The Youth Room:
This past week we celebrated the Mass of Confirmation. Thirty-one members of our St. Joseph community were Confirmed by Bishop Elizondo. It was a beautiful and Spirit filled celebration. Bishop Elizondo made several great points in his homily. He used a quote by St. Augustine at one point. He said: “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, in all things charity.” St. Augustine
It’s a thought provoking quote that brings up a few more questions. The biggest in my mind is, “What is essential versus nonessential? And just who determines that?”
In my years teaching Confirmation these types of questions come up every year. Teens seem to want to know just what exactly the Church teaches on a variety of issues and if it is okay to disagree with the Church on certain issues. It’s a difficult, but very important question. This year I had a very honest and thoughtful young lady who came straight out and asked me if she could be a “cafeteria Catholic.”
My philosophy on teaching Confirmation (and any other class) is to teach what the Church teaches in its entirety without watering anything down and certainly without my opinions. Everyone deserves the fullness of truth. The “job” of the students is to try to listen with an open heart and then prayerfully begin to wrestle with the topic in their hearts and minds.
If we are honest most of us will admit that at different points in our lives we have struggled to accept any number of teachings of the Church. The struggle to understand and accept is not sinful. We only sin when we fail to stay in the struggle. When we shut the door on the Church and dismiss Her as being out of touch with the real world. Our responsibility is to continue to study, continue to read and continue to pray about each issue.
Only through prayerful study will we come to understand the essentials and embrace true unity and it is through study that we can experience true liberty of mind and heart. That struggle to understand and accept will lead us to charity, especially for those still wrestling with certain issues.
To our newly Confirmed Catholics, I say first of all, congratulations. Second, know that your formation hasn’t ended, in fact it has just begun. Each and every day of our lives we are challenged to continue to form our hearts, minds and consciences. Remember to always stay in the struggle. It has been a joy and privilege to serve as your catechist this year.
To the rest of us, pray for these young men and women. It’s hard to be a Christian in our culture, especially as a young person. There are times when it must seem like no one else is Catholic or even believes in God. Pray for them to have courage to stand up and be different, to be bold, to be faithful, to be Catholic.