A few years ago, while attending Sunday Mass we were asked to have our children involved in "Children's Liturgy". This so-called Liturgy involved the children exiting the church to be "taught" the readings of the day by lay catechists. They would receive a "sermon" by a lay person and then discuss the readings. We had gently refused to participate on the grounds that we would rather have the children with us. Unfortunately, after a while, and the kids incessant questioning, we allowed them to depart.
Then came the our oldest son's First Holy Communion. Now we felt we could have the right to keep him with us in the pew. Again, the catechists and the pastor persisted and we foolishly allowed him to leave our side. This time with a most terrible lesson. During the "Children's Liturgy of the Word" they were taught a very uncatholic teaching on the Eucharist...more Lutheran than Catholic, and then the catechists proceeded to hand out bread and grape juice! Our son, somewhat confused by this, went along for the ride and then returned to our pew. He whispered to me, "Dad, they made us eat bread and grape juice, is that ok?" Considering he was minutes from receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, I was rather shocked and told him, "No!"
I had to then quickly explain to him about the Eucharistic Fast, which he already knew, and let him know he would be unable to receive our Lord that day. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he asked, "why did they do that?' "I don't know son, I don't know."
While we considered the DRE of the parish, one of our friends, we had to confront this situation. In the end, she apologized for the acts of the un-catechised lay catechist (who also happened to be a immodestly dressed teenager) and stated it would not happen again. We replied, "You're darn tooten, it ain't, cuz our kids are never going to participate again!
This of course set us against the pastor and those in leadership. We soon became known as a little radical. But this situation should highlight how easy it is to hand over the catechizing or our children to strangers, how much it is encouraged in the modern parish, and how destructive it can be. Imagine if my son would have not said anything....he may have lost the faith in the Real Presence!
Unfortunately, our modern parishes have adopted the age-segregation model of faith formation and education. We have Children's Liturgy and Youth Groups, Mother's and Men's groups, the Golden Hills, and the Toddler's group. This segregation is so detrimental to the faith, which is one of those things best learned through example and modeling, rather than workbook pages and paraliturgies.
How is a child going to learn how to sit, stand, kneel properly at holy Mass if not modeled by his father and mother, sisters and brothers, grandmother and grandfather? How will the child think of the faith if it is always "dumbed down" for his age group? We are now suffering the consequences of the protestant model of youth ministry that has infiltrated the church - teens will talk of the faith with their peer group, but will not do so with their fathers! Is their peer-group really the people you want your formative years son's discussing such eternal issues with? A son's father should be the first and last catechist, the one who has the most influence over his faith, rather than the least.
This segregation is the same model employed by the state in its coercive model of education. If you can separate the family, you can conquer. If you can divide the house, the home can be plundered. As a homeschooling family, we have embraced a model that breaks down these false walls of segregation, teaching children from toddlers up to teens all under the same roof. This unity is the most profound aspect of a traditional, patriarchical home, and the most attacked.
This is the patriarchical call, to be priest, prophet, and king in your home. At times this means waging a little warfare, be it defensive. We must stand guard, know what our children are learning, even at the parish level, and stand in the gap when necessary. We must do this day and night, and never allow ourselves to be persuaded to lesson the ideal of holiness in our families,