Monday, February 1, 2010

A really good idea

What would you think if your pastor wanted to fingerprint your kids whenever they came to Mass?

Given this pastor's reasons--I'd be all for it!:

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish priest has installed an electronic reader in his church for schoolchildren to leave their fingerprints in order to monitor their attendance at mass, the Gazeta Wyborcza daily said on Friday.

The pupils will mark their fingerprints every time they go to church over three years and if they attend 200 masses they will be freed from the obligation of having to pass an exam prior to their confirmation, the paper said.

The pupils in the southern town of Gryfow Slaski told the daily they liked the idea and also the priest, Grzegorz Sowa, who invented it.

Now, considering that there are only 52 Sundays in most years and that three years of Sunday Mass attendance only gets you 156 of the required 200 Masses, it seems clear that the priest is encouraging confirmation candidates to fit some daily Masses into their schedules as well--not at all a bad idea for encouraging young Catholics to be serious about their faith.

My only questions--how many Masses would the children need to attend to skip lay-led diocesan Sacramental Prep programs altogether? And can we please get a program like that here in America?


Tim J. said...

"My only questions--how many Masses would the children need to attend to skip lay-led diocesan Sacramental Prep programs altogether? And can we please get a program like that here in America?"

Don't get me started. I've been volunteering as a catechist in our parish Confirmation program. It's unreal. The kids (and their families) are made to jump through hoops of one kind and another for two full years. If there is a program more or less guaranteed to ensure that most of the kids will never want to darken the door of a church again, this is it.

I don't know who was more grateful for the recent cancellations on account of snow and ice... the teachers or the students.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't even let my grocery store get my fingerprint (for check identification); it's against my principles. I only let the automated drug storage cabinet system at work use it because it's a closed system i.e. the information doesn't leave the facility, and 'easier' than memorizing a number code.

There has to be a better, different accountability...
traveling through Poland this spring...I don't think it would be terribly difficult for a parish priest to keep track of confirmation candidates. Like any aspect of education, a real incentive such as participating in an all night vigil, listening to inspiring homilies, spiritual retreats, physical activities such as JPII participated as a young man, visiting other churches, donuts & cocoa after Mass (?), use of free iPad (?), etc. but please not the fingerprinting monitor!

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that my daughter liked the idea.
Yes, we did the math too and that would mean an extra 14 a year, Masses - but we don't know their HDOs either.
It is interesting. I don't like fingerprinting.
Also, the kids said it would be easy to falsify attendance for some.

Barbara C. said...

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Just because a kid shows up; it doesn't mean they're staying or paying attention. They could be reading a book. Just because kids go to school doesn't mean that they're learning anything either.

Of course, I think all of the hoops for confirmation are ridiculous anyway. It reinforces the idea of "Confirmation" as a religious graduation ceremony rather than a rite of initiation, beginning of a personal journey, and transference of graces.

The problem is they have turned faith into another "school subject", relying on "tests" and other b.s. Just because a kid can regurgitate facts doesn't mean he really believes it or has internalized it. Does anyone ever talk one on one with these kids to really see where their hearts are?

And this fingerprint program just turns faith into a check-list. It's the exact thing that non-Catholics criticize Catholics for...doing "works" to earn "golden tickets" to get to heaven, except this time it's to get out of RE classes.

Anonymous said...

The objections, at least mine, regarding sacramental preparation are
1. Forced classes - meaning that for whatever reason, we can not do this at home
2. Unreasonable attendance requirements - usually to the above classes

There is nothing wrong with having requirements for these sacraments/preparation. Our children would have rather taken an exam than written two essays.

There is nothing wrong with asking someone to demonstrate they know/are prepared.

But we are talking about an IF you do this then you are exempt from the exam.
They don't have to attend 200 Masses to be confirmed unlike some diocesan policies/and parish rules.

Anonymous said...

A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, grab a table, order drinks, and discuss the rat problems they have at their worship spaces. The rabbi goes, "Oy vey these rats! They're awful! I went to Menschel's hardware store (he always gets me a deal), bought a bunch of rat traps, but they didn't work and the synagogue is still full of rats!"

The Minister says, "Ugh the rats. The church is full of them! We hired the best exterminator in the phone book who worked for months and we still have rats."

The priest says. "We had lots of rats and we tried traps and exterminators, but that didn't work. So we put the rats in the formation class, confirmed them, and we never saw them again.

SherryTex said...

Here's an idea, have formation classes that aren't either listless meatless soul sucking dry paper cutting lectures or spineless rainbow sprinkles gelatinous share your feelings sessions on morality.

Have work that addresses the core questions that are the crux of any sacrament: the relationship between the individual soul and God and how the sacrament reveals/augments/heals/confirms/strengthens that intimacy.

Don't like the thumb prints for some of the very reasons cited.

freddy said...

I really don't like the fingerprinting idea.

But I'm weird. I don't think any sort of formation classes should be required until Holy Mother Church makes up her mind whether Confirmation itself requires preparation and understanding in order to receive it.

Currently, the eastern Church (in union with Rome) confirms babies at Baptism. In my understanding, a child of the Roman rite may be Confirmed even if he doesn't have the mental capacity to understand what is happening.

If that's truly the case, then, by all means *offer* classes, but don't *require* them!