Thursday, December 17, 2015

The catechesis you forget. . .

Pastors are replete with stories of parents who do not wish to force religion on their children and so they do not make them go to church or Sunday school or catechism class.  The parents presume that theirs is the nobler path -- that God loves people who want to go to church more than those who attend because spouse or parents require it.  There is something almost unseemly about forcing a child to do what the kid does not -- even when it is probably in their best interest.  Such has surely helped fuel the resistance to childhood vaccinations as much as any rational arguments.  Nobody wants to see their children cry.  So we pastors are often left with little recourse but to take what is handed to us and be happy with the little time for instruction a reluctant parent and a rebellious child will allow.

But the parents and pastors often forget that catechesis will take place even without the formal instruction of a Sunday school or catechism class and even apart from the formal liturgical setting of Sunday morning Divine Service.  Every day our children are being catechized but it is the subtle catechesis of the media, of the school system and the values hidden in textbook and classroom, and of their peers.  Children do not grow up values neutral.  They do not escape influence from teachers and their teaching.  There are no truly objective settings for knowledge to be imparted.  In fact, by not requiring children to go to church, Sunday school, or catechism class the parents are exhibiting values and teaching their children something about religion.

My point is relatively simple.  Your children are listening to what they hear in music and media and movies.  They are paying attention to what they see you as parents do (and what you do not do).  They are being influenced by the values of others who may or may not mirror the same moral code and truth to which the parents adhere.  It will happen and it is happening.

No parent has exclusive right to the influence and instruction of their children.  In our age and culture this is shared by people with whom we might agree and those with whom we have no choice but to adhere and those we are not even paying attention to. . .   So even when the parent DOES require the child to go to church, to attend Sunday school, and to be a part of a catechism process leading to confirmation, that is but one side of a multi-faceted source of influence and instruction.

The parent is always the primary teacher and example for their children.  By choosing to ignore worship, Sunday school, and formal catechesis you have already taught your children about the esteem in which you hold Scripture, catechism, and the worship of God.  When you agree with the coach who insists that your child must attend every practice, you are teaching your child something and when you disagree with the church's call to worship regularly (weekly?), pray daily, learn the Scriptures and catechism you are teaching your children a powerful lesson about what is important and what is not.

Teach your children well...   At home and at church!  Teach them first from your own voice and your regular example and then using the full resources of the parish (from Sunday school to catechism class).  And make sure that they understand that as a family you come to the Lord's House on the Lord's Day.  It is no guarantee that your children will continue in the faith but it will balance the anti-religious teaching and immoral value system that is inherent in most of our entertainment oriented culture.  Just don't lie to yourself about how you want your child to desire worship and instruction in the faith on their own...  You have already decided for them that the voice of the faith will be silenced while all around them people are shouting what is right, what is wrong, what is valuable, what is important, and how to live their lives.  There is nothing noble about abdicating your responsibility and turning over the hearts and minds of your children to one point of view -- one that you have forgotten even to acknowledge -- because you worry about forcing them to do something they do not want to do.  In fact, it is the cowardly way!


Kirk Skeptic said...

I've forced my children to do a lot of things they didn't want to do; eg clean their rooms, do their homework, etc; why should churh or catechesis be any different?

Mabel said...

My friends and siblings and I viewed catechism classes like having to take algebra. Did not especially like it, just did it to get through it. Can't remember any of either now.