Tag Archives: youth

The Teachings Our Generation Missed

Receiving the Eucharist is a big deal to us Catholics, yes?  Ok, good.  Glad we are on the same page.  However, I have this sneaking suspicion that our generation missed, or just wasn’t told often enough, some basic rules about receiving the Eucharist.  Maybe the older folks are afraid we can’t handle them, or are just worried that we’ll think they’re uncool or something.  Regardless, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.

You ready?

(1) We have an obligation to attend mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation.  If we miss mass without a serious reason, we’re guilty of mortal sin and need to go to confession before we can receive the Eucharist again.

(2) We have an obligation to go to confession at least once a year.  If it has been over one year since the last time you went to reconciliation, you should not be receiving the Eucharist.

***Update Re the Comment Box (in other words, stealing from the comment box):

“The once a year thing is interesting… the most recent code of canon law requires that we confess our grave sins at least once a year (989). Which, legally speaking, makes the most sense, since the sacrament of confession is actually only strictly necessary for the forgiveness of mortal sins. Venial sins do not need to be brought to confession in order to be forgiven.
However, practically and spiritually speaking, it makes sense that we would need to go to confession at least once a year, no matter what. Because even if we don’t need, strictly speaking, to confess venial sins in the sacrament of confession, we should, because it makes us aware of our sins, we receive grace and strength to overcome temptation and grow in holiness, and we actually hear the words of Jesus  saying, ‘I forgive you'”

(3) We also have an obligation to receive the Eucharist at least once during the season of Easter each year.  Translation: if you’re a baptized Catholic just going to mass every Sunday but not receiving because you’re aware of a mortal sin on your conscience, you need to go to confession sometime before Easter season is over this year so that you can receive communion.

The point of all of this: We cannot receive communion in a state of mortal sin.  Just because we made our first communion when we were seven does not automatically make us forever eligible to receive.  We have to live it out, too.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

-1 Cor 11:27-30

Yes, you read that right: Sickness and even death as a result of receiving communion in the state of mortal sin.  Of course, we should be wayyy more concerned about our spiritual health than our physical health, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the two are mutually exclusive.  There have been many miracles in which people were healed from physical ailments after going to confession.

I’m not usually about fire and brimstone, but pretending it doesn’t exist is just not at all helpful.  The fact of the matter is that sometimes the truth is scary.  That is, of course, until we decide to live in accordance with it.  :)

7 Steps to Being Young & Catholic

Ok, so I’ve gotten some questions from readers asking about the specifics of how exactly to do this—that is, how is one to go about being “young and Catholic” in the world today?

Below is a battle plan of sorts…

1.)  Regular Mass and Adoration

The non-denoms have it right when they say that relationship with Christ is what your faith has to be grounded on.  But you won’t get there if you don’t make it a point to schedule time with Him.  For this reason the Church makes it mandatory for all of us to go to mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation—but mass is offered every day of the week.  Sure, I have friends with whom I only check in for an hour or so a week, but the people closest to me in my life I talk to on a daily basis.  It’s true that we can pray to Christ whenever we want and wherever we are (and we should!).  It’s also true that you’ll never be more united with Christ than in those moments after you receive Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  How close of a relationship do you want?

Reality Check: Many of us young people can’t make it to mass on a daily basis (especially if we’re not at a Catholic school or do not have a particularly vibrant Catholic parish nearby).  To those I say first of all to still try.  If you have trouble getting up every morning at 6:30 to make it to 7:30am mass, make it a goal to go to daily mass one day out of the week.  Christ will honor your sacrifice of sleep.  :)  If you can’t make it to mass and receive Christ in the Eucharist, make a spiritual communion insteadAnd find out the hours of your parish’s Blessed Sacrament (or Adoration) Chapel.  Make it a habit to spend at least an hour in there a week.

 

2.)  Regular Confession

We’re talking once every two weeks.  …Seriously?  Yes.  I know the typical rule of thumb nowadays is once a month, but I personally find myself needing to go more often than that.  And for me, it’s much easier to answer the question “Did I go last week” than, “Have I gone yet this month?”  Let’s face it: we all do little things that hurt our relationship with Christ on a daily basis.  What kind of friend would you be if you didn’t say, “I’m sorry”?  And besides, who couldn’t use more grace?

Reality Check: A lot of us are afraid of confession.  It’s not that we can’t do it every two weeks, it’s that we don’t want to.  But I promise you, after the first time you go to confession saying, “It has been two weeks since my last confession,” you will want to come back the next time being able to say the same thing.  Make it a habit and you won’t be sorry.  No one regrets having his or her sins forgiven.

 

3.)  Spiritual Reading

If you’re not reading the Bible, or something written by a saint, or a sound theologian of the Church, you’re going to find it difficult to grow in your faith.  Our love for God grows the more we know about Him.  Plus, reading will make that hour a week you’ve just committed to spend in the chapel go by that much quicker :)

Reality Check:  Where am I to find said books?  The Bible is a good place to start!  The word of God in the very words of God—can’t get much closer than that!  Other books I recommend: Introduction to the Devout Life (St. Francis De Sales), I Believe in Love, True Devotion to Mary, Confessions of Saint Augustine.  Send me an email if you want more suggestions.

 

4.)  Be honest.

If your friends don’t know that you’re Catholic, there’s a problem.  You don’t have to turn into the crazy religious kid who doesn’t talk about anything but church, but do let your friends (religious and non-religious) know that you’re Catholic.  Going to confession on Saturday?  Invite your Catholic friends.  Headed to Mass?  Invite all of your friends (but politely let the non-Catholics know beforehand that communion is only for Catholics living in a state of grace).  Speak up if someone bashes the Church, and maybe skip that frat party on Friday if you know that it will lead to you having to go to confession on Saturday.

Reality Check: It’s a little late for some of us.  We have friends who already know us as someone we no longer want to be.  Time for a heart-to-heart.  Lay it all out on the table.  Write a letter if you don’t think you’ll be able to say it all.  Look, I know I used to do this or I told you I’ve done that, but I’m trying to change.  I’m going to take my faith more seriously and as my friend I just wanted you to know what’s going on with me. But please: Don’t drop your friends for Jesus.  He wouldn’t do that, and it’s not a very good witness to faith if your friends think you dropped them because they’re “not holy enough”. Now, you may find that you can no longer take part in certain activities and as a result some friendships may naturally fade away, but make it a point to be upfront and honest so it’s not perceived as a personal attack.

 

5.)  No really, be honest.

You don’t have to pretend that you’re perfect now that you’ve decided to take your faith seriously.  In fact if you do, no one will take you seriously.  Your Facebook statuses do not all have to be about Jesus or taken from the Bible.  You’re allowed to have a social life outside of church.  You can listen to non-Christian music.  Most importantly, when you mess up, own up.  It’s human to struggle.

 

6.)  Find Catholic friends

Like I said, don’t ditch your non-Catholic friends (so long as they’re not leading you into sin).  But it’s important to have friends within the Church, too.  Why?  Because being a Catholic is difficult, and human beings are not able to survive without friends.  Sometimes you just need the friend next to you in the pew, or someone to call when you don’t understand the Church’s teaching on something.  They don’t need to have the right answer for you, but you need someone who understands the struggle, and who can encourage you in faith.

Reality Check:  That’s nice, but what if the only other Catholics in your town have gray hair?  Two suggestions: 1) Pray, pray, pray that God will send a friend your way.  And keep an open heart—be a friend to everyone.  He could be preparing your non-Catholic friend’s heart to receive His truth through your friendship.  2) Make friends with the old people!  They’re probably awesome and full of stories and great advice.

 

7.)  Do well in school (and/or at work).

Chances are good that God is not calling you to drop out of school and go off into the desert to pray.  It could happen, but it’s more likely that He is calling you to live your life for Him right where you are: in school, at work, at the gym, etc.  You really want to be a good witness of Christ?  You have to strive for excellence in all that you do.  Period.  In other words: Do your homework.  You may not be able to get straight A’s, but you better try your hardest.  Offer your hard work up to Christ as a prayer.  Jesus didn’t cut corners, so neither can we.

Reality Check: When asked, “Is it befitting a cardinal to ski?” Blessed JPII replied, “What is unbefitting a cardinal is to ski badly.”  :)  Seriously.  You cannot be a Christian and settle for mediocrity.

Bottom Line?  Do good, avoid evil.  Easier said than done, of course.  But be encouraged!  You are not alone in the struggle.

Last Friday Night

A few months back, I wrote a post about how the music we listen to—whether we want it to or not—has a real effect on the way we behave.

With that, I thought I’d write a bit of a reflection on what, unfortunately, seems to be turning into a sort of “anthem” for people (especially girls) around my age.  I’m talking about Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”—currently the 3rd most downloaded song on iTunes:

“Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

…This Friday night
Do it all again”

I could go on, but I assume most of you have heard it, or if not, you get the picture.

Katy Perry is known for her catchy, upbeat songs with lyrics meant to shock.  After all, she first topped the charts with her 2008 hit, “I kissed a girl (and I liked it)”.  The mentality of her music and those who listen to it is one of a certain type of mockery towards any sort of perceived moral authority.  It’s not that she intends disrespect, but the thought of her (and her listeners) goes something like the following:

Whether people like it or not, this is reality.  People our age do things like this.  Rather than condemn and judge, we should embrace different ways of living, and then maybe by doing so, we will eliminate the unnecessary guilt and shame attached to partying, sleeping around, etc.

(and you thought I was just some naïve Catholic with no understanding of the way “the real world” thinks :) )

My main issue with songs like this is that they only last around 4 minutes.  In the real world, we don’t live within the parameters of any 4-minute, feel-good song.  And no matter how many times we try to play it on repeat, eventually it ends, or gets old, and our “nothing can take me down” mentality fades out with the final chorus.

Unfortunately for us, once that happens there is usually a new song to live our lives to for a short time, and then it takes us even longer to find what we are truly looking for.  Because when it comes down to it, what we are looking for to vindicate us of feelings of shame or regret cannot be found in a catchy melody or the lyrics of a song (as profound or “meaningful” as they may be).

If you get nothing else from this post, remember this:  We are already living in a world with pretty low standards when it comes to morality.  The fact that “Last Friday Night” is such a popular song speaks to this.  So if you are feeling shame or regret because of something you are doing, it is probably not due to other people “judging you”.

Just some food for thought.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Feel free to leave a comment!

Article first published as Last Friday Night on Technorati.

Littlest Lane is now “Young & Catholic”

Notice something different?  I’m excited to announce that I’m taking the blog in a slightly different direction, and it will now be written under the name of “Young and Catholic”.  (youngandcatholic.net) Read on and be sure to check the new About page for more info.

Why the Name Change?

Let’s face it.  It’s who I have been all along, and the only person trying to pretend otherwise was me.  Of course I still welcome and encourage my non-Catholic readers to stick around (no baptism required), I just thought I’d finally wake up and face the target market.

Will the content change?

Not really.  I have always written my posts from a Catholic perspective (because I always write from my perspective, and I am Catholic).  I’m just going to be more up front about it now.  So it’ll be dating advice from the perspective of a young Catholic; reflections on life from a young Catholic; etc.  Same content; different tagline.

Does this mean I can pretty much assume everything you say is official Catholic Church teaching?

Let me say this loud and clear: NO!

Let me clarify: I believe everything the Catholic Church teaches.

Here is the thing:  The Catholic Church doesn’t lay out hard and fast rules for every aspect of life (The Church is way smarter than that).  So, when I write a post about, say, marijuana, from a Catholic perspective, it does not mean that I’m copying and pasting the Catechism’s section on weed into a post (no, that section doesn’t actually exist.  Stop Googling it).  It simply means that I am applying basic Catholic principles of morality and ethics to arrive at a conclusion I think is in line with Catholic teaching.  Of course, as a human, I am flawed—so it would be wise, as with anyone, to take what I write with a grain of salt.

But why, oh why, would you do this to us?

I believe in the truth of the Catholic faith and always have.  I believe the Church contains the fullness of the truth, and—as such—applies to all aspects of life.  Somewhere along the line we have stopped taking that seriously, and now integrating faith into all aspects of life is almost a foreign concept to young people.  If you are Catholic, it ought to be more than just a box you check on your Facebook page (if you even have the courage to do that).  It’s time to redefine what it means to be Young and Catholic for today’s world.

For this reason, I repeat: Littlest Lane is now: Young & Catholic. :)

Get Clean

Two of my friends at school made this for the iConfess video contest.  Check it out; it’s incredible:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI-l9ug7S7A&feature=channel_video_