|The Children of the King
PRAYER-SHARE GROUP FOR TEENAGERS
"A serious moral crisis affects the lives of many young people, leaving them adrift. They are often without hope and are conditioned to look only for instant gratification. Yet everywhere there are young men and women deeply concerned about the world around them. They are ready to give the best of themselves in service to others. They are particularly sensitive to life's transcendent meaning.
But how do we help them? Only by instilling a high moral vision can a society ensure that its young people are given the possibility to mature as free and intelligent human beings. Then they will be endowed with a robust sense of responsibility to the common good. Then they will be capable of working with others to create a community and a nation with a strong moral fiber.
To educate without a value system based on truth is to abandon young people to moral confusion, personal insecurity and easy manipulation. No country, not even the most powerful, can endure if it deprives its own children of this essential good. Respect for the dignity and worth of every person, integrity and responsibility, as well as understanding, compassion and solidarity toward others, survive only if they are passed on in families, in schools and through the communications media."
|Pope John Paul II:
From his Arrival speech to the
President of the United States
on the Eighth World Youth Day
August 12, 1993
The Holy Father loves and believes in young people. The above quotation makes that fact crystal clear. He constantly speaks about the youth of our world in optimistic terms. BUT JOHN PAUL II IS ALSO A REALIST. He realizes that the contemporary "culture of death" is destroying many young lives. The sad statistics on teenage suicide, pregnancy, and abortion; the rising tide of violent criminal activity involving teens and even pre-teens--these all provide evidence that Satan is fast on the move to destroy the youth of this world. In the face of all this 'bad news' a question must be asked: Can this downward spiritual and moral spiral be stopped and reversed? Is it possible? Praise God, the answer is "YES!" However, in order for this positive reversal to occur, something must first happen. YOUNG PEOPLE MUST BECOME FIRMLY ROOTED IN THE TRUTH! As the Holy Father tells us in the aforementioned quote, "to educate without a value system based on TRUTH is to abandon young people to moral confusion, personal insecurity and easy manipulation." The pope rightly believes that moral relativism is at the root of Satan's strategy to steal today's younger generation. And he also realizes that the only way to counteract this relativism is with a clear proclamation of the TRUTH! That means that JESUS must be proclaimed to young people everywhere! He must be proclaimed in churches, in schools and in families. Because Jesus IS the TRUTH! As he himself told his apostles, "I am the Way, and the TRUTH, and the Life." (John 14: 6) When young people meet Jesus in a personal way, and are then taught to build their lives on his full gospel message, they soon find direction, meaning and purpose for their existence. As Jesus himself would put it, they begin to know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH sets them free (cf. John 8: 32).
Here in our community we try to follow this philosophy in ministering to our teenagers. Each year we take two busloads of young people to the annual high school youth conference sponsored by the University of Steubenville. For many young men and women from our area, this conference has provided the setting for a powerful, life-changing encounter with God. The music at Steubenville is upbeat, the conference speakers know how to minister to youth, and the Holy Spirit touches every young person present who has an open heart.
Once our teens have made a personal commitment to Jesus (either through their Steubenville experience or in some other setting), then the real work of evangelization begins. In our experience, Satan always tries to steal the seed of faith that gets sown in the hearts of these young people. (cf. Matthew 13: 19) To prevent this from occurring, we have a weekly prayer-share group (called 'the Children of the King') which meets on Thursday evenings from 7-9 PM in the sanctuary St. Pius X Church. At this prayer-share group we sing and we pray (sometimes within the context of a Mass, sometimes not). We also teach the faith and discuss issues relative to teenage life. In this way, we try to disciple these young people according to the TRUTH--THE FULL TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL AS TAUGHT CLEARLY AND AUTHORITATIVELY BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. Some might call our approach "heavy handed." They would say, "You should be gentle with teenagers, or you'll turn them off." And yet, for the most part, the response of our teenagers is overwhelmingly positive. That's because many young people today are hungry for the TRUTH. They want to be given clear moral guidelines. They're sick of the garbage the world has been feeding them. They know all too well the destructive power of materialism, lust, and selfishness. Some of them know it by experience! Consequently, when they're taught the gospel in a clear and convincing way, they readily embrace it! And they enthusiastically begin to pass the message on to their friends. In this regard, we've recently begun a youth-to-youth ministry effort in our community known as "the Road Crew." Through talks, discussion, music and a very moving skit, the members of the Road Crew very effectively bring the gospel message to their peers. So far, we've made our presentation to several confirmation classes in the area, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Praise God!!! Perhaps we could bring it to your parish someday soon. If you're interested, call Fr. Ray at 401-596-2535. And pray for us, that the Lord will continue to bless our efforts in his name and for his glory!!!
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