Modern youth seek a spirituality of communion

April 30, 2013

Youth in general are seekers of communion and unity. Most youth look for opportunities to belong to a group or to bring another youth into a group. Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, community helps build their identity. It helps a young person decide who they are and what they aspire to be and do in life. 

In community, youth are able to share their gifts and talents with others. For most youth it is a pastoral support as well; they search for a group that helps them feel loved and wanted. Parents, adults in advocacy of youth and members of the faith community can help young people guide and nurture a spirituality of community that will lead them toward growth in faith and love that is centered in Christ.

The Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization (OACE) strives to make opportunities that nurture spirituality and help build youth community both parishes and the Archdiocese. These efforts assist parents and youth leaders to provide their youth growth in a spirituality of communion. The OACE calendar on the Archdiocesan website contains many opportunities that include a component for youth to develop their spirituality of communion within those programs. One such program, Young Ambassadors for Christ, forms young people for leadership within the Archdiocese that is to be shared with the parish youth ministry. Another program that builds spirituality in community is the Catholic Service Immersion, where youth serve together, learn together and pray together for the benefit of the larger community in need. Youth are urged to share their learned skills and knowledge, as well as helping to create that spirituality with their parish community.

A spirituality of communion is fed by a gathering of people that celebrates Christ as its center for communion. The fruit of that gathering is a felt care and relationship with others that recognizes the dignity and God’s love given to each person. In the yield of these fruits, one begins to enjoy a spirituality of hospitality, inviting others to their rightful share in the bounty of God’s love and His gifts of each other. Taylor Deshotels, from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe, is enjoying a spiritually of communion at his parish; he shares the following experience:

“Being a community is not just a Catholic thing, it’s human nature. As humans we live in communities where we thrive and support each other. We are naturally called to be a community. Being in a Catholic community calls us to learn the faith from others and teach others what we know. Speaking from experience, my Catholic community probably taught me the most about my faith. My faith formation gave me the opportunity to talk about life issues, Church doctrines and other issues concerning our faith. I am very blessed and thankful for this opportunity.”

In 2000, after the conclusion of the Jubilee Year, Pope John Paul II wrote “Novo Millennio Ineunte” in his contemplation for the new millennium. In this document he addresses the spirituality of communion: “A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us... a spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a ‘gift for me.’” 

In Galatians 6:2, a spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to “make room” for our brothers and sisters, bearing “each other’s burdens.”

As we continue to embrace and develop a Pastoral Plan for the parish, we do well to continue to welcome the youth toward developing this spirituality of communion in their youth ministry and as part of the work and celebrations of the parish. How can we help our youth hold and enjoy this spirituality? How can we, with God’s grace, animate ourselves toward a spirit of communion that serves and invites others?