It's that time of year again. All the kiddies are back in school and it is time for Faith Formation (Sunday School, Religious Education, Catechesis, whatever terms appeals) to begin.
I am a Catechist (teacher, leader, supposed-grown-up) for a class of ninth graders and have been given this year's theme: Morality. Seriously? Couldn't we take on something a little easier like the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in Latin? Where to even begin?
The sad truth of the matter is morality is a hard lesson to teach young ones living in today's society. And how do I do so without appearing to condemn people they admire - like, for example, their parents?
I can't tell you how many of the students come to Faith Formation but do not attend church. Personally, I am thrilled they are even coming to Faith Formation. This tells me that somewhere there is a seed; their parents see it is as important to maintain this connection whether it involves attending church or not. Sadly, the excuse for many is the Mass schedule does not coincide with football, soccer, cheer leading, baseball, etc. We all need to make choices...
These students know who Lindsay Lohan is. Same with Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. Thank Heavens they also, for the majority, see them for the jokes they are. But they also see that despite their behavior and life choices they are always in the media, getting to travel all over the world, have biggest and brightest of everything, and are rich. They are held to different standards than us "normal" people. How do we not judge them while realizing we need to live our lives by a brighter light?
Where do we begin to teach morality to teenagers as they learn of politicians taking advantage of those who put them in office? Or corporate leaders stealing to the point of creating destitution for masses of people? Local community leaders lining their pockets off the tax money that is forcing their grandparents from their homes? These kids are much more in tune with our world than I was at their age.
How do they learn it is in giving that we receive when they actually believe they need cell phones, ipods, and laptops to exist? And woe to the one student who shared that her parents would not let her on FaceBook. The idea of loving your neighbor as yourself needed to be reiterated as they worked to regain their composure from this shocking news.
My class is open forum; we will talk about anything they want to bring up. It has been a blessing and an experience to facilitate conversations that take lives of their own as these kids articulate their beliefs and why they are held so dear. Some times I am startled to hear their interpretations and how off the mark they are. Other times I think they are so naive I want to hold them all close and protect them. Many times I believe we underestimate them and what they know.
This is going to be an interesting year.