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important thing we can do is pray. God will provide. He always does. Each person is on a journey and we cannot force them to join us. All we can do is pray that God will bring more people to the Church and to educate those who ask us question about what we believe.
B.K. Bergman: In an effort to encourage youth to Catholicism, the Church has begun less traditional youth masses and programs like Lifeteen.com. These masses include use of amplified guitars, drums and less traditional music. How important are these type of programs to bringing youth into the faith?
Andrew Ouellette: LifeTeen is a wonderful organization that has been a great blessing to the Church in the last 25 years or so. I was very fortunate to help start a LifeTeen youth group at my parish back home in Indiana and I have seen its success in bringing youth together to embrace Christ, the Church, and each other. One important thing to note is that while youthful masses are great for my generation we cannot take away the sacred mystery that is the Mass. We cannot look away from Jesus, who is our primary focus at Mass, and focus on ourselves. I have noticed that this generation of Catholic youth is a generation that is completely new. The Catholic youth of today, or the John Paul II Generation, is a group that is bringing new life into the Church. Eucharistic Adoration, devotion to the Blessed Mother, respecting the sacredness of the mass, an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the love of one another are all what this generation of Catholic youth are all about. A generation I am happy to be a part of.
One talked about the benefit of religion being acceptance into a group. The other blamed the intolerance of religious people for turning young people away from religion. If you hadn’t just read the interview, you would easily assume it was the exact opposite contributor that made each statement.
It’s truly enlightening to see such clarity in both points of view. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s an altruistic hope that as America continues its journey, we can finally shed some of the hatred and intolerance both our past and present have shared.
When we look at this country during its inception, we see a nation of Christians who set out to create something entirely different. Oppression would be replaced with freedom. Of course, freedom looked different back in the 1700s then it does today or even a hundred years ago.
During it’s youth, America struggled with its definition of freedom. Back then freedom meant blacks were property, women couldn’t vote, Protestantism reigned and only white men could own property (including slaves). We look back on all the intolerance that this nation has overcome and think how ignorant those who walked before us were. Yet, intolerance is still very prevalent. We work just as hard today to deny people similar freedoms. The denial of same-sex marriage, the lack of acceptance of illegal immigrants as a part of our nation’s productivity, and the blockade of mosques for Muslim-Americans all contribute to what is holding America back. We still have much to overcome.
In Part 1 of this series, Andrew Kohut, the president of The Pew Research Center, pointed out that it was the Millennials who ensured the election of Barack Obama to the White House. What we as a nation would not do in previous generations with breaking a color barrier, the Millennials did. Statistically, this generation is far more open to individual forms of expression and differences. For better or worse, our acceptance of individual’s rights and beliefs is the founding principle of America. We may not agree about everything but that’s really the point – we don’t have to. Although, it’s interesting in reading the views of this Atheist and this Catholic on just how similar they see things. As different as we think we are – we really aren’t that difference. That alone should be the bridge that unites us as nation. At least, we can hope that this will can be done in the future.
This series, “Youth & Religion,” contained 3 Parts. You’ve just read Part 3. If you missed Part 1 or 2 of this series, you can click the below links to read each part
Youth & Religion Part 1: “Who are the Millennials?”
Youth & Religion Part 2: “It’s Complicated”
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