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2 Questions I have for the Church after listening to my Children

Personality and Faith, and the Mind-Body-Spirit Movement

In last week’s blog I shared parts of a Zoom conversation I had with my four adult children,

three of whom have disaffiliated from the Catholic Church. (See “6 Reasons 3 of my Kids Aren’t Catholic” ( The blog had thousands of views, showing how significant the issue of disaffiliation is for so many people. This week I share a bit of the conversation we had around how my adult children approach spiritualty today, and the questions they raised in me.

1.Do Personality Traits Influence Which Children Latch Onto Faith?

As my children listened to each other’s experiences of either disaffiliating from, or sticking with the Church, one of my children made this observation: “I was just thinking about how the two of us who got off the path to being Catholic early on [12-13 years] have similar personalities. We are both people who like the freedom to function outside the rules. Whereas the other two are more likely to accept rules and run with them.”

Is it possible that we’ve missed the simple fact that personality plays a part in whether faith attaches to a child? If so our one-size-fits-all catechetical approach to religious education of children is overlooking an important reality. This isn’t so much about visual learners, versus auditory learners or kinesthetic learners. This is more likely about providing space to question at an early stage.

2. Is The Mind-Body-Spirit Movement The Holy Spirit?

All the children talked about their spiritual practice. One finds spirituality a confusing space

because there are so many interpretations and relies predominantly on meditation when needed. Another specifically relies on a four-step process: “Therapy helps me to reckon with my internal feelings. Then I fit in something physical, for the mind/body connection. Then, it’s about maintaining connections with other people, like family and friends, and finally doing some sort of service.” A third is committed to living in nature “I’m normally someone who fills myself with noise to keep my head straight. I no longer have any interest in having my headphones in when I’m outside.” The fourth sees Catholicism as a tool for spirituality. “It’s the structure I have in place - and I think that’s the key word…structure.”

In our post-Christian culture, the mind-body-spirit movement has emerged to fill in the gaps left by the exodus from organized religion. I believe that the Holy Spirit always finds a way and is using this movement in a manner similar to the way water always finds a way to flow. The forms water takes continue to change as it moves from the melting snow on the mountain tops toward sea level. So too, the Holy Spirit appears to be taking on new forms to support the spirituality of people beyond organized religion. I’m beginning to think we may need to write some new liturgical prayers.

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