At the Dec. 11 Youth Night I promised a blog post that would recap the semester. I will now deliver!
The Light Shines in the Darkness...
We opened our semester with a high-energy Kickoff that celebrated our 25th year of Youth Ministry at the Parish, and introduced our theme for 2011-2012: "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn. 1:5). This theme centers upon a personal encounter with Christ, the Light of Life. This encounter is really an invitation into a relationship that illumines, awakens, and renews one's humanity. The light of Christ really can change your life...and it really does cut through the darkness of fear, doubt and sin....but only if one allows it to.
Where do we encounter this light? Through the Church. Christ is alive and well (thanks to the resurrection!) and he can be encountered today, just as he was encountered 2000 years ago, through the Church - her witnesses, words and Sacraments.
In an attempt to grow in this relationship with Christ, and as witnesses within the Church, we looked primarily at our words, the words we said at Mass, and the Word made flesh and encountered in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
John 6 lays out Jesus' insistence upon the Bread of Life being one and the same with his flesh. As the crowds begin to realize that he is speaking literally, they walk. Will we? Read more about this Youth Night HERE.
Each Mass opens with a time of preparation, called the Liturgy of the Word. We are preparing ourselves for a real encounter with Christ, the Light of Life, in the Eucharist. The Church looks to Christ's walk on the Road to Emmaus as a pedagogical example - and fashions the liturgy as such. Christ breaks open the words of Scripture in light of the saving action that happens at Calvary. Then, he breaks the bread and gives it. The Word of God in Scripture is encountered in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Word of God in Scripture prepares our minds and hearts for receiving Christ, the true Bread of Life, in the Eucharist.
From this point, we launched into the nitty-gritty elements of the Mass itself. We used the New Translation as a catalyst for our understanding. The words to the New Translation are a bit loftier - they better signify the transcendent realities of the Mass - through which we are invited into a deeper understanding. Our Catechetical Mass helped in this regard, as we took a slow stroll through every element of the Mass and had our questions answered.
We wrapped up the semester by turning to Mary, the first disciple. Through her faith, humility, obedience, and receptivity, Mary received God's Word and goes forth as a disciple to proclaim that Word. So too, we receive the Word of God (by listening to the Scriptures and in the Eucharist) and are literally sent ("Go forth!") to be witnesses to the Light, after each and every Mass.
I can't forget to just mention our big events this semester: Credo, Fall Retreat - Into the Darkness You Shine, Run, Jump,-n-Play, and Ice Skating!
The Word that we receive in the Eucharist also shines light into our lives. This semester, we specifically looked at the words we use...whether in daily life, or when utilizing social media. You can access both of these talks below:
...and the darkness has not overcome it.
Next semester we will take steps to walk in the light, to follow Christ, to live in the light. We'll do this by examining the relationship that we have with Christ. All relationships, even the most loving ones, demand certain things in order for them to bear fruit. Our relationship with God is the same. The morality proposed by the Church ought not be viewed as a list of heavy demands placed upon us. Nor should they/the Church be viewed as an oppressive authority. The morality of the Church is actually quite reasonable. It is one that centers around the Christian event - the relationship with the Person of Christ. We will explore this relationship and the call to achieve greatness (not mediocrity) next semester...so get excited!
May the Light of Christ break into our lives once again this Christmas, and may our ongoing conversion draw us deeper and deeper into the Mystery of God. Merry Christmas!