My lovely wife Sharon told me about an experience she had yesterday driving through the neighborhood. On the bijou sign in front of a nearby Catholic parish, she saw an announcement for "Mass in the Grass" this Saturday evening. The Mass will be celebrated in the park across the street from the consecrated Church (maybe 40 yards away), which will be closed for Mass that evening.
I chalked it up to the usual type of foolishness, thinking to myself, "Hey, if it's a picnic meal, it ought to be in the park." But Sharon was more dramatically affected.
"Mass in the Grass!" she said, "The only way I'd go is if I had smoked it." *
While we're on the subject of nutty parish activities, I had to pass along this little vignette as some evidence of my satisfaction with our homeschool religion program.
In the bulletin of this parish, alongside notice of "Mass in the Grass", was a letter from the school principal relating to parishioners the progress of their progeny. The principal wrote about the 7th grade (remember, SEVENTH grade-- which is either one year before, or the year of, confirmation) religion class.
They were given an assignment to write a prayer to God describing their favorite color.
Yes, you read that correctly. Let it just wash over you. Bask in it. Ready? OK.
The principal published two examples. Here's one:
"God, the color I'm praying to you about is orange. To me orange is a very vibrant and happy color. It reminds me of all the happy things in my life. The color orange also makes me think of the sun and all the great sunny days I've had so far and of how many more on are the way. To me orange also seems like a Thanksgiving color. When I see this color it's like it's telling me to always be close to my family and to be thankful for them.
So, God, please always remember that I am thankful for the simpler things in life. Please help me to never lose track of the real things that make me happy like the days that are just 'normal' when I get to be home and to be with my family. Help me never to forget all the good things that I am blessed with. Thank you for all the things that are orange to me. Amen."
First, I don't want anyone to think I am making fun of this student. Not at all. I think, considering the absolute inanity of the assignment, they did the best they could with it. When I was in 7th grade, I don't know that I could have turned in a prayer to God describing my favorite color without getting an in-school suspension. I mean, come on.
Perhaps this assignment might have been suitable for first graders, or kindergartners. See, Billy, talk to God-- He made the colors! And so on. Is it any surprise that when the upper classes of a Catholic grade school get this type of fare from their religion curriculum, and participate in some JustFaith social programming, that they are an easy mark for that college roommate that asks them to their protestant Bible study? Thinking happy thoughts and being taken to Mass in the Grass (if their parents go to Mass) just isn't the type of armor that's needed to resist the secular culture. These students ought to be getting apologetics and catechism in the classroom and a properly celebrated Mass in Church.
Will they know what it means to be Catholic?
Maybe Sharon had an insight on this Mass in the Grass thing. I think the religion department is smoking it anyway.
* For the record, my lovely wife is not, nor has been, a user of any illicit drug. And yes, that includes my wedding day.