Friday, April 01, 2005

Ministry to Young Catholics--What's your advice?

Another appeal for feedback from Young Catholics:

This summer, I will be speaking to priests about ministry to young Catholics. I will be speaking about everything from popculture and politics to polarization to generational issues to what young Catholics might be looking for in their priests.

If you had the opportunity to speak to priests about this topic, what would you say to them?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in my early 20s, with some experience in youth ministry, and I see many people in Gen Y looking for one thing: Unity in their Catholic identity.

Young people badly want their church to manifest the spiritual & ecumenical orthodoxy that JPII defined in so loving a manner.

In the post-JPII world, nothing turns young people off more than a religious or priest who publicly dissents from church teachings, practices and doctrines.

Young people do not want to re-fight the battles of the 1960s.

And I think this is partly why wonderful orders like the Jesuits are declining & new "conservatives only" orders like the Legionaries are on the rise.

When any one of us fails to offer the fullness of orthodoxy in our programs, our young people seek it elsewhere.

Some go to the margins of church & society. If they love Latin hymns but a nasty old liturgist says "no" to them, they might get sucked into a Tridentine-only parish.

And if they love pro-life causes or social justice, but the pastor is too closed-minded to help them grow in those ministries, they may become radicals in a bad crowd.

So I'd beg priests: Publicly follow every rubric and teaching of the Church for the love of God.

Make every part of JPII's teachings available -- not just the carefully parsed excerpts you offer in your bulletins or sermons.

If you disagree with something, that's fine, but please don't manifest your dissent on the days when you're wearing a Roman collar.

Teach every aspect of Catholicism, not just social justice and liberation theology. Teach the theology of the body & teach the sexual ethics of Humanae Vitae.

Above all: Be pastoral.

As with JPII, I think the religious orders that dare to ignore conventional "left-right" politics in their embrace of the Cathechism will be the ones that draw the biggest crowds.

Given the temper of today's Sunday Mass youth, I also think decline awaits any order or person who refuses to live with the reality of the post-JPII church.

I do not see those who expend all their energy fighting battles that ended in the 1960s (moral teachings, male-only ordination, vernacular liturgies, etc.) speaking to the hearts of our youth today.

The reality is that we are living in 2005 in a church that opposes war, poverty, homosexual marriage, abortion, contraceptives, etc.

The challenge is to teach and live ALL of it -- to "walk the walk" as our pope did, despite what the world does or thinks of it.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Thanks for your comments!

I'd add one thing. In the immortal words of Monty Phython's: We're not dead yet!

I don't see any evidence that the Jesuits are declining. Indeed, I'm exicted that interest in us and the numbers of those joining us seems to be growing!

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the first poster is pretty far off the mark; there is a tiny subculture of Catholicism that embraces ultraconservative movements like the Legionaries. What "turns young people off more" is not public dissent, but the mean-spirited ad hominem attacks against anyone who doesn't follow a Jansenist brand of Catholicism that is so prevalent in cyberspace (and almost nonexistent in the pews). Do you think your average twentysomething Catholic cares whether or not the local priest slavishly follows the liturgical rubrics? Isn't it fairly obvious that they care much more if the local priest shows real happiness in his ministry?

4:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(From the first poster)

One cannot dispute the insights of the latest poster regarding the Legionaries and ad hominem attacks.

The poster could be correct that the Legionaries appeal to an almost non-existent subculture. (I know only that they are growing and the Jesuits are declining.)

And he's absolutely right that ad hominem attacks among Christians are always deplorable, regardless of target.

However, I must point out that the poster is offering a bait-and-switch rather than responding to my remarks.

He also implies, by his context, that I might be an internet Jansenist myself.

Perhaps this is my fault for being unclear. I do not doubt the poster meant no harm.

My proposal was not for priests to follow the rubrics like robots, but for priests to choose/embrace the rubrics "for love of God."

I think such an attitude is the only spirit-proven solution to the ill-will and confusion that often prevails in the pews.

But I was much more concerned about the moral issues I mentioned than about the rubrics.

As Bill Maher said on his program last Friday, critiquing Bill O'Reilly, the spirit of Christ is not such that we Catholics are invited to "pick and choose."

My larger point was that priests should be more pastoral.

The spirit of unity, not personal happiness, should always guide a priest's public actions.

And I do not think the two of these things are mutually exclusive.

Indeed, as JPII showed us, one can be happy and follow the rubrics at the same time. The key is to follow the spirit, never to seek to lead it.

I do not think these comments necessarily contradict the latest poster's own feelings. Rather, I hope they clarify my prior remarks.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Dorian Joye said...

I think something important I would like priests to know about youth ministry, including college kids, of course, is that whether many of us will tell you up front, the youth hunger for the truth--not a watered down or "easy" version made for second graders. Highschool and college-aged students should be treated as adults in the Church as many of them are confirmed Catholics. That should mean something, right? Give us solid theology and solid guidance. Of course we have minds, as we should and WILL use them. However, as one of the posters was saying before me, most twenty-something-year-olds don't care about the rubrics of the mass, but that is because most twebty-something-year-olds have no idea what they mean, or why the priest is required to follow a General Instruction! Tell us like it IS, and don't worry about stepping on peoples' toes. Sometimes, we all need a good toe sqaushing to wake us up! In fact, I'd say treat us to one on a regular basis.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Gen X Revert said...

I would say the first poster makes a good point. The teachings have been so watered down for 30 years that young people want to know what Catholicism is, starting with basics. Also, don't be afraid to get into deep topics as JPII did. Young people will appreciate that. Also, young people don't want to hear pious platitudes, they want to hear real Church teaching from people who understand that people they encounter are not particularly nice and that real Christian living means to suffer because of evil. Also, please try to relate things to real life situations - I have been on retreat with some of the "biggest names" in Catholicism and even very devout, smart priests can sometimes seem like they don't have a clue what it means to be trying to earn a living, pay bills, and deal with backstabbing co-workers, etc..

6:45 PM  
Blogger ShadowMayhem said...

From my perspective... I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to how "the church" views the younger generation...

I would say: Show us your joy, show us that you see Christ in us and that we can see Christ in you, challenge us but do so in love, Don't forget that you too have to put your shoes on one at a time just like us. And when we fall or fail in our mission to live christ like lives or if something bad happens to us because of someone else don't view us diffrently or treat us diffrently... we will come looking for healing in our time and our own way, let us do so at our own pace.

1:39 PM  

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