The past and present thoughts of a Catholic husband, father, and fledgling faith formation director at St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael, Minnesota

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Time Flies: A Thorp Family Update

The most recent photo of us all, with my folks and
sister's family thrown in for good measure.
I've remarked more times than I can count in the past year: "My age doesn't bother me; it's the fact that Brendan is heading to college." It's my kids' ages that get to me -- not the the additional salt in my pepper, the aches and pains, the fact that I'm often tired and can rarely sleep.

This past year has flown, and with a grad party and a trip to Poland for World Youth Day, the summer promises to be even faster. So I thought I'd offer you all an update on our family before we blink and the leaves fall again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Higher Education

As we crossed the plains of North Dakota this weekend, I made a surprising discovery: my college roommate Frank is now the Honorable Franklin R. Parker, assistant secretary of the Navy.

We were headed to Bismarck to register Brendan for his first-year classes at the University of Mary. Jodi was driving, and I sat hunched in the back seat of our little commuter car, giving Brendan and his mom some quality time up front. We had been talking to him about things that change as you move through life: interests and priorities shift, people you were close once slowly drift away. "It just sort of happens," I said. "Often it's not even intentional: my buddy Frank from Yale and I used to be in touch a couple times a year -- we would at least exchange letters at Christmas -- but this last winter I didn't hear from him and our Christmas letter bounced back to us. They must've moved."

I sat a moment, then said, "Of course, he is an attorney and has worked for some pretty big firms, so I could probably find him again in just a few minutes on Google."

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Father’s Greatest Fear

This past week, 130 teens from our parish and school received the Sacrament of Confirmation. A few of these young people are already leaders in the community, drawing others to Christ. More will enter into the fullness of the Catholic faith and begin to live as disciples of Jesus, called to follow, and gifted to reach out to their family, friends, and strangers in new and beautiful ways.

But unfortunately, many others will view Confirmation as the last requirement of “growing up Catholic.” They will be happy to be done with religion classes and will begin almost immediately to drift away from the Church.

Last weekend my bride and I spent Sunday afternoon with three other couples trying to raise Catholic families. We talked about cultivating perseverance in our children: strengthening them to look for ways forward when the going gets tough, to have the courage of their convictions, and to fall and rise again. We talked, in particular, about the difficulty of letting our teens make decisions we don’t agree with in order for them to learn on their own those things that our experience could teach but that they won’t hear.

At least two of us agreed that our biggest fear is our children falling away from the faith. My friend said that when he shares this fear, people will seek to reassure him: You are doing everything you can; they have to make their own choices.

“In reality, it’s not about me,” he said. “I worry, because I know how long a road it is to come back.”

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book Break: The Great Divorce

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a profound Good Friday, but that was only half the story. The other half of the story is that, early that Friday morning, I sought out some spiritual reading for the day, and wound up with a new top-five favorite book: C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce.

Of course, when reading spiritually, the Bible is always a good place to start, and I'm also making slow but steady progress through Dante's Divine Comedy a canto or two a day. But I wanted something fresh, something I could possibly read in a day, and something related to the penitential character of Good Friday and the great saving act of our Lord.

On a hunch, I took C.S, Lewis's The Great Divorce from the bookshelf. I have great regard for Lewis as a writer and had heard good things about the book, particularly from my good friend Angie at Take Time for Him.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Movie Review: Batman Versus Superman

Maybe it's because I heard almost nothing except how bad the movie was, so my expectations were quite low. Maybe it's because we paid matinee prices and didn't buy snacks or drinks. Maybe it's because I watched with a Batman superfan and had read one tentatively positive review from another superfan whose views I generally trust.

Whatever the reason, I saw Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice this weekend, and was pleasantly surprised. It was far better than I expected.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Rise and Walk: Looking Ahead to Next Year’s Program

This past week we completed our family faith formation sessions for the year, and this weekend our LIFT first communicants will receive the Blessed Sacrament for the first time. The past year has flown by, and I suspect the summer planning season will pass even faster. We have lots of great for next year, but one of more significant changes has to do with the age of Confirmation. After extensive discussion in recent years, including our priests, committee members, catechists, and staff members at St. Michael and St. Albert parishes, we have decided to gradually shift the age of Confirmation to 8th grade for all our students.