Empowering Our Youth to Make a “Mess”

Posted at Catholic Lane and Catholic Insight

PhotoIn one of his World Youth Days homilies, Pope Francis told the throng of enthusiastic young adults that he wants “a mess”. “I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!” he exclaimed. The participants embraced his words, reacting with the customary jubilation we have come to expect every time the Holy Father addresses the crowds.

The Holy Father was encouraging the youth to go out and spread the Gospel. As a mom of young adults, I am excited at the thought of my children’s generation going out and evangelizing but at the same time, I’m cautiously optimistic.

As a catechist of young children in my parish, I am all too aware of how weak most families are in properly teaching their children about the Catholic faith. Many Catholic schools are not much better and if homilies are lacking in solid catechesis, then the Catholic faith we are handing on to our children isn’t complete. At best, it’s a “feel good” type of religious instruction without any substance and weight for when life gets tough. At worst, it’s something largely unrecognizable from Magisterial teachings or  condemns  anyone who doesn’t share Catholic beliefs. My concern is that eager but improperly formed youth will evangelize an improperly formed faith.

In a guest column for Catholic News Agency, Alice von Hildebrand writes that”one of the biggest lies clearly propagated in our society is that a precondition for universal peace and harmony is that people refrain from proclaiming that they know “the truth.” (A Plea: Back to Socratic Paganism. Catholic News Agency. July 26, 2013) Objective truth is not a popular concept. Anyone who doesn’t subscribe to relativistic, pick-and-choose morality is considered narrow-minded and behind the times. Unfortunately that mentality is flourishing in some Catholic circles and is being handed down to our children, including the ones who have been instructed to  “mess” up their dioceses. Are we teaching our kids to seek objective truth despite its unpopularity? Are we instructing them correctly in the beautiful, timeless teachings of the Catholic Church? There’s too much evidence to say that many of us are not doing our job.

Objective, unadulterated, authentic Truth is what our youth need to encounter. Von Hildebrand goes on to write that “once we recognize that Truth is incarnated in a Person, the only adequate response is ‘adoration'”. Adoration – profound love of God that leads to submission to Divine  Will –  enables us to discern correct Magisterial teaching from man-made interpretation, give due reverence to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,  and  know and love the fullness of the Faith instead of picking and choosing. When our youth fully understand that, they will be a powerful force for spreading the Good News.

Making a “mess” has to start with parents, catechists, clergy, religious, teachers – all of us charged with imparting the fullness of the Faith to our children. But before we can hand down the beauty and teachings of Holy Mother Church, we first need to know and integrate them in our lives. Then we can transmit them. We owe it to ourselves to fully live out our Faith and we owe it to our youth to equip them with the proper tools of evangelization.

The WYD participants are brimming with energy, hope, optimism, and ideas. With the proper equipment – the right knowledge of the Catholic faith and a burning desire to defend Her -they will be unstoppable. If we teach them well, our young people won’t just “mess” up our dioceses, they will “mess” up the whole world.

Photo courtesy of Fr. Allan MacDonald, Vocations Director, Companions of the Cross

Deo Gratias

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21 Responses to Empowering Our Youth to Make a “Mess”

  1. SaintlySages says:

    Excellent post, Terry! My parents and teachers taught me to be orderly, and not to be a mess or to make a mess–that applies to both spiritual things and material things–for the Creator draws order out of chaos, not vice versa. God bless!

  2. The good news that I see is that our youth by and large want the truth and are seeking it out. If we provide the resources like Catholic.com and Catholic Answers along with scores of other faithful resources, they will find the truth and mess up the world. Great post.

    • From my volunteer work with kids and youth, I see that hunger for the truth, just as you said, and that is so hopeful.

      • MissesC says:

        Amen! I also learn a lot from my students who are too young to be aware of the “political correct” way of expressing themselves. So, the truth comes out unadulterated. Goof for them!

  3. Yes, Terry. You are so right.

  4. reinkat says:

    Great post–and I loved that you make the point that the “mess” starts with us, even us old folks. Too often we do sit with our “feel-good” thoughts and avoid controversy & speaking up, and let somebody else do it. We all need to take part, in word and deed.

  5. liturgy guy says:

    Great post Terry! I particularly value the following observation from your post:

    Making a “mess” has to start with parents, catechists, clergy, religious, teachers – all of us charged with imparting the fullness of the Faith to our children. But before we can hand down the beauty and teachings of Holy Mother Church, we first need to know and integrate them in our lives. Then we can transmit them. We owe it to ourselves to fully live out our Faith and we owe it to our youth to equip them with the proper tools of evangelization.

    Thank you Terry!

    Brian
    Liturgy Guy

  6. Erin Pascal says:

    I like the way Pope Francis connects with the youth. He is really doing a very good job. His message was simple yet full of meaning and he also makes sure that everyone can get the message. I am starting to see a better tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome news. 🙂

  7. Thanks for this post. You communicated so well many of the concerns that have been rolling around in my head for some time. I plan to share this blog with my catechists at our next staff meeting. God bless.

  8. Teresa Rice says:

    Great post Terry!! Over the years I have noticed that many Catholics are ill informed about their faith. You are right when you said Catholic schools aren’t much better. I went to two Catholic schools and I learned more from sponsoring a teenager in RCIA than in all my years taking religion classes at school. I would say youth who are about 22 and below are searching for the Truth. This is a very good sign. Making a mess is good but it has to be a good mess, the right mess and not the garbage which is being spread by modernists and relativists. God Bless.

  9. Catholic Glasses says:

    Reblogged this on Catholic Glasses and commented:
    Amen!

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