Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The hope in our youth

Confirmation group May 2015

The month of May was filled with dynamic steps in the life of our youth.  We celebrated Confirmation and First Communion as well as college and high school graduations.  Yet, what will there future be?
Two of our three graduates in Maynardville. We also had one college graduate.
The only one of six Catholic graduates in Rutledge who attends Mass

In Sherry Weddell's book, "Forming Intentional Disciples" she opens with some startling statistics. Here are a few: 

24% of 18 - 29 years old do not belong to any religion.

From 2000 - 2009 nearly four times as many adults have left as have entered the Catholic Church in the United States.

Of those who left the Catholic Church, 71% "just drifted away" and of 79% left by age 23.

Furthermore, 42% of those who left do not even believe in God.
The first communion group at BTC, May 2015
The first communion group of JP II, May 2015

Given these realities what will become of the smiling and happy youth who just made their sacraments of communion and confirmation?  What will become of our graduates?

I deeply hope that their experiences through the Catholic Church and these sacraments help them know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, as their friend and brother.  These sacraments of Holy Communion, the reception of Jesus in his body and blood (see John 6),  and Confirmation, "being sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit" will be the beginning of a dynamic life lived in Christ. 
The reception of the Body of Christ
The reception of the Blood of Christ

Our world is full of violence, greed, indifference, and self-centeredness.  Poverty and disease still affect vast populations in the world.  Christ came to announce the Reign of God ... of new way ... a way of justice, peace, mercy and hope.  We need every committed Christian to stand up and deliver.

These young people are part of that plan, both now and in the future.  Already, they can do things in their schools, in the work force and in their homes to bring the light of Christ more clearly in the world.  Whatever they choice to do in adulthood, if it is guiding by the Holy Spirit and gives honor to God, it will help change the world.  
"Be Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit"
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life ..."

Yet, so they do not become a "drop out of faith" statistic, the current church, especially, their parents and our local members, need to love them, challenge them and encourage them to be faithful to Christ.  We can do that best by our example and by spending time with them.
Three generations of faith

These pictures show youth with  great joy and hearts on fire with faith.  May we help that faith staying burning.
JP II first communicants preparing to sing "Let their be Peace on Earth"

1 comment:

  1. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer