In case you hadn't heard, a bishop has approved a Marian apparition for the first time in US history. The best recounting of the story is in the book The Signs of the Times: Understanding the Church since Vatican II, but there's also a good book available from the apparition shrine on just the apparition itself (http://www.shrineofourladyofgoodhelp.com/index.html).
On the one hand, I'm thrilled. In a sense, it means the Church in America has arrived. We have a native-born cradle Catholic saint -- St. Katherine Drexel -- and now we have this. And the apparition is so simple. Frequent the sacraments and catechize your children. Of course, we don't need apparitions to know these things. We should just do them. It should be second nature, but it isn't. We always need reminding of this. Even the Hebrews needed a reminder of this (see Deutoronomy).
On the other hand, the question is, why was this needed? I mean, the Church has always told parents, "You are the first educators. It is your job to educate your child in the Faith." And yet Our Lady appeared to Adele Brice (pro. "breese") to say, "Catechize the children. Teach them the Sign of the Cross." Why hadn't their parents done these things?
As I look at the situation about us in this nation and others, we still have this problem. Each week, I speak with parish DREs and youth ministers. I've never spoken with one who has told me this isn't a problem in their situation. There are parents who catechize their children, to be sure. So many, however, just don't care. They could not care less, in fact. They evidently believe in the Eight Sacrament of Holy Osmosis. That's where you drop your kids off at the parish, save goodbye to them in the rearview mirror as you pull away, and just sorta hope our holy faith will somehow magically sink into them. And then we're surprised when our kids fall away from the faith, either for its poor imitation and substitute or, worse, for abject secularism.
One DRE told me she held a parents information night to let parents know what their children were going to learn in a class about sexuality. They advertized in 10 local parishes for several weeks. Not one parent came. Not one. It's devastating to learn of such things.
But these parents are like so many out there Their attitude toward catechesis is, "That's the Church's job." No it's not. If you're a parent, it's your job. The parish's catechists are only there to reinforce and augment what you're teaching your children in the home. In fact, parishes could save themselves a lot of money if parents were doing this, money that could go to help the poor pay heating bills and put food on their tables.
"But I'm not qualified," I hear some saying. So? So what? Your kids don't know that. Read. Learn. Pass on what you learn. Don't teach them something unless you know for sure it's fact, and, like any good catechist, don't pass on what you think but what the Church teaches. Trust me, once you start learning, it's contagious. It's not boring at all. It's actually fun and interesting. I, too, used to think it was boring. I certainly don't have that false notion anymore.
So the message given to Adele Brice is still as timely today as ever. Together, let's make it less so.