Who is God? Faith Formation & 8th grade.

Tell me one thing that you are grateful to God for . . .

I taught my eighth grade faith formation class this evening.  I love the kids – I really do.  They are a sweet bunch, variety of personalities and backgrounds.  Tonight I had four regulars, one extra and was missing one.  One or two I don’t even bother looking for any longer.  As far as  I know they are no shows.  My DRE (Director of Religious Ed) was surprised that one was not showing up.

The topic for this evening was Prayer.  The problem with discussing prayer is these kids really have no clue who God is.  Eighth graders.  They have made it through seven years of CCD or Faith formation to be in my class.  I can’t help but wonder who taught them before me.  What their classes were like.

They don’t know God.

They don’t pray.

They are sweet kids.

The lesson book tells me to have them follow seven steps for prayer – which include saying the “Our Father” in closing.  The side notes tell them a short prayer a Saint said and tells us they should use this in their prayers.

Clueless.  Those are prayers of others that I am being told (through the material provided to me to teach with) to teach them more rote prayers.

No.  Enough already. 

They don’t know God.

We talk about God and prayer every week.  Most of the kids rarely go to Mass.  The local kids don’t pray at home though one in tonight group remember praying with parents at bedtime “many years ago”.  One boy attends my class from out of town.  He prays with his family at night.  I asked him how they pray.  He is Vietnamese.  He smiled then shrugged and said “just a bunch of Vietnamese prayers, then the rosary, then more Vietnamese prayers’.  I asked if they say personal prayers and he said yes they follow a format, though I’m not so sure the way he spoke that they did, and certainly not the private personal prayer we were discussing.  More rote prayers.

Okay, regroup I tell myself.  – Back to the book.  Back to the seven steps.  As I read through them with the kids I realize how absolutely ridiculous this is.  The author has no idea what he is doing.  Much of the book seems okay but when it comes to real life practice – not so much.  I’d need the darn book and have to read steps one through seven just to be sure I covered everything he thought was important.

These kids don’t pray.  Why would I make it harder than it has to be.  Did Jesus tell us we had to pray a certain way?  No, I think to myself – not that I recall.  I love God.  I pray throughout the day.  It’s just part of me at this age.

I smiled at the kids and told them the truth, prayer shouldn’t be a chore.  Prayer is about having a close relationship with God.  Conversations.  Three steps.  Prayer of gratitude and worship, thanks for all He is, all He does and all He is.  Next, prayer for those in our lives and things in the world that need our attention and the attention of our Father, ask Him for guidance in these matters.  Lastly – pray for ourselves.  Ask for guidance and that He show us, guide us in His will.  Help us to be good people, speak to him of special intentions.  Thank him.

I tell them I know there is a five step list I have read from Pope Francis and that I will look it up and bring this with me to next class.

Going through review questions, we didn’t get very far.  The first was “if you make ten minutes a day to pray for the next thirty days how will that change you?”

I was reminded that we already talked about this – only one in the class prayers.  So I steer them toward prayer and share different experiences that I felt were age appropriate to share like the early birth of my grandson and being concerned because he was early (no need to share details with them) but how God has been with him, how well he has grown in two months.  … Of the time I was out of work for a long time and prayed and prayed and just when I needed it – I had a job offer and I knew that was God.  These things caught their attention.  An adult sharing experience.  It also helps know that I respect them enough to share little glimpses of my own life.  I remember being that age.  Not long ago my own sons were.

Last question . . .

Tell me one thing that you are grateful to God for . . .

No answer.

How can they be grateful to God…

When they don’t know Him???

My heart hurt.  These are good kids.  Smart, loving.  Lacking God in their lives. 

I answered. 

I am nothing without God.  He created me.  Psalm 139 tells us that He created us an knows us from before we were born, He formed us, knows us, our thoughts, fears, loves, hopes.  He is with us always.  I am grateful.

I smiled looking each in the face . . .

I am grateful for God, because if it were not for Him we would not be in this room and I never would have met you and I enjoy learning from you – very much.

The sweetest expression on the faces of my eighth graders.  They were not expecting to hear that.  They’re at the age where life becomes a tug o’ war at home, grasping for some freedom that they are too young to have.  Too many don’t have long conversations with their own parents.  Too seldom are they told they are respected for just being themselves.

As we’re gathering books they begin to talk about a paper they have to write on President Trump.  Only one began with how great he thought he is.  I told them we probaly shouldn’t talk politics and the boy who loved him said why?  Lockerroom talk?  {ack}  So we had a very short talk that went like this… “If you are talking about what I think you are, you would not want anyone to speak to your mother like that, your sister – or your daughter”.  It is unkind, ungodly and a real gentleman would stand up to that.

To  my left a student in a choked voice said I am afraid, have you heard what he has said about GLBT?  He said he will use shock treatment on all of them, do you know what that means?  Conversion therapy?    She looked truly frightened.  A young person that I was not surprised at all to hear this from, sometimes you just know.  She said – “you know, my hair is short he may think….”   I looked at her and promised he would not get away with hurting anyone like that, don’t worry – it will be okay.

As I said that I thought of the program my own religion has “Courage” for those with same sex attraction, to help them be celibate.  En-courage for family members to assist them with.  She is worried about the president of the United States wanting to use shock therapy to “fix” GLBT,  as I turn away, sadly I think of the church that will not love and accept people for the way they have been born . . .

What Would Jesus Do?

Love & accept.

At home writing this tonight, I think of my own childhood.  Attending Sunday church services (Protestant) with my grandparents.  Little ones were encouraged to learn and memorize bible verses at home during the week (I was no older than five!), on Sunday we’d be invited up in front of the congregation to recite our verse.  If we got it right (and even if we slipped up a bit) we got a life saver.  A nice way to involve families in their education of little ones.

I read and prayed with my own boys.  Admittedly grace at the table was lacking.  My ex-husband and his family made fun of me when I brought it up one time.  My older two are agnostic (though I keep an open conversation going about God).  My youngest attends an Evangelical church and is quite adamant that he will never attend Catholic Church again.

My grandson is two months old.  I talk to him about God and Jesus.  I’ve mentioned the Holy Spirit.  I sing him lullaby’s and I sing songs from my childhood that we sang in church (adults with the kids) and my grandparents and I would sing on car rides or in the kitchen preparing or cleaning up a meal.  Jesus Loves the Little Children ~ Jesus Loves Me, this I know…

I love the kids I teach.  We only have a few more weeks together.  What I posted last night about my religion, The Carpenters Son? Mary’s Son? ~ The Begotten One. (revised)  is true The church places Catechism, tradition, rules before God.  This is why our young people have no relationship with God, yes, their parents should be teaching them at home, but God must come before religious teachings.  It is useless to push teachings on people who have not yet even learned who God really is and that He is in our lives every single second of our lives.  Isn’t it?

God is about relationship. 

He is Love.

 

 

 

 

“Let the children come to me and do not prevent them”

I learned when I married, that religion was going to be a big issue in my life, though I had no inkling I would end up divorced and where I am today.  I was raised in various Protestant denominations, attended Roman Catholic with friends, (one more often – who has at this point left the church for Lutheran).  I have written a bit about this in the past, at some point I will probably re-post something I wrote when I first set up my blog “Who am I?”, which was an extension of my “About me” and religion. 

A really short version here is this;  I was raised Protestant and converted to the Roman Catholic faith in order to be able to bring my children up as Christians.  It was the only way my exh who did not attend church (and swore literally that we never would attend a Catholic church after he spoke with a priest prior to our marriage (justice of the peace).  – So, I have a little background on the difficulties and choices we make in order to raise our children to be children of God.

Something I believe I shared last winter was that Little Miss has a two-year old son who is currently being raised by his paternal grandparents.  His father lives in their upstairs apartment.  The details of her life other than, won’t be shared here.  She has had a very difficult life and has come a long way in just the past few months, from when she first entered our lives.  I don’t think she ever really had anyone to love or guide her.  I find her eager to please, fun to be around and a really good person.  When I became involved, aside from wanting to help her, I wanted to help her reunify with her son who she had not seen in several months.  Somewhere along the way she and son became…involved in ways that should have waited.  Now, we have baby little on the way.

Saturday mornings, and any other vacation or holiday I have off work have become our “date” time.  I pick her up, drive to another city to the clinic for Methadone (she became addicted to heroin  sometime after the birth of her first son).  We often go to breakfast before or after and sometimes we go shopping.  I have been waiting for a small Catholic gift  & book store to reopen.  I really like to support the woman who has made her shop her life’s passion.  After the clinic this past Saturday, we drove to the shop and though it was not “quite” open… (awaiting CO) the front door was open so in we went.  I could buy everything in the shop :chuckles:  Really.  Seems my little miss is the same way.   The baby’s room theme is “Noah’s Ark” (seems like many things in my life bring that portion of the bible up :) ).  We picked out a Noah’s Ark nightlight, two inexpensive bracelets for the little parents (leather with cross for son, yellow braided with tiny crosses for moma – as she picked hers out and made sure I’d get one for son too ♥).

20161113_171536Psalm 139 is very near and dear to my heart.  It is my favorite.  “I am wonderfully made” with the little lion was my choice.  Little Miss chose the Noah’s Ark themed cross “God keeps His promised”.

I also bought two crib medals, one for the crib at my home and one for their home.  I have told the kids to bring theirs to the hospital to put in the isolate when baby little is born.

While moma little and I were looking at everything and making a decision on what cross to get for babies wall (my choice will be on the wall, little moma’s on his dresser – her choice).  I told her as he gets older we can pick out a different crucifix for his room and she liked that.  We looked at a couple of other things that I’ll pick up later on.

Here is where things get sticky – and upsetting – for me. 

Though both raised Roman Catholic my little’s are not attending a Catholic Church. 

Moma Little’s toddler is not attending church.  He was not Baptized.  His current guardian (a Practicing Roman Catholic – my understanding) has forbidden young lady to talk to her son about God, Jesus.

Right.  I can imagine what you are thinking.

Many months ago I had bought some Catholic/Christian toddler books and Little Moma brought them to her son on visitation (she now has visits twice a week, for two hours each time – so she is moving in the right direction.  He also adores my son, who visits once in a while – and son adores him).

On Saturday, I told her we’d come back after the baby was born so we could order one of the frames that you add footprints, a photo and birth info to.  I also told her we could pick somethings out for her older son when we came back for Christmas.  This is when she told me she’s been forbidden to talk about God.  I asked her about the books and she said she hasn’t seen them anywhere since the day she brought them there.

The other part of this story is this;  Young lady didn’t want to have the baby Baptized when he was born.  In truth, she was not doing well in her life at the time and wasn’t emotionally or mentally able to deal with any responsibility at that time.  She also thought it would be best to wait and let him make his own decision.  Apparently the grandma bought a Christening outfit and wanted to throw a party and Little Moma and the babies dad said “no”.  Now, the grandma is still licking her wounds – and keeping the little one from Jesus.

My sons were brought up Roman Catholic.  I taught CCD when they were little – even bringing my youngest, a toddler in tow because I had no babysitter.  I worked at summer Bible Camp – and introduced the Catholic Cub Scout awards to my parish.  My oldest and youngest were both alter servers.  The older two – confirmed.  Unfortunately by the orders of their father, not by their choice as it should have been presented.  Neither attend church currently.  Youngest son was not confirmed.  His first session for confirmation class was “why be Catholic” and the DRE, at the time also his teacher – couldn’t tell him why (epic fail on her part).  I spoke to her and she promised to have the Pastor speak to him – and never did.  Around the same time our family split and my ex husband (the reason my family is Roman Catholic…) refused to bring the boys to Mass or CCD on “his time”.

Son still worked at church Bingo taking it over from his older bother, until he was old enough to get a real job (all three boys worked in high school).  He had a two-year relationship with a Protestant young lady (they were “pre-engaged” … due to young age) she had a promise ring.  She had no desire to attend Mass so he attended her family church here and in Florida, and an Evangelical church nearby.

When son and little miss began hanging out, they began attending mass out of town (her family reasons).  Then they began attending the Evangelical church where they felt more comfortable.  They asked the grandmother/guardian of her toddlers if they could bring him and the babies dad (the dad supposedly was willing) to go to the Evangelical Church and the grandmother refused.

A good Catholic? ? ?   A bad Christian.

St. Luke 18:16  Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

The emotional games of tug and war that are played out by adults!!!  Keeping a child from Jesus!  I don’t understand how  this could be – but it is.

What I do know is this.  One day two little brothers will be playing together, hopefully living in the same home with their mom who is trying hard to move forward in her life (though admittedly – she needs a lot of encouragement, support and love herself).  She is capable.  Those little boys will be able to go to church, read stories about Jesus and play with Noni’s age appropriate nativity at Christmas.  One day – because I am sure God is watching.

Meanwhile, toddler brother is in my prayers along with baby little.  When the kids came to dinner tonight I told my son (talked to little miss about this Saturday also), that I am going to buy big brother / little brother shirts because – they are brothers.  He “knows” there is a baby in mommy’s tummy.  The hard part is going to be when she visits, when she brings baby and leaves with baby  – and not toddler child.  I could see this on her face when we were talking the other day.  She didn’t say it, but she felt it.

Please, if you have children, grand children  – any children in your life and you proclaim yourself to be a person of faith – do not withhold God from a child as a means to punish a parent.  Even children that are not “family”, if you have a Saturday night sleepover ask the parents if they mind if  their son or daughter attend church with you.  I can’t tell you how many times I attended mass as a child with friends (other churches too).  I can’t tell you how many little boys attended mass with my sons and me.  I never had someone say “no thank you” and – I never had anyone keep their child home the next Saturday invite either.

St. Luke 18:16  Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.