Strong support, strong faith
The spiritual life of our Catholic Youth Begins at home
Baptised into faith by their parents, the Y-Generation also known as the “We Generation” aged 18 -30, might still believe in God, but how their belief is portrayed can vary.
A recent debate aiming at young Catholics world-wide revealed that the youth might have succumbed to societal pressures and forgot their faith. In Mat 5:13-14, calls us to “be the salt of the earth and the light of the world” .It is a call for the future leaders of our catholic church.
A leader in generation Y studies, author, speaker and general leadership expert working with parents and students, Dr. Tim Elmore says: “Teens and young adults are overwhelmed, over-protective and over-served .These characteristics manifest themselves in a number of problems among the youth that includes fulfilling commitments”.
Young people are individualistic, a generation that wants to find their own way in life, physically and spiritually .They tend to choose what to belief in and how they practice their faith.
Born into the catholic faith facing similar challenges in life as your son or daughter , I too struggled to find my faith, I rebelled against everyone and everything ,saying things like, church is boring ,asked improper questions like ,why should I attend church, if I can pray in bed .Older people around me didn’t supply me with proper answers ,simply saying that I must attend mass every Sunday ,so that I can get to heaven one day .As I got older I found out its because of the lack of knowledge I had in the understanding of the catholic church, that I repelled and was disinterested .
All that changed on a day when I actually went to mass. My parish priest, Fr. Thaddeus Oranusi, preached about the importance of families attending Mass together .He pointed out that the primary source of formation is the parents. Children get their ideas about God and religion from adults, so faith is formulated by watching and listening to their parents. We don’t get told to do so, it’s intuitive. We do what we see our parents do.
National youth chaplain Fr. Sammy Mabusela agrees: “Parents are the first teachers in any child’s life, they are the first people a child has their encounter with. Therefore a lot of or almost all children learn from their parents. They play a big role in the formation of the faith of their children by both their deeds and the information they pass on to them. Imagine if a parent does not have an encounter with the Lord. How will they pass faith on to their children if that is something that they have not internalized and lived by themselves first?”
The practice of faith is in constant competition with modern technology: TV, internet, cellphones, iPods and so on. For the past generations, church was one of the few lifestyle options: nit so for Generation Y and in the battle for attention the church is drowned out.
The youth are a neglected group in society and in their churches. When a platform is created and consciously in a life of a church, a sense of belonging is made. “The Church must truly become a family for the youth, where they feel accepted, welcomed, loved and appreciated as they are,” says, Fr. Mabusela.
So we end up asking, what faith is? Why do we need it in our lives? Why is it so important to us? “Faith seeks understanding and must be nurtured into maturity,” says Fr. Mabusela.
If God is love and love is God, we can say that God is the community and God came to us through the community. Fr. Mabusela adds that God’s self-communication in the incarnation and the communication also in receiving Christ in communion that we become the community of faith that we are called to be.
We often ask why believe in God , if we cannot see him .The youth of today wants tangible proof before believing, therefore it makes it difficult for them to believe in him because they cannot see him.
How can we persuade young people that the Catholic faith is the right path?
“Young people are to put our money, where our mouth is, to walk the talk. They need not only hear us talk about all the wonderful things that need to be done and not lifting a finger or even try to do them .They look more at what we as adults do than what we say. We need to be crediable role models for them in living our faith, hope and love in every area of our lives. Unless this happens then, they would not know that our faith is the right path, “says Fr. Mabusela.
“These years of your life are the years which will prepare you for your future. Your “tomorrow” depends much on how you are living the “today” of your youth. Stretching out in front of you, my dear young friends, is a life that all of us hope will be long; yet it is only one life, it is unique: do not let it pass it vain; do not squander it,” Pope Benedict said at the closing Mass of World of World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid.
In order for the youth to become credible witnesses, they need role models in the faith, people who will be there, in every step of their spiritual life .Every strata of society needs to be evangelized. “Faith should not just be a Sunday affair, but a way of life,” says Fr. Mabusela.