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Forcing Teenagers to Attend Mass

I've noticed something troubling recently at Mass. It's parents at Mass without their children. And I'm not talking about the wee ones who cry and eat Cheerios in the pew. Actually I still see them quite a bit and am glad for it. It's the teens I don't see.

I've noticed parents that I've seen for years bringing their little ones to Mass suddenly flying solo as their children become teenagers.

What's going on? Is it some misguided notion that you shouldn't force religion on teenagers? Is this a trend you see at your parish? It seems pretty foolish to me. If you ask me, parents should be forcing teenagers to do all sorts of things, shouldn't we? If we see our children veering in a dangerous direction what does it tell them when we don't attempt to change their direction? If we don't require them to attend Mass as teenagers either we don't care about them so much or we don't consider religion all that important. I don't really see other options. And believe me, they notice.

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Cathy D said...

I do see this occasionally. But since we normally go on Saturdays at 5, I assume the teen is working. I can only think of one or two families that do this and the kids are 16 and can drive. I just figure (and hope) that the kid will make it to Mass Sunday morning or to our teen Mass Sunday evening.

Foxfier said...

My folks made us go; my husband's didn't. (other than his grandmother)

Guess which family now has issues?

It doesn't make the kids assured to be Catholic when they grow up, but does make it less likely they'll "just know" a ton of stuff that's false. (Well, other than what's offered in some painfully bad confirmation classes, but that's another rant.)

Magdalene said...

Sometimes the teens go to the entertainment teen Mass that the parents cannot stomach and have religious ed classes and pizza as a reward as at my parith.

tuleesh said...

It's those "darned parents."

Indeed. In my experience, catechesis is completely turned over to the church's religious education program by many families. Parents are surprised when I point out that catechism class re-enforces what is learned in the domestic church.

Sadly, a lot of class time is spent on building a foundation so that students can "get" the curriculum. I've stopped counting the times I've heard from confirmation candidates that their parents tell them to attend class so that they "can get married in the Church." I make it quite clear the eternal danger they've put themselves in with that thinking. And to think really hard if they receive the Holy Spirit under false pretenses.

We'll see what happens

Redfeather said...

My teens dislike the contrived, stupidity offered by the Youth Group like "Lock Down Overnighters". They have always been fed pablum in religious education and really know very little about their faith. I've taught them what I could during long car drives, the essentials. I've pounded into their heads that no matter what insanity they see at our suburban parish, and there is much, and no matter how bad the music is, and it is bad, it is still a valid Mass, and no matter how many times Father tells them the Democratic party is right about gay marriage (and he has), that it is still a valid Mass and there is no where but the Catholic Church they can receive the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus. I've told them Jesus will never abandon them, and they can always come back to Jesus in the Eucharist. I also take them to confession, where I have a feeling the priest tries to talk them out of their sins like they do me.

foxfier said...

Indeed. In my experience, catechesis is completely turned over to the church's religious education program by many families. Parents are surprised when I point out that catechism class re-enforces what is learned in the domestic church.

You can "thank" the "spirit" of Vatican II type priests; they changed so many basic teachings that the folks who were paying attention believed they didn't know enough to teach more than the very basics, like a bedrock sense that life matters, even animal life, even when there's a massive difference between an animal life and a human one. Respect for creation, call it.
(Made for some odd conflict when my basics-- which were very sound-- ran into the "spirit" basics...which were grey goo.)

Redfeather said...

So many souls lost at the hands of our progressive priests and bishops. Really, in our parish the pastor likened gay marriage to being compassionate, loving and inclusive. I wrote the bishop but he had his underling send me a patronizing reply. There was no corrective action whatsoever. Again, millions of young people lost, floundering, embracing all manner of evil. Before talking about a vocations crisis from the pulpit, start talking about the evil of birth control and the contraceptive mindset. There is simply not a large enough pool of faithful Catholic families from which to harvest good priests.

Jake Cullom said...

I disagree. Once confirmed, the Church says you're an adult. If you've done your job as a parent, I'd assume that they'd choose to go. But, they do have free will. If you force them to go when they don't want to go, you're just temporarily "fixing" the problem until they leave the home, because as soon as they leave, they're not going to go to Mass (you've still lost them). I think it's better to vehemently disagree with their decision (of not going), remind them that it's a grave sin... and that you won't let them go back unless you can be certain that they have gone to confession... so they don't receive unworthily. Everyone remembers the parable of the two sons, right? thoughts?

Jake Cullom said...

But, I can tell you this... you AIN'T getting on Facebook on my computer if you don't friend me (and maybe not at all anyway). If you buy your own computer, that's one thing. However, if you're on my network that I pay for, you're going to use it my way or I'll disallow your IP address.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your article. As a lapsed Catholic, I started attending mass again once the eldest was about 2. We sent them to CCD beginning with kindergarten, but didn't really teach them any religion at home. Then Katrina woke me up big time and drew me back to God. Sadly, not the same result with my husband. Our teens grudgingly attend mass, usually just with me. The eldest stopped going and has refused to go since graduating HS, except Midnight Mass at Christmas. Ironically, I now teach middle school CCD and try to help those kids fall in love with Christ and develop a deep personal relationship with God and get involved in our parish. Praying every day to St. Monica for my kids and husband, and trying to gently lead my younger teens to Christ. Hating my years spent lapsed and trying to reach out to other parents. Your article encourages me because some friends have told me not to force my teens to go. I feel in my gut I must force them, beg them, bribe them, or whatever works just to get them there in the presence of God. Thank you. Please pray for my family and all the others like mine.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. . . . I totally agree with your sentiment and as a father of two teenagers, they both go to Mass. However, my older son, who is now 18 actually never attends Mass with us. Instead he takes his girlfriend earlier in the morning. And yes, I do have spies to make sure he's there ; )

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