Thursday, February 28, 2008

The "c"atholic Religious "Education" Congress

Yes. I intentionally spelled Catholic with a small "c", and I use the word "Education" lightly... Let me explain... The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, hosted by Cardinal Mahoney will be taking place this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim CA. Actually, the "Youth Day" was today. I began attending the Congress in the early 80's when I was still in high school. I had a blast going. It was a day away from my parents, I got to sing and dance and talk with my friends... 'hang out'.... What did I learn?... hhhhmmmm... I remember going to a talk on "Zen"..., there was one on "Native American Spirituality".... There were some that I remember about listening to secular music and finding a "spiritual message" great to use for "youth Masses"and, of course loving yourself JUST the way you are..... kewl, huh?...

After I made my Confirmation my sophomore year of HS, I continued to "mentor" those younger than me, my older sister and I even had a youth group. And we continued to go to Congress, every year. It wasn't all questionable... There was a great priest that I remember that led a deaf congregation in the LA area, that I always enjoyed listening to... Oh, yes, he was deaf, too, but could still speak, as well as sign... But the last time I attended was 12 years ago. I remember because I was WAY pregnant with my oldest child. I remember, that year, how hard it was to find classes to attend, looking through the book, that actually seemed "Catholic".... I had begun questioning WHAT some of these classes were actually teaching... I kept tabs when I was there, and of the nine classes I was signed up to take over the weekend, at least three of them weren't EVEN Catholic speakers! This blew me away!! Wasn't this a "CATHOLIC EDUCATION" Conference?? Hello??!!

The following year, I just couldn't do it anymore... I had read Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating, and my own faith has started to make REAL sense. I could no longer tolerate going to a conference that promoted to "Educate" Catholic Educators from people that weren't even Catholic!! I could no longer sit through a liturgy that included titles such as the "Black Mass" (sponsored by African American Catholics) and the "Native American Mass" and the "Vietnamese Mass" and the "Youth Mass" and "Dancing and Singing Mass" and watch scantily dressed women in leotards gyrate around the Altar of My Lord... I just couldn't do it anymore... I continued reading book after book after book, from Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, Jeff Cavins, Tim Staples and more, to learn my faith, basically, all over again! I was amazed at how much I didn't know... Of course the Congress wasn't the only thing fueling my desire to know more. I was also faced with my husband, who was not raised Catholic, but in an Assembly of God Church. HE questioned me CONSTANTLY about "why??" and I had to have a better answer than "Because, that's what I was always taught..."

The more I learned the Truth and the more I was drawn in to my Catholic Faith, the less I could handle "catholic-lite". My husband, thankfully, has also done his fair share of investigating, with history being one of his favorite subjects. A great turning point for us was when I was asked to lead the RCIA team for our parish at the time. I was eager to share what I had been learning, and was even a little envious of all that I had missed when I went through my own Confirmation classes... But it was all good, because God had brought us full circle... and every year my pastor would send me and all of our other Religious Ed teachers to LA for the Congress. After that trip 12 years ago though, I asked if, instead of the Congress, he would consider sending us to the Catholic Family Conference held in Long Beach. I think, skeptically, he agreed. But the Catholic Family Conference had more of the Truth I had been learning and I knew I would come back with WAY more to share with my RCIA than I could ever pick up at the RE Congress. I was blessed with being able to continue with the RCIA for four more years. I was given the opportunity to educate others about all that I had missed in my own religious education. I was given the opportunity to speak TRUTH. I gave it up only after my daughter (third child) was born...

So, when I was confronted at the store by an old friend yesterday, who asked me if I was going to the "Anaheim Congress" this weekend, I answered, sort of abruptly, "Oh, no... no, no, no, no.... it's not Catholic..." I answered without thinking... She said, "oh... okay... well, that's your opinion..." I apologized for being abrupt, but I just couldn't bring myself to go anymore. I know that A LOT of people go, and they just GUSH about it afterwards and how wonderful it is, but gosh, have they even noticed that it's not even called the "Catholic" Religious Education Conference, anymore?... but just the "Religious Ed Conference"... When I tried to explain to my friend about the masses and the fluff and dance, and blah, blah, blah, she said, "Oh, you mean it's not 'traditional' Catholic..." I answered, "No. It's not Catholic in any sense...." I'm sorry! But it's NOT Catholic when EVERYONE has to have their OWN version of Mass and they are all free to make it "comfortable" to whatever they are feeling at the time, for their culture or whatever... I tried to smile, and be cordial. I did tell her to take a look at the Catholic Resource Center and check out the Catholic Family Conference. Then I told her to enjoy her weekend. I wanted to say, "But don't expect to learn anything Catholic"... but I didn't.... I do have SOME boundaries!


Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

"Catholicism and Fundamentalism" was an important step in my development, too. Great book.

Lee said...

It was a first for me. And my husband was the one who bought it! lol. But he didn't read it until a year or two AFTER me. yup... major turning point.

Gigi said...

You are so right about the Catholic Family Conference. Even before my husband was Catholic, (he was studying it) he said, "I want to go to that conference every year!" We went for 4 consecutive years- haven't in the last two due to various conflicts.

Sometimes we have to search diligently to find the authentic Catholic teaching, but it IS out there. For me, it was finding a retreat in SW Arizona that wasn't all fluffy, new-age stuff. I asked two people - my daughter, who lives in Michigan, and a friend who is a Marian catechist. They BOTH recommended a Miles Christi retreat. And, boy, were they right!

Keep up the good discernment! Gigi

John Donlan said...

So very much of the religious corruption starts with those who have the responsibility to teach religion.

It's true.....the more you try to get closer to God, the more the evil one will try to keep you from doing it.

Have you ever noticed how corrupt many of the religious orders are today?

In the end, we all have to face God alone. I wonder what those people will say when God asks them why they promoted the feminist agenda and New Age thinking....when His Son, Jesus, had already taught them the Truth?

Lee said...


Last summer was the first time we missed the Catholic Family Conference because of some financial conflicts. Before that we had gone the previous 10 years. We always came away with SUCH excitement! And it was SO nice that they had something for everyone. The kids and teens all had their own programs and were always excited what each got to do. I don't think I could ever promote it enough!

Lee said...

John D,

I think the tide is turning a bit, but it is frustrating when you still have to monitor everything that is labled as "Catholic" to make sure that it really is!

I do believe that JPII did a lot in trying to teach and get the TRUTH out there instead of letting people just "run free" with their own versions of Vat II. I think Pope Benedict is doing even more to get people to toe the line. There are just too many that have been hearing the Truth (thanks to the re-emergence of strong Catholic apologetics) , like me, for example, and are tired of (in my case, a little angry) of the pseudo-Catholicism that I had been fed for all those years. Thanks for your comments!