This past weekend I returned to the Gem City to serve as the Spiritual Director for Great River Teens Encounter Christ #263. It was an amazing weekend in which the love and mercy of Christ Jesus moved many young hearts. I am humbled to have been a part of it.
Anyone who has participated in such retreats knows how little sleep is often had on them. This weekend was no exception to that norm, except in that I had less sleep than usual on such retreats.
Sunday and Monday evening I stayed up with several of the young team members – the candidates we sent to bed – answering their many questions about the faith, morals, discipleship and the state of the world (I am very much encouraged by their great interest in the politics of the day and their disgust of it), honestly and directly, challenging them to think more logically about the faith and to consider their logic from the use of reason rather than emotion. In this way, it seems I answered their questions in a manner they did not expect, but to which they responded well and even gravitated toward.
As I answered their questions I tried to help them move beyond the starting point of “I think that…” to move toward the starting point of what the Church has always taught and what Christians have always believed. This is the starting point of our faith; it has been handed on to us and is not something we have created.
Since the end of the retreat I’ve been receiving several questions from them still and many of them good ones, some of which I may post on these pages.
Too often have we distanced ourselves from their questions, giving them only a cursory answer and backing down when they have disagreed with our reasoning. We have not often given them enough, a thorough, well-reasoned argument. Too often have we shied away from demonstrating the illogical argumentation of the world, which has frequently clouded their own logic.
From what I have found on retreats such as this – and from my ministry with the high school students at St. Anthony’s in Effingham – young people today are drawn to someone who answers their questions directly and challenges them plainly and is not afraid to tell them they are incorrect, if he does so out of love for them and for God. Correcting them, though, must be done without judgment or condemnation, keeping the focus always on the faith of Jesus Christ. Young people today are drawn to the logic of Jesus Christ; they simply need someone to present it to them.
With as little sleep as I took over the four nights I was away, and with the tremendous fog that never lifted, I am surprised at how well my body did. The arthritis was certainly present and the tiredness that comes from it, but it never overwhelmed me as it would have in the normal course of events with fog and little sleep. It was a reminder to me that although he does not always give the strength I want, the Lord always provides for me what strength I need for the day.
Since returning to the parishes I have been attempting to catch up on a bit of sleep. I have also been trying to get the end of the year paperwork in order and continue the work of putting everything else in order. My secretary and I are getting there, one small step at a time.