July 9, 2010

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Art of Christian living finds its best foundation in families

I concluded last week’s column with this important message of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

“In the face of a growing indifference to God, the new evangelization must not be about a social or political structure, but the person of Jesus Christ,” proclaimed Pope Benedict. “Human life cannot be realized by itself. Our life is an open question, an incomplete project, still to be brought to fruition and realized. Each man’s fundamental question is: How will this be realized—becoming man? How does one learn the art of living? Which is the path toward happiness? To evangelize means: to show this path—to teach the art of living” (Address to U.S. Catholic Educators, April 17, 2008).

Our college students and young adults hunger for answers to these questions and others. They deeply desire to be taught the art of Christian living.

Jesus Christ and his Church satisfy the hunger and position our future married couples, our future priests, and our future religious on a solid foundation, a foundation made of living stones. Teaching the art of Christian living begins in our families, in the life of our parishes and in our universities throughout the archdiocese and nation.

Teaching the art of Christian living finds its best foundation in our families. Instilling the faith in a child is the greatest gift parents can give to their children.

Often times, in a relativistic world, parents succumb to the temptation to allow their children to make their own decisions about religion and faith. This is done in the name of freedom of choice. True freedom comes in knowing truth. The first responsibility of Christian parents is to teach their children the truth of Jesus Christ and his Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2223).

This task begins with parents being a model of Christian living themselves. Prayer in the home must be a daily foundation for growth in Christian maturity of all children. Weekly celebrating the Holy Mass and the good habit of frequent confession should not be optional choices, rather given expectations and at the heart of family life.

Finally, it is essential that all children receive orthodox, catechetical instruction both in the home and through the Church’s Catholic schools and religious education programs.

This great responsibility does not end upon receiving the sacrament of confirmation or at high school graduation. Christian parenting is a lifelong commitment.

Perhaps the most crucial stage of growth in Christian maturity occurs at the young adult stage of life. After high school graduation, young adults are making some of the most paramount decisions of their lives.

In their minds and hearts, young adults grapple with questions of this life and eternal life: Who am I? Why am I here? Does God really exist? If so, why does he allow such suffering in the world? How do I choose to live my life? Who will I marry? Is God calling me to priesthood or consecrated life? How will I know? To whom can I turn for truthful answers to these questions and so many more?

This is no time for abandonment or a vacation from parenting. It is the very time to be actively present and encouraging to young adults.

Parents and families are crucial in balancing free will and responsibility to truth in young adult children. It is also the time for our parishes and university Catholic centers to build a bridge between high school and their young adult years through outreach and catechesis.

Our parish communities play a crucial role in teaching the art of Christian living. “Educating new generations in the faith is a great and fundamentally important task that involves the entire Christian community,” one that has become “particularly difficult” today and, hence, is “even more important and urgent,” according to Pope Benedict (Address to U.S. Catholic Educators, April 17, 2008). The parish is a living family which ensures this essential task of Catholic education.

The U.S. Catholic bishops, in their pastoral plan “Communities of Salt and Light,” define the parish as a place “where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action, and of hope. They are where the Gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the Earth. Parishes are the home of the Christian community; they are the heart of our Church. Parishes are where God’s people meet Jesus in word and sacrament and come in touch with the source of the Church’s life.”

This truth of Church places an even greater emphasis on the important role on young adult and college ministry in our archdiocese.

In the community of faith, it is the parish family which takes a vital role in welcoming, engaging and evangelizing young believers and non-believers. †

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