Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Young Adult Reflections on Catholic Faith

A while back, and I do mean at least a few good months gone by, our diocese did a round table discussion with young adults from across the diocese. I thought this might be an interesting place to post some of the questions and answers to see what we think. There are nine so let me just start with the first two. I'm amazed with what I have read so far. The insight, the faith, the hope, all inspires me as we look at the future of our diocese.

1. What excites you about the Catholic Church? Why are you Catholic?

∙ Cradle Catholic

∙ Hope: Resurrection

∙ Guide for my life

∙ Community/belonging

∙ Theological grounding

∙ Action: evangelize, make the world a better place

∙ Mystery: A God of surprises

∙ Catholic social teaching: Respect for human dignity, social justice

∙ Prayer and work

∙ Eucharist; the opportunity to receive Eucharist daily

∙ The witness of the saints

∙ Scripture and Tradition, including apostolic tradition

∙ Moral authority and teaching of the Church gives it “back bone”

∙ Richness of liturgy and ritual

∙ Diversity and multi-cultural nature of the Church

∙ Transformative power of the Church on our lives

∙ Sacraments – experiential nature of the sacraments

∙ Even with tradition, there is always “newness” as well in the Faith

∙ Many possibilities for ministries – to match the stages of our own life

∙ Music ministry

∙ Sacrament of Reconciliation – a tangible way to know God’s forgiveness

∙ Universality of the Church

∙ Recognition of the Trinity

∙ The challenge to be “counter-cultural” in today’s world

∙ The unique place of Mary in the Church

∙ The evidence of the Holy Spirit working in the Church always

∙ The opportunities to grow spiritually, not just on an emotional level

∙ A community of support for the family

It's amazing how many ways the Church can reach people. You can see so easily how the Church as mother stretches her arms wide to meet us all. Isn't there something for everyone? As unique as each person is the Church extends herself to meet them. The Church is often written off for being so narrow-minded and behind in the times. Yet here, is this not evidence of that the Church is alive and active, living and moving and changing hearts through the Holy Spirit. Ok second question. This one is a bit tougher but I love the responses.

2. What are the reasons young adult Catholics give for leaving the Church?

∙ In their homilies, priests are often boring and speak in monotone, the content is not lively and actively engaging young adults, the content is often geared to the older Catholic generation. The preaching is watered down; seems like a waste of time.

∙ Music at Mass is horrible

∙ Lack of apologetics that show how the Faith is both reliable and absolutely true

∙ Lack of fraternal support in the faith from friends. Need Catholic fellowship in the same age group

∙ Absence of ministry to young adults in the parish

∙ Lack of a sense of community

∙ Young adults are busy and overscheduled

∙ Lack of Catholics in parishes with an authentic and vibrant Catholic faith

∙ Fear of Confession

∙ Anonymous Confession is not readily available; it’s scheduled at inconvenient times

∙ Secularism draws young adults away from the Church through its own form of evangelism, especially by means of the media (e.g. television)

∙ Sloppy liturgy

∙ Lack of catechesis; general ignorance of the Faith; bad catechesis

∙ Do not know about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

∙ Do not understand the Mass, often because its transcendence, heavenly aspect is ignored, so they expect entertainment like you find in other churches

∙ Not given good reasons to be Catholic

∙ Catechesis does not challenge the opposing values of our secular culture

∙ The Church isn’t evangelizing, it isn’t inviting young adults outside the fold

∙ Lack of active youth ministry in the parish to evangelize the young before they age

∙ Lack of excitement among clergy and parish staff

∙ The faith is not taught in a depth past the bare essentials

∙ The Church is viewed as being a rule maker and they have this idea that being a Catholic is about following rules or laws, which are strict

∙ Scandal and hypocrisy

∙ The liberal and secular media.

∙ The secular, materialistic culture is stronger than Catholic culture

∙ Building careers take priority in life

∙ We are not challenging in our preaching and catechesis. Young adults want to be challenged!

∙ Lack of intensity in what the Church has to offer. Young adults need powerful experiences

∙ Lack of true discipleship that radically changes and equips

∙ Atmosphere that is not child friendly

∙ Lack of Bible study geared towards young adults

By the way, the picture above is a joke. :) They are just too funny to not post sometimes.

I think as seminarians these words have to be convicting. I know so many young adults who have either left the Church or stand on the fringe of the Church. We all know many. And how many of these reasons might very well resonate with them. I think as seminarians part of what we can realize, what I try to realize, is our studies becomes a ministry because we are preparing ourselves to be able to catechize, preach, teach, and evangelize effectively. And we need to know our stuff and not simply the doctrine but Christ Himself, his love, his mercy. There is so much that needs to be done that it can be overwhelming. I'm always feeling a bit like I'm not the one for this task. But that is why the first question came before this one. :) We have hope, the Spirit is always moving, with us, and guiding us towards how we can bring conversion to our own hearts and the lives of the faithful, especially young adults. AMDG.


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