Michael Wojcik 2018-02-14 02:28:53
WASHINGTON, D.C. Catholics who minister to young people often get tempted to fill the schedule with “epic” entertainment-type experiences that they hope will get youths more excited about their faith — those packed with the bluster and energy of a rock concert. Instead, these ministers could help to animate the faith of their young people more effectively by drawing them more closely to the most “epic” experience in the Catholic religion and in their lives — the excitement of developing a relationship with Christ through silence, mediation, prayer and the sacraments with the Eucharist at the center. That’s the message of Father Philip-Michael Tangorra, a diocesan priest who is studying canon law at the Catholic University of America here, in a two-part article for Homiletic & Pastoral Review Magazine. In the article, “A Reflection on Youth, College & Young Adult Ministries: Animating the Xennial, Millennial and Post-Millennial Generations with the Spirit of Christ,” he asserts that entertainment- type activities — which he later described as contemporary Christian music concerts, movie nights or ski trips — can promote spirituality and fellowship but that the Catholic faith must be “interiorized” in the quiet of prayer and worship, not just experienced as entertainment.” “Put a young person in front of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and Jesus will go to work on their minds, their hearts, and their souls. The problem is getting them there and providing them with the understanding to know that they will be touched by God when in his presence,” writes Father Tangorra, former chaplain of Catholic Campus Ministry at William Paterson University in Wayne, before starting his canon law studies. The article — targeted to youth ministers, campus ministers and young adult ministers — was published in its first installment in January with the second installment to be published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review later this month. “The offering of Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and Confession in some form together, or following each other, provides a powerful opportunity for young people to encounter Jesus in light and truth, confess their sins and then experience the life and love of Christ in union with him. Here is where conversion will occur in the life of your young people. In encountering the sacramental life, young people will go forth bearing sacramental witness,” the priest writes. In the article, Father Tangorra cites an example of this powerful spiritual combination in the Paterson Diocese: Mary Help of Christians Academy in North Haledon. There, students regularly go to Confession and attend Eucharistic Adoration. The campus ministry of this all-girls school developed a successful Eucharistic Adoration experience, called “XLT,” a name derived from the word “exalt.” It consists of Adoration, praise — including playing contemporary Christian music — and worship with meditations focused on teen issues and time for Confession, writes Father Tangorra, also a former chaplain at Mary Help. “The students come in droves! Confessions tend to go on longer than the Adoration. Typically, the priest(s) suspend confessions to do Benediction and then return to the confessional. Healing is occurring here! [also time for quiet],” Father Tangorra writes. “Through the Holy Spirit, the nexus and gift of the love of God, which proceeds from the Father and the Son, will draw them into the interior life and love of the Trinity. This interior life of the Trinity is dynamic, but at the same time — notwithstanding its ineffable energy — is peaceful and serene. The fruit of this interior life in God must be a sense of peace, harmony, union with God,” he writes. And yet, ministers to young people “must employ a creative way of presenting the Eucharist to the young people that combines many different interests and needs for the young people. We can’t just do what we always have done, we need to be creative, energetic, and willing to bring what we have always done to the young with a fresh presentation that ‘makes it worth their while,’ ” Father Tangorra writes. It’s critical that ministers of young people introduce them to a deeper spiritualty, because many of them have suffered the effects of rape or growing up in divorced families or struggle with their sexual morality or their purpose in life. At the conclusion of the article, Father Tangorra reminds the ministers of their task in serving young people — high school and college students and young adults — involves bringing healing, which is most perfectly accomplished through an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, the visible heart of Jesus.” “A spirituality centered on Christ’s priestly heart that brings healing, forgiveness, life, and energy will find us animating the spirit of our young communities, and bringing profound renewal!” Father Tangorra writes. [To view the first part of Father Tangorra’s article, visit the website of Homiletics & Pastoral Review Magazine at hprweb.com. The second part will be published later this month.]
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