Friday, 6 June 2014
A Mission To Our High School Youth
Mission To Our High School Youth
Later this year we are having a Youth Mission in our local High School led by the Youth Ministry Team of our Diocese. It is always a great thing to work with those younger than ourselves and both inspire and draw from their good will and enthusiasm, but it is an enthusiasm that doesn’t often extend to The Faith itself. There is certainly an enthusiasm for this world (its social justice as well as its pleasures!) but little enthusiasm for personal morality, doctrine and reception of the sacraments. It’s this that any youth mission needs to challenge and build.
We cannot doubt the sincerity of the people who have worked and continue to work hard to bring youngsters to God, but all over the Western Church we have been doing the same kind of thing now for 20 plus years, with no increase in Mass attendance or commitment to parish life. Some of the ideas that came out in our own recent meeting were useful: bring people into school to give witness testimonies; bring people into the school chapel for Adoration slots; have a Mission Cross go around the parishes and a prayer cards so that parishioners can pray for the youngsters. But not once during the meeting was a central place for Holy Mass mentioned, nor was there any mention of the other sacraments. To be honest, neither Mr McDowell or myself mentioned them either; the last time we had a youth mission meeting we mentioned them but we were told that “getting the youth to Mass isn’t the thing; we just want to give them an experienced of God and set them in the direction of faith”. This was again said at the very outset of this current meeting.
This is worrying because it is too feminine; too experiential; too much based on ‘good feelings’ -and feelings are no basis for a sound and deep-seated Faith. Ideas about wrapping the mission prayer around candles are good as far as they go, but they will not do for the young men: it is their mothers who take candles into the bathroom while they bathe and sip wine, not their dad: he is outside tinkering with his car, mending the fence or mowing the lawn. Attracting the guys back to the Faith is important because the girls follow the guys in more than just their fashions. As to asking what the youngsters want, I think we know: a God who tells us how special we are at a jamboree of a Mass; one with no moral laws who simply wants us to build a just society on earth.
What the youngsters need, and what I shall be saying at our next meeting, is (1) solid talks on essential topics at the start of the school day (the existence of God, heaven & hell; the Catholic Faith as the One True faith; the Mass as Sacrifice, Sacrament & Heaven; the need for the sacraments; and the moral law as it pertains to oneself and society); (2) a Penitential Service towards the end of the Mission; (3) a daily Mass and Adoration periods. These, as the core of The Faith, must come first. They can be supplemented by our prayer cards, candles and parish crosses which are not without value, but these ought not to be the principle activities of the Mission.
Please say a prayer for the success of the Mission, that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the minds of our youth with His Wisdom, and strengthen their good will by His power.