Los Angeles Religious Education Congress

This past weekend I went to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and had a very good time.  It was my third trip after two years off.  I went with 44 other members of my parish.  It was a faith filled journey at which I renewed some of my commitments in my life, picked up some new ones and learned a great deal.

There are those in the conservative Catholic circles I frequent that are fairly critical of “Congress”, one periodical going so far as to call it “Cardinal Mahoney’s Dissident Fest”.  While it is true that Congress leans fairly liberal, I think many over-react.

Yes, there are some presentations that include some dissident or heretical thoughts.  However, the reality is that the vast majority of sessions are consistent with Catholic Orthodoxy.  To my knowledge, no formally disciplined clergy have presented at the conference.  You won’t see Fr. Curran there.  When you balance this against the fact that there are a number of great presenters like John Allen Jr. and Wesley J Smith (in past years) and conservative Catholics have nothing to fear.  I always find sessions that I enjoy.

Yes, the Masses reflect a liberal mindset of how Mass should be conducted including liturgical dance and all the other “innovations” that are consistent with the liberal mindset of focusing Mass on the celebration with little desire to reflect the fall to our knees sacred that I so desire to see in Mass.  However, it is a good experience to witness these Masses as you get to see what that vision looks like when professionally done.  There is much to like in the Liberal vision, although it has many shortcomings (like liturgical dance outside of the procession and recession). I think a melding of the minds could result in Masses which not only honor the sacred but also reflect the jubilation of an Evangelical Christian service.

There is much a conservative Catholic can learn and grow in their faith by attending Congress and I whole heartedly encourage those with the means to attend in future years.

In the next few days I’m going to write about 10 posts (one on each of the 8 sessions and a couple of general thoughts) on my experiences and the things I took away.

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