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30 June 2007


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Popcak writes in Parenting With Grace that kids need to have an emotional experience to really tie them to the Church. He suggests a retreat, such as Teens Encounter Christ. A number of orthodox Catholic colleges now have high school summer programs that would also meet the criteria.

That was my plan, at any rate.


I've been thinking about this more this morning, and I thought I would add a little more. BTW, I use the whole head/heart terminology because that's what my RCIA director used. At first I thought the whole thing was goofy, but gradually I began to realize the wisdom of what she was saying. I think that we all are going to end up at different points of the heart/head continuum based on our personalities and God-given gifts. Some will end up way more heart than head, and others the other way around, but all can have very strong faith. It is the ends where it is all heart or all head where I think the trouble lies. I know when I first converted to Christianity I was all head and this wasn't enough to keep me out of the doubts and sometimes seductive message of the material world that surrounded me on all sides. It was only once my heart started entering into things that I began to have a much fuller and richer faith that I think is ever so much stronger than what I had before. I am still way more head than heart because of my nature, but at least I am not all head anymore, and that's what has made my faith so much more real and strong for me.

I have no idea where my children will fall on that spectrum, but I hope that I can help them along in both head and heart so that they can come to the fullness of faith without too much angst and wandering in the desert in the process!


To add to what Kelly said, Popcak states that the emotion (heart) part is developmentally where teenagers tend to fall. So, you HAVE to find them a retreat or Lifeteen or something that will really speak to that emotional part of them at that point in their lives--otherwise their faith may not seem relevant. This resonates with me, as those emotional experiences with God brought me through adolescence still connected to Christianity. After getting married God speaking to dh's and my heads brought us into Catholicism.

Catholic Wife and Mother

As with all things, it's probably a matter of balance. And some God-given personalities will prefer the head, whereas other will tend towards the heart. Not that either should crush the other into the ground, mind you. Balance.

My own experience was one of being raised by parents who were (at that time) fallen-away Catholics. There wasn't much intellectual knowledge about my faith. EVERYTHING in the CCD of the 1970s-early 80s was all about that "feeling" stuff. I found it all uncomfortably, cloyingly sentimental. It wasn't until I gained an intellectual knowledge of what the Church teaches that I was able to understand and to respect those teachings.

We're meant to "know, love and serve God." But the only way we'll get to know Him is to learn about Him. Also, love is about action and not about feeling.

I guess we can see which side of the discussion I come down on! :-)

Having said all that, I fully admit that the best parts of my faith life are when I integrate emotions and intellect. Furthermore, the strong attraction I feel towards Eucharistic Adoration is inexplicably "of the heart."

Sorry to take up so much space on my first comment to your blog! :-)


I wanted to add more, because I've been thinking of this throughout the morning. I grew up in a time and place where there wasn't any good catechesis. My brother didn't understand that Catholics are supposed to believe in the Real Presence. He thought I was joking when I tried to explain it to him when he was 16. I didn't know any devout Catholic families, and there are very very few kids from our parish who have kept the faith through adulthood.

My husband went to graduate school at a big Catholic university, and we lived in a community with a lot of devout Catholics, who were raised in large, devout Catholic families. They all had a good understanding of the faith, had held on to that faith, and intended to raise their children the same way.

I was happy to see those good examples, because it made me feel a little more secure for my children. I didn't have any background to see that raising children Catholic made any difference, but it was good to know that if you do it right, you can have a good retention rate.


I am definitely more of a head person than a heart person. I drifted for some time and didn't really start to reconnect with my faith until I started learning about it and feeding myself on an intellectual level. I think it's a major problem that most catechesis for teens is focused solely on the emotional experience because that method has failed me and so many people I know. Or rather, it seems to me that perhaps we need to approach teens on an emotional level; but also give them something that will endure once they've grown out of the emotional stage. Once the emotion passes, faith needs to be grounded in something deeper or else they'll leave the Church and continue looking elsewhere for the emotional hit. I've seen it happen to so many people. Really, I guess it's a question of balance, finding a way to

feed all of a child's needs. I like the way you point out how it is a challenge for us as parents to reach our kids when their needs are the opposite of our own.

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