In the course of decorating our house for Christmas, I forgot to announce that the "Sacramental Saturday" post for November 26 is on the board in the usual Saturday stream. Next Tuesday's post on the Sunday Gospel is completed and will be up on the Tuesday stream, probably tonight. Tomorrow's Morality Monday is very iffy due to clinic duties and my retreat which begins late tomorrow (Monday). So, one more week of immorality till Monday, December 5. Make the best or the worst of it.
I am enjoying the hangover of a very enjoyable day yesterday, hosted by St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Orlando. I am very grateful for the breakfast and the other hospitalities extended to my students. Our topic was "Catechesis and Human Development." In a nutshell, we spent seven hours examining how contemporary theories of human development--most notably Erik Erickson's stages--interplay with Catholic faith formation and catechetical instruction. As I like to see, several participants raised questions for discussion, and one in particular is playing with my head. In the course of the presentation I had mentioned data that suggests full neurological growth from adolescence to adulthood has been pushed back, perhaps now occurring as late as age 26. The reason is the increased complexity of modern life. This is not a new concern: Alvin Toffler's Future Shock (1970) and the 1960's theories of Thomas Szasz had already raised the question of whether much of what we call mental illness is a predictable reaction to, for want of a batter word, a sick society.
I can best paraphrase my students' observations something like this: is there a moral duty to recognize and perhaps self-regulate the amount of outside data we absorb? Is there a point where we are over engaged in the suffering of the world, global injustice, or other emotionally powerful realities? There is, of course, a lot of discussion these days about 24-hour media and the high-speed delivery of suffering in visual data from such places as Aleppo and Haiti, for example. It is an intriguing issue and one that I hope to examine down the road.
I also came away with a new intensity over the need for better Church understanding of how the human mind works. All of my students, as licensed school teachers, were conversant with theories of development, so the "fun," so to speak, was to contrast the characteristics of life stages with corresponding faith experiences such as First Communion, Confirmation, Scripture study, etc. New books of this nature are not crossing my desk. (Ads for Medicare supplemental coverage plans, well, that's another story.) I'm not sure why the developmental/catechetical field is not "hot" right now.
Since I am not writing a full post today, I am providing a link to National Catholic Reporter on the subject of Church music. About a year ago on the blog I lamented that Church music today is being ground out of a warehouse by some large company. NCR does a close-up of what that company is and how it works. If you use a missalette or a church hymnal, you will find this informative. I suggest, with some trepidation, that you read the "comments" section. NCR is a liberal publication, and the blog reactions to its stories and editorials gets a little heated. All the same, most of the 20 or so respondents make some very good points.
On My Mind