[quote="kenofken, post:11, topic:211879"]
People speak of being "properly catechized" as if it were a piece of software that can be downloaded into someone's head. It almost sounds as if the software is flawless and any lapsed Catholics must have had a bad connection or an unskilled programmer at the keyboard. The simple fact is that not everyone wants to be Catholic. Even if you locked them in a tower with history's best apologists and teachers, at the end of the day, it either rings true with someone or it does not.
Cafeteria Catholics are as common as they are because the Church emphasizes quantity over quality. Since converting the western world by hook and by crook, the game has always been about maintaining Catholic identity through cultural inertia and family pressure. Historically, kids are baptized and confirmed WAY before they have any concept of what they're signing onto and way before they have had a chance to form their own identity and conscience in any meaningul way. They're assigned this identity, told there's nothing they can ever do to change it, and it was all done with little to no personal investment or informed choice. Why would anyone expect them to feel invested in it? I see the problem not so much as Catholics failing to toe the line as much as the dishonesty in insisting to label people as Catholics who have no real desire to live as such.
Besides, this kid doesn't have it that hard. Imagine trying to be Catholic if you had Muslim parents or a dad like Chris Hitchens. (It happens).
I was born into Roman Catholicism. My father's family is Irish Catholic. My mother was a convert. We went to Mass every Sunday, every Holy Day of Obligation, for the Stations, for everything the Church demanded. I had 12 years of Catechism of Christian Doctrine.
I don't want to be Catholic. I definitely signed the papers without my reading glasses. I was sternly told it was what God wanted. My Catholic community was riddled with the miserably unhappy "faithful". The solemnity, the standards, the "celebration" that never rejoiced because it was so busy exuding humility all combined to seduce a child of six and then turn and repulse the child of 12. No, not every child. But enough to perhaps partially explain the exodus from the Catholic Church.
Out of the four children in my family, my sister was the most compliant Catholic, the one who followed orders like a soldier. Married a non-Catholic but went through pre-Cana classes. Raised her one son as a Catholic, an altar boy, a participant in any and all Catholic activities for young boys and men. My sister went to Mass so much she almost lived at the Church. She worked there. She gave her soul to God there.
One of the last things she said before she died of cancer a year ago was, "I'm scared." I understand it from a death-as-"uncharted-territory" viewpoint, but honestly, shouldn't sixty years of coloring between the lines have afforded her even a small measure of serenity and wonder as she lay dying?
I'll never know. As far as the Church is concerned I'll never be in her presence again, anyway, much less enjoy the radiant love of God. Hell is going to be Standing Room Only.