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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Trying to Save the Souls of Teens

There has been an issue the past few years with young people preparing for Confirmation. A cynical joke is shared that Confirmation is the sacrament one receives before leaving the Church. They disappear from Sunday Mass and sometimes even their parents go with them. Sacraments are treated as a list to check off instead of as transitions to new ways of living and conversion. When we talk to young people a few are really attentive, some seek to humor us and others do not even attempt to show interest in faith. Trying to reach them, I once invited each of the youth in the Confirmation class to share five of their favorite pieces of music. My plan was to listen to the music so as to extract themes for their retreat. The music was so violent and pornographic that it made me sick and my DRE became worried for me. Part of me became angry and I was tempted to withhold Confirmation altogether. I challenged them about the tragic disconnect between such filth and their faith in Jesus Christ. Did it make a difference? I can only hope.

Every year is such a struggle. They neglect parish service projects, community service and their required classes. Assignments are not turned in and there seems to be a general apathy. Instead of helping, a few parents paint the situation as adversarial, exaggerating the preparedness of their teens. Over the years I have had wonderful volunteers and my current DRE is the best I have ever known; but what can we do if there is no partnership from the parents in the home?

As much as their indifference wounds me, I would give them chance upon chance, to come to their senses and turn around. The challenges we face from a secular and hedonistic culture and media seems to overwhelm our few minutes of formation. Christian faith and values must be taught in the home. Living our faith should come, arm-in-arm, with knowing and loving our faith. We must also exert a strong effort against negative influences. Peers should not include bad companions. Foul visual and audio media should be thrown away. We need to be selective as to what we watch and listen. Another element is dress and posture. Young teens should neither date nor dress in provocative clothing. One critic has lamented that clothing styles for children and teens are illustrative of a pedophile and pederast culture. We are allowing our children to be poisoned and then expect a short weekly religion class, to which they come late, to somehow counteract the deadly effects.

We keep trying because we care. We don’t want to throw anyone out because of the likely concern that they will never come back. This year I am personally offering make-up classes for those who have missed required Confirmation classes. They are good young people and I see a level of hope. We have to keep hope alive.