March 24, 2009

CF13 – Fast Food… Fast Faith

CF13 – Fast Food… Fast Faith
Abbey Youth Fest at St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, LA.

Welcome to The Catholic Foodie, where food meets faith!

We have quite a selection on the menu today: youth ministry, vocation, & fast food. Wow. What do youth ministry and vocation have to do with fast food? You’ll find out in episode 13.

As you may recall, I mentioned in episode 12 that I was to attend Abbey Youth Fest this past Saturday. As the Confirmation Director for St. Peter Parish in Covington, I had the pleasure of bringing 124 teens & chaperones to this exciting event. I also had the opportunity to interview a number of people. In this episode you are going to hear a priest, a seminarian, and a full-time youth minister weigh in on youth ministry and vocation.

So, what is Abbey Youth Fest like? I like to describe it as a “Catholic Woodstock.” 2500 to 3000 teens in a huge open field on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery. A huge stage, towers of speakers, a giant flat-screen TV, dynamic presenters, fun and energetic bands, tons of priests and religious, teenagers who are excited about Jesus and the Church, confession offered all day long, a beautiful liturgy celebrated by Archbishop Hughes, vespers in the evening, candle-light adoration with benediction, and lots of volunteers preparing food… fast food. Goodness!

All of this and more is on the menu today at The Catholic Foodie, where food meets faith!

So where does fast food come into play? In this episode we take a philosophical look at fast food and its impact on society.

I think it is safe to say that we live in a fast-paced society. We are always on the go. In this kind of social climate, fast food really does fulfill a need. Here’s an interesting question: Is our fast-paced society to blame for fast food, or is fast food to blame for our fast-paced society. My answer: Why can’t it be both? Fast food does indeed fulfill a need, but it also allows society to move even faster. We don’t have to stop to cook. We don’t have to set the table. We can simply go through a drive-thru and get our favorite burger and fries in a paper wrapper and cardboard container. And our condiments come in plastic packets. It’s so easy. Just throw it away when finished. No clean-up necessary.

Unfortunately, in all of this, we miss each other. We fail to connect. In the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Gilbert! Magazine, we read the following in the editorial:

“As Chesterton says, every meal could be called breakfast; it is breaking a fast, and it should also be be a feast of thanksgiving , no matter how humble the fare. Ideally it begins with prayer and ends in laughter. Many, maybe most, of our good memories come from times around the table, eating, drinking, talking and laughing with those we love. If the family is the center of society, the table is the center of the family. It is a demonstrable fact that families who sit down together for at least one meal a day are more tightly knit, supportive, and healthy. It is communion” (p. 7).

It is communion. When I first read this, the neurons started firing. I began to see another example of our fast food society, an example that we can see in our churches every Sunday. I don’t know about your parish, but in mine it is amazing the number of people who leave Mass right after receiving communion. The Mass is not over. The meal is not done. Everyone else is still eating. And they leave, without even excusing themselves. Apparently, other things are more important than lingering with their brothers and sisters at their Father’s table. Does this not denigrate the Eucharist to fast food? Does it not equate to “fast food Jesus?”

Another article, written by David Beresford in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Gilbert!, highlights for us the predicament of the modern family:

“Now consider the modern family suppertime, which is presented to us by our culture: it is an unholy mixture of plastic, pre-cooked protein, ugly toy dolls and clowns. Grace, if said, feels awkward. Cash can fill your belly, cash can entertain your kids. The entire event is a hollow shell, a mockery, a mini-sacrament in the culture of death, lacking even the authenticity of the pagan meal. The message is clear: there is no family, no ritual, no community, no life — for food pay cash.

“It is now a radical pro-life act to cook and eat at home. So let us clear away the plastic, set the table with our best china and light the candles, putting a chicken on the table and knives in the hands of our children. And, beginning with grace, dig in after a hard day’s work” (24).

So, what does fast food have to do with youth ministry and vocation? Fast food can break down community. Without community (especially the Church), how can we recognize the voice of God. He is the one who calls… each one of us. Are we able to hear Him?

We need to start recognizing that our fast food society is breaking down community in families. What we need is to slow down. To cook a meal. To share that meal with family and friends. This builds community. Sitting at the table with others, sharing good food, fosters conversation. And conversation brings people closer together… it can also help us listen to God.

Some of the links mentioned in today’s show:

Called by Name (from the Diocese of Baton Rouge)

Abbey Youth Festival

St. Joseph Abbey

Covenant 7’s Facebook group page

Gilbert! Magazine

Remember, in episode 14 we will finish our discussion on youth ministry, vocations, and fast food. We are going to talk specifically about leading teens to the sacraments.

Do you have any comments or questions about these topics? Let us know!

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