We will begin a new videos series on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during Advent and Christmas, using the Formed.Org series titled The Catholic Faith Explained. Each week, we will watch a short video together and then have time for discussion.
Here is the list of topics that will be discussed:
12/3 and 12/4: The Journey of Faith: Trinity, Faith & the God Who Is Love
12/10-11: Divine Revelation: God Seeking Us & the Compass for Our Lives
12/17-18: The Bible: God’s Love Letter to Humanity
We will not meet on 12/24 and 12/25 or 12/31 and 1/1
1/7-8-The Story of Salvation: Creation, Fall, & Redemption
We will meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during Advent and resume in January, starting December 3 and 4 from 9 to 10AM in the Rectory meeting room. Please note the same video will be shown on both days so that more parishioners will be able to participate.
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St. Mark will begin celebrating a Spanish mass every Sunday starting Sunday December 29 at 12:30 PM. All are welcome
Bienvenidos a todos!
Get your tickets at the office or after the weekend masses. Join us for a great meal and fellowship on December 7 at 5 PM in the Social Hall.
An article from Our Sunday Visitor
Why are millennials losing their faith?
Comedian and writer Jared Bilski recently penned an article for the Washington Post titled, “I’m not passing on my parents’ religion to my kids, but I am teaching their values.”
In it he articulates the reasons he personally rejected Catholicism and prefers not to raise his 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son in the Faith. His piece reads like a case study of the millennial faith-experience.
“Not only did I attend Catholic school for 13 years, from kindergarten straight through high school, I also immersed myself in all religious amenities such an upbringing afforded me,” Bilski wrote. “I was an altar boy and a church reader. I played the part of Jesus Christ during our grade school’s Easter play. … I even strongly considered going into the priesthood. Gradually, however, I lost faith in my faith. There were too many unanswered questions, too many problematic absolutes, too much fearmongering and way too much hypocrisy. For a religion that placed such a premium on loving thy neighbor, it sure had a lot of restrictions on whom you were allowed to love. When the priest sex abuse scandal broke — a scandal the scope of which we’re still learning about — I knew I’d never return.”
Losing faith by age 13
Reading his article reminded me of a 2016 study by the Center of Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) that found that 86% of people who eventually leave the Church said that they’d actually lost their faith between the ages of 10-17. According to the lead researcher, Mark Gray, the average person lost their faith by age 13.
This struck me at the time, because it meant that the traditional concerns about Catholic children losing their faith in college was misplaced. Apparently a very large number of Catholic kids live as spiritual zombies — going through the motions although spiritually dead — for up to 10 years before anyone notices. Everyone assumes things are just fine because these kids are still showing up on Sunday with mom and dad, or serving Mass, or going to Catholic school, or making an appearance in the Christmas or Easter pageants. The first inkling that something is wrong is in college, when these kids start controlling their own time and stop going to Church.
Stages of learning faith
Bilski’s piece illustrates a problem that almost no one in the Church is addressing. As my wife and I describe in our book, “Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids” (Sophia Institute, $18.95), faith evolves in stages throughout the various phases of childhood and adulthood. In order to become faithful adults, kids need different spiritual food at each stage.
In middle-childhood, kids occupy what we might call the “Stories, Rules and Structures Stage” of faith (technically, the “Mythic-Literal Stage”). This is the time when kids learn the stories and participate in the rituals that teach basic values, such as how to tell right from wrong, what it means to be a good person and how to engage in basic moral reasoning.
By the tween years — right around the time CARA found that many children lose their faith — kids are moving to the “Relationship and Mission Stage” of faith (technically, the “Synthetic-Conventional Stage”). At this stage, something is true if it facilitates teens’ relationships and helps them find their place in the world. By contrast, something is false if it complicates (or seems irrelevant to) their relationships and makes it harder to claim what they consider to be a socially conscious identity.
Making the leap
Bilski’s mini-spiritual autobiography makes it pretty clear that his religious formation broke down in the period between the Mythic-Literal and Synthetic-Conventional faith stages. When that happens, you end up with someone who can appreciate the values he or she was raised with but struggles to see how organized religion, with all its idealized absolutes, has any relevance to real relationships and real problems.
Bilski’s story is a clarion call for the Church — especially for parents and Catholic educators whose job it is to raise up the next generation of faithful Catholics. At that critical period between middle-childhood and the tween years, children need our help making the leap from the faith of stories to the faith of the real world. They need to see that their parents’ faith makes a real difference in the intimacy, joy and peace they experience at home. They need to see how their parents use their faith not as an escape, but as the primary resource that helps them negotiate the challenges of adult life. In short, they need to be educated in true Christian discipleship.
As a Church we need to do more to help kids be intentional disciples and help them discover that Catholicism, more than a list of “thou-shalt-nots,” is a path to joyful, intimate relationships and a meaningful life.
Dr. Greg Popcak is the author of many books, including his latest, “Unworried: A Life Without Anxiety” (OSV, $16.95).
An Article from Our Sunday Visitor
Have small kids? 5 tips to helping you make it through Mass
Parents often feel self-conscious taking their small children to church. We worry that our little ones will disturb others or prevent us from “getting anything out of Mass.” While we do need to be sensitive to people around us and it can sometimes be hard to attend to what is going on when we are trying to manage a crying baby or squirming toddler, the truth is, our children are valuable members of the faith community. As baptized members of the Body of Christ, it is not only good that infants and toddlers come to Mass, they have a right to be there. As Pope Francis recently put it, “The cry of a baby is God’s voice: never drive them away from the Church!”
The religious brain
A parent who leaves a child at home “until they are old enough” is missing an important stage of the child’s religious education. Education begins unconsciously. Your baby or toddler needs to be given the opportunity to learn the rhythm, sights, sounds and smells of the Mass before he is conscious enough to understand the Mass. Spirituality begins as a sensory call from God that eventually leads to a transformative response. Depriving a child of this sensory education can make it that much harder to lead your children into a personal encounter with Christ that they can feel in their bones.
Do not disturb
Of course, there is a difference between a fussing baby and a screaming baby. As a matter of courtesy to the other worshippers, parents should remove a child who is being loud and cannot be consoled after about a minute or so. That noted, everyone else around the family with a fussy child has an obligation to put on an understanding, sympathetic smile and trust the parent will handle it. As Jesus said to the apostles who were pushing the kids away from him, “get over your bad selves.”
Tips for success
Taking children to Church can, admittedly be a challenge. The following tips from can help make any churchgoing parent’s life easier.
1. Sit in the front. Yes, it’s counterintuitive, but kids behave better when they can see what’s going on.
2. Don’t start out in the cry room. Though well-intended, most cry rooms are like “Lord of the Flies” Sunday School. Go in only for as long as it takes to quiet your child. You and your child will get more out of the experience
3. Know when to hold ’em. If you have to remove your child from the sanctuary, hold him the entire time you are in the cry room or the back of the church. Letting your child play and run in the back of the church teaches him — through simple Pavlovian conditioning — that he needs to cry and fuss to earn play time. Let your child have a minimal amount of freedom of movement while he is in the pew, but none if he makes you leave the sanctuary. Is your child genuinely upset? Brain science shows that little ones need cuddles to help them calm down. If your little one makes you leave, by all means be loving, sympathetic, compassionate and affectionate, but do not put him down. When he’s quiet, return to the pew.
4. Engage them. By all means, for children under 4 or so, bring some quiet, soft, preferably religiously-themed plushes, books, etc. Keep them in a special “going to Mass bag” that is reserved for church. That will keep these activities special. Regardless, try to put these things away before the consecration. At the elevation, point to the host and whisper something like, “Look at the miracle! Look at Jesus. Say, ‘I love you Jesus!’”
5. Don’t do Mass in shifts. If you feel you aren’t “getting anything out of Mass” when you bring small children you are missing the point. What you get is the joy of passing your faith on to them. That’s what you signed up for when you became a Catholic parent. Yes, it can be tough, and yes, you may certainly do other things to get your spiritual needs met, but Sunday Mass is for your family. Go as a family.
Attending Mass as a family can be a challenge, but remember, God will abundantly bless those who bring his little ones to him. “For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14).
Dr. Greg Popcak is the author of many books including Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids.
Bishop Robert Barron reaches out to the nones (people without an identified church affiliation) in many ways.
Here is a link to an article about his efforts:
And an interview with Our Sunday Visitor
Jesus’ last direction to his disciples and to us is in Matthew 28:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Each of us has the responsibility to Go and Announce the Gospel to all the people in our lives!
God bless you and your family
Father Bob Pope
New Activities Starting Saturdays after the 4 PM masses:
November Video Series:
During the month of November we will show the following videos in the Social Hall on Saturdays after the 4 PM masses- each video is one hour long and will begin at 5PM:
These videos are from Bishop Robert Barron’s Pivotal Players Series:
Saturday November 9 -Archbishop Fulton Sheen – The Communicator
Long before the Internet and social media, Fulton Sheen pioneered Catholic evangelization through the media. At a time when most preachers spoke only from pulpits, Sheen used electronic media as a means to reach far beyond the parish walls. His innovative radio and television programs, beamed out to believers and skeptics alike, reached upwards of 30 million people per week. Sheen had a gift for spreading the faith clearly and persuasively, and he paved the path for today’s media evangelists.
Saturday November 16- Flannery O’Connor – The Storyteller
The Flannery O’Connor’s influence on contemporary culture, particularly literature and film, is profound. Her novels and short stories have been described as shocking, convoluted, funny, and violent, and they are filled with unforgettably strange characters. But they are also, from beginning to end, haunted by Christ. O’Connor radically changes our idea of what religious fiction can be. Her startling prose awakens us to sin and, consequently, to the need for salvation.
Saturday November 23- St.Benedict The Monk
Many would argue that St. Benedict, the Monk, contributed more to saving western Christian culture than anyone else. Born just after Rome fell, Benedict founded the religious community that would, in time, preserve the best of the old and allow for the emergence of an authentic, Christian way of life.
Saturday November 30 – St.Augustine – The Teacher
St. Augustine, the Teacher, is possibly the best example of how faith in Christ changed a person. Augustine’s narrative of personal transformation in his book Confessions provides a template for life in Christ that still rings true today.
Watch the Bulletin for information on the December Movie series- starting 12/14/19, since the Annual Charity Dinner is on 12/7/19