December 8, 2017

Sharing the faith: High school seniors encouraged to live ‘on God’s terms’ and transform the world

Following the annual Mass for archdiocesan high school seniors on Nov. 29, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson stands by the center doors of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, greeting, shaking hands and posing for photos with seniors from Catholic schools across the archdiocese. Here, he smiles for a group photo with seniors from Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis: Erika Campbell, left, Rosemary Butler, Payten Morris, Rachel Doyle and Allan Schneider. (Submitted photo)

Following the annual Mass for archdiocesan high school seniors on Nov. 29, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson stands by the center doors of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, greeting, shaking hands and posing for photos with seniors from Catholic schools across the archdiocese. Here, he smiles for a group photo with seniors from Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis: Erika Campbell, left, Rosemary Butler, Payten Morris, Rachel Doyle and Allan Schneider. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

In a world where many people play the lottery in the hope of having the life they desire, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson told seniors from Catholic high schools across central and southern Indiana that they have already won that prize.

“Every one of us has won the lottery,” the archbishop told the students who packed SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Nov. 29 during the annual Mass for archdiocesan high school seniors. “If you don’t believe me, just read the paper or listen to the news and see all the poverty, see all the people fleeing their country because of persecution and abuse and injustice.

“You’re getting one of the greatest educations humanity has to offer. Your conscience is being shaped along with this education.”

Yet that gift also comes with challenges that will test them every day, the archbishop told the seniors from the Indianapolis Catholic high schools of Bishop Chatard, Brebeuf Jesuit, Cardinal Ritter, Cathedral, Father Thomas Scecina Memorial, Providence Cristo Rey and Roncalli, plus Seton Catholic in Richmond, Father Michael Shawe Memorial in Madison and Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg.

“What will you do with this gift?” the archbishop asked during his homily. “What will you do with this informed conscience when you have to meet the challenges to your faith—the challenges to what you know is right and what is wrong? How will you respond?”

The archbishop said these challenges are ones he also faces, as do all people.

“Every day I get up, I have to re-commit myself to be willing to embrace the way of Christ the King, no matter what stands in my way. And each of you must do the same.

“It’s an honor to celebrate this Mass with you. It’s an honor to look out and see how our Church is forming and educating you. It’s going to be an even greater honor to see where you go from here with such a gift, such an education, with such a background of Catholic faith and teaching that points us to something beyond this world—that points us to where we find true meaning and purpose and life.”

For Catholics, life’s meaning and purpose must focus on sharing Christ’s message with others, the archbishop said.

“Jesus gave the Church this mission—to proclaim the Good News of mercy, light and love, of eternal salvation. And he asked each of us as members of this Church to embrace this mission, his mission of Good News—even when it’s rejected, even when it means we have to sacrifice and suffer from time to time.

“As we gather here, let us remember all those around the world who are suffering greatly, even with their lives, for the faith that we sometimes take for granted.”

Archbishop Thompson also encouraged the seniors to live their lives “on God’s terms” instead of their own.

God calls us “into the body of his Son Jesus Christ, into the mission of the Church, the mission of Christ the King,” he said.

“Let us not take our faith for granted. Let us not take for granted the grace and strength we receive here and now together with the body of Christ to face the world—a world today that is filled with a lot of abuse and addictions, a lot of problems that only God’s love can heal and reconcile.

“We are called not to be transformed by the world but by the grace of God—to be those means through which the world is transformed.”

At the end of the Mass, the archbishop shared one more message with the high school seniors:

“Please know I pray for you. I pray that you make good decisions that are life‑giving and not merely pleasure‑seeking—that you make decisions not only thinking about the moment but thinking beyond to what is true and good, and truly of God’s grace and that is the dignity you have as children of God.

“And I ask you to please pray for me. If we can make that deal of prayer today, I’ll have the best that I can possibly ask for. I wish the best for you.”

The archbishop’s humility and homily resonated with the seniors, based upon comments some of them made after the Mass—a time when Archbishop Thompson spent nearly 25 minutes by the center door of the cathedral, greeting, shaking hands and posing for group photos with the youths until the last one had left.

“I thought [his homily] was really interesting,” said Casie Maexner, a senior at Bishop Chatard High School. “I like how he connected it with us.”

So did Sam Hubert, a senior at Oldenburg Academy.

“He gets the youth very well. He understands how to talk to the younger generation,” Sam said. “That was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t know much about him. He’ll help get more youths into the faith.” †

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