in. Catholics need a sacred place of worship, with sacred language, sacred music, and a sacred English translation of the Bible, more reverence and awe. What people need and want is a church unlike the world.

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    1. You make lots of good points, Alan, although arguing the impact of Vatican II, and the changes in the mass, is an argument that will go on forever, and needs nuance on both sides. For example, I've read in creditable sources that the churches were already emptying in Europe well before the council began--our situation in the USA of the "golden age" of 1930s thru 50s catholicism has reasons behind it that were unique to the American situation. Russell Shaw has a wonderful book on this topic called American Church: Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, Uncertain Future. Well worth buying. I very much agree about the need for reverent liturgy, music, ,etc. On the other hand, plenty of converts TO the church found even the typical post-vatican II mass very much Other and Sacred compared to the typical hymn-sing plus sermon they were accustomed to. Several of these whom I know have since gone to an EF mass and said they wouldn't have known what to make of that had they attended one as protestants and likely would have been repelled, rather than attracted to Catholicism as a result. But I guess God's grace manages to get through to those of good will no matter what. One thing I will correct you on (unless you can prove otherwise) is that weekly confession was never a requirement, and my old Baltimore catechism backs me up. Once a year is and has been the minimum requirement and one of the precepts of the church, although much more frequent confession is always the recommendation. During my first two years of religious education, before the "beige era" set in, our teachers recommended once per month. Once a week was certainly was a very common practice until the late sixties--partly from greater devotion and partly from a mistaken impression on the part of many that one should only receive Communion once per confession whether or not one had committed mortal sins. (the USA church was largely formed by the Irish and a very rigorous, even jansenistic vein ran strong. Pius X's pleas for early and frequent communion took a long time to sink in. My mother made hers at the age of 12 in the 1930s). After Vatican II we had that classic swing of the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. But much ink has been spilled on this topic and I guess my adding to it will not help!

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    2. Daria, thanks for responding and all the work you put into this site to keep it going. Regarding the mandatory weekly confession, I was just talking off the top of my head and anticipated you correcting me. My pre-Vatican mindset comes from Hollywood movies and TV shows where they showed Catholics going to confession on Friday to prepare for Sunday Mass. I didn’t realize the requirement for confession is the same in both pre and post V-II. Your other point is well taken, too. If my first visit to a Catholic Church had been the pre V-II Mass, it may have been too overwhelming and I may not have returned. The same goes for my early years in the Catholic Church, I may not have stayed. After spending so many years in Evangelical Born-Again Churches, the post V-II Mass was liturgical enough for me. It’s only in the past few years, that I have been desiring a more traditional liturgy.

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