What comes to mind when you see or hear the term, “Youth Ministry?” In one of the longest chapters of the Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (which can be found on this link at the Vatican site) we’ll start a series of posts that look at “Areas needing to be developed.”
How does this matter, one man’s opinion? My sense is that each youth ministry, parish, school, or group, could look at each of these and judge how well or poorly these are being done. Here are the topics ahead: service, the arts, sports, and nature. We begin with prayer and liturgy:
224. Many young people have come to appreciate silence and closeness to God. Groups that gather to adore the Blessed Sacrament or to pray with the word of God have also increased. We should never underestimate the ability of young people to be open to contemplative prayer. We need only find the right ways and means to help them embark on this precious experience.
Sometimes it can be enough to provide the opportunity. It is also important for leaders, youth and older adults, to model this in their own lives. It can’t hurt to dedicate one’s own prayer life as well–if we believe intercessory prayer has any value at all, we would be taking time to pray for our charges and companions.
Pope Francis on liturgy:
When it comes to worship and prayer, “in many settings, young Catholics are asking for prayer opportunities and sacramental celebrations capable of speaking to their daily lives through a fresh, authentic and joyful liturgy”.[FD 51] It is important to make the most of the great moments of the liturgical year, particularly Holy Week, Pentecost and Christmas. But other festive occasions can provide a welcome break in their routine and help them experience the joy of faith.
Consider those three adjectives: fresh, authentic, joyful. None of them exclude any genre of worship. But not all of them are always applied well to the variations found today in Catholic liturgy. Most people struggle with “fresh.” Progressives and traditionalists point fingers at the other about those other adjectives, but I think that can be misplaced.
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