My blog turned three years old the other day. Thank you to my five loyal readers and all of the other visitors who have dropped by. I've noticed that my most popular entries remain my Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas builds. I like to think that many of the kids stuck around for the crimethink.
The retreat was enjoyable but there were a few head scratching moments. Our visiting priest was late on Sunday, so confessions and Mass were postponed for a few hours. Beforehand, my buddy the youth minister and the rest of us core members gave a long talk to the teens about the necessity of being in a state of grace before receiving Holy Communion. But later on Father encouraged everyone to receive even if they hadn't been to confession beforehand. Now, technically that can be read in an orthodox way - venial sins wound but do not destroy the life of grace in the soul - but it came off as implying that confession isn't that big a deal. Some of the kids even approached us afterward and confided that what Father said didn't sit right with them. Two of the kids were self-described agnostics. Sure enough, one of them went up to receive communion and Father, not knowing her background, gave her the Host. YM was devastated.
We prayed Lauds and Vespers from the Divine Office every day, and the feedback was only positive. The Church's paaaastoral strategy is to water down the faith to the lowest common denominator. My eyes tell me that young people respond well to being challenged. They want to know more about our history and traditions. Afterward during our debriefing over beers and smokes, we commiserated about how it's a struggle to work with the teens when our greatest conflicts usually arise from within the Church itself.
This retreat taught me the necessity of fighting even if it's a losing battle. We're talking about a group of 40-50 teenagers in one parish in what is generally a liberal diocese. What difference can it possibly make in the big picture? One of my fellow core members has worked in sales for 25 years. He's a man of action. He dislikes diagnoses that are unaccompanied by prescriptions. But doing what we do requires both faith and patience. We don't know what these teens will do in the future. It's my hope that they take the initiative in learning and living the faith once they move on from LifeTeen. They may end up converting their parents to a more serious purpose with the Catholic faith.
This is why I've always dismissed the opinion in the manosphere that we ought to enjoy the decline at poolside. It's ultimately rooted in despair. I'm a short term pessimist - both the West in general and the US in particular are continuing their slide into socio-economic collapse - but a long term optimist. At the start of the retreat we all had our pictures taken which were then taped to our own manila envelope up on a bulletin board. The idea was you could write notes to the others to encourage them and offer prayers. The notes in my envelope seriously moved me. The kids expressed their appreciation for all of our efforts and said that we made them want to be better Catholics. There are many objective reasons to be discouraged about the world. But it's worthwhile if you can convince even one person that the glory of the world is fleeting and to focus more on eternity.
Also, the small group of kids I worked with all collaborated on a thank you note for me which included a portrait of your host. Personally, I think it effectively captures the essence of Beefy Levinson.