It has now been two years since I've been here at Saint Patrick's and I've loved every moment of it! Time certainly flies when you're having fun. In my two years of being Patrick the youth minister from Saint Patrick's, I've received some very interesting feedback on different aspects of youth ministry.
I remember there were two straight nights when we did not have praise and worship music as an element of the evening. A student came up to me, and asked me why there was no praise that night, and after giving my answer, he went onto tell me that he "lives for praise and worship on Tuesday nights." At the same time, I've had students that just want experiences of silent prayer and more classic devotions; students who just didn't like contemporary music at all. Far from being pointless statements of blind preference, I believe these comments signify some real tension in our Catholic faith between the old and the new. On the one hand, we have 2,000 years of sacred tradition that is so rich and needs to be preserved. On the other hand, God is constantly doing a new thing and asks us "do you not perceive it? (Is 43:19). What are we to do with this conflict?
As one charged with the awesome responsibility of helping parents form their children in the faith, I have found the greatest wisdom and direction from the Lord himself: "every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old" (Matt 13:52). The key is both! We cannot be authentic disciples if we embrace the new and disregard the old and likewise cannot shun the new and cling fast to the old. One of the tasks is to offer programming that is balanced and exposes our students to all of the goodness that God offers his children.
Although no youth night is exactly the same as another, we actually attempted to follow a ministry model this year based upon the three expressions of prayer found in catechism paragraphs 2700-2719: a flow from vocal prayer, to meditative prayer and culminating in contemplative prayer. Check out the next article for that!