Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Confirmation Sponsors

If you have read my blog for very long-esp in the early days-you know me to be passionate about Confirmation formation. Well, the sponsors are part of that formation.

Let me vent first: Why, kid of all of 15 years old, are you picking your cousin who is barely older than you? Why are you asking your brother who lives an alternative lifestyle in LA? Why are you asking someone who lives 10 hours by plane away? This person should be an active and faithful Catholic, someone who knows their faith-or at least is willing to learn-and is highly concerned about the state of your soul and how you life and how you are getting to heaven. Do you get that?

Ok, now that that's off my chest.

I think we struggle so much with the spiritual poverty that is in most of our Confirmation programs that it's just enough to get the kids to some sort of place to be ready for a Sacrament. I have formed programs and I get that. However we can't over look the role that the Sponsor has. If we start making them be more active than just showing up for the rehearsal (maybe) and the actual Mass we show both them and the kids that this is serious business.

I would tell the kids that their sponsor need to be in town, or can travel for meetings. When I got the groans and phone calls from parents I explained that this person should be an integral part of the kids lives, someone that they look up to and can learn from, so yes, someone in their lives on a regular basis. I'm sure Aunt Susie is great, but 1000 miles away??

As for the meetings themselves make them substantive. We do everyone a massive massive disservice if we think that they can't handle the truth. If for nothing else, God will ask you about that when you get to heaven and I'm not sure "I was afraid" is going to cut it. No, plan times where the sponsors come with the student and do an evening of Bible study or an interactive night on the Virtues or Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Have the sponsors come to service events with their Confirmandi. Give them a list of ideas of how to interact with a teenager. We do if for a living, they may be a little afraid of them sometimes. Give them materials to go over with the teen -maybe go see a movie together and have questions about how the movie brought out some aspect of the faith. Or read a particular book together. Or go to Adoration together.

This is an excellent time where you can, to some extent, assist in the formation of the Sponsor. We all know that sometimes we get really great sponsors for the kids and other times you are thinking "What??? Why did your parent allow this???"

So take advantage of the time to minister to the adults. If you have a solid core team, you could even consider inviting the sponsors to go on retreat and your team could pray over them. Most sponsors would be blessed by it- (after they got to the retreat, I know getting them there might seem overwhelming at first.)

And lastly, pray for them. Pray for their deepening conversion so that they can be strong witnesses of Faith to the teens that we are working with. Pray for the needs of their lives, for grace and mercy to be poured out upon them and for their active response to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Youth Ministry Almost Five Months Later

Hello Faithful Readers! Thanks for reading. Jen and I have been lacking on posts, but we've made the commitment to get back to posting again. With that, I figured I'd give an official post, with a youth ministry favorite...highs and lows. So, in just five months, I'm able to say I have a high and a low for the week.

Low for the week: Other than the obvious low being that the entire office staff (including me) got the 24 hour stomach flu, I have another more ministry related one: Parish (staff) politics.

I knew they existed, but you're never really sure how much until you're in it. We're making renovations happen to our office, which means people have to move. I don't but my space might be shared. This of course leads to talk about who's going where, who has more space, why this person can't move there. Really, I'm just trying to not have my youth room trampled upon... I know this doesn't sound politics related but it all is. I'm a firecracker and i think that the rest of the staff is not used to someone who's so free about what she thinks...This is good and bad. I listen and I listen well, which means that everyone tells me their scoop. I just want for everyone to stand up for themselves, say when they have too much on their plate and learn to say no! Being Catholic does not mean being a doormat.

High for the Week: Although I could name a few (like going out to lunch with the associate director of youth ministry for the Diocese, or going out to lunch with Deanery 2 YMs) an obvious Holy Spirit moment takes the cake....The High for the week is about the Holy Spirit putting words into my mouth that must be heard.

This week at our Sr. High Session we talked about the Epiphany and what it meant for God to put the star in the sky, about how stars give off light, how God used common things to help us know his love and of course, that the wisemen brought Sweet Jesus to the world. I had litebrites set up all over the room (they could win them if they answered questions correctly), which were cool and really the whole session was anointed. During my catechesis, I talked about how proud God was that his son was born and that because he wanted to show us Jesus, he put a star in the sky. What I say was: BOO YAH! God put a star in the sky. Now, this excited the teens of course...and they absolutely loved it. BOO YAH is right....God is BOO YAH! The Holy Spirit gave me that moment to make the connection with them. I love when he gives me little gimmicky things to say so that He seems more accessible to them.

Later on that night, we decorated wooden stars (they were meant to represent one way that we can always find Jesus when we're lost, and how we're meant to be his light to the world) and I thought many of them would write Matthew 2:2 on their stars, or something of the like, but what do they write....BOO YAH! It was awesome. I know it might not seem that way, but any moment, when they get it is just glorious.

If you're interested in this session, I'd be more than happy to email it to you. It was pretty FLY!

Promise to post more regularly...I'll pray for you. Pray for me.

St. John Bosco, Champion of Youth, pray for us.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Gladiator and the Martyrs

I know it's an older movie, but have you seen "Gladiator"? It ranks in my top 5. Some days it is my number 1 movie.

My friends that are girls are galled at me: " It's such a violent movie! How can you stand all that blood and fighting"? But they miss what it is all about.

It helps that this movie is set during Roman rule. When he is fighting as a gladiator and the lions are released on him you can't but help think of the early Christians.

But the major thing I see in this movie is a man who is martyred for the Truth, for a dream that was Rome. He lost everything-he was a general meant to be murdered, his wife and child burned and murdered and his mentor and father figure Marcus Aurelius who was leading Rome as Rome deserved was murdered-all murders by Marcus Aurelius' hack of a son Commodus (played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix) who hates the principled hero Maximus-our Gladiator.

Throughout the movie there is always the chance that Maximus will be killed as a gladiator. Commodus had ordered him killed initially and tried to do it again and again. "Fate" would not let this happen. Maximus stays alive until his mission is accomplished. Other scenes show Maximus as a uniter of the gladiators (who are meant to compete against each other to stay alice) and they hail him for it. They rally around him to protect him.

Commudus, on the other hand is only out for himself. He whines that the crowd does not love him, tries to seduce his sister and plots to kill her son who is the heir apparent. His selfishness turns him in to a psychotic paranoid. I love how they show him in white-which to our imaginations means "the good guy"-but a very twisted white. He is pale white with shadows under his eyes and his white robes barely disguise a ruler gone bad-ghostly, barely human.

Maximus' actions spur many people in the movie to return to virtue and for the work of the good. I think the best line of the entire movie comes at the end when his fellow gladiator, Juba says "and now we are free. I will see you again...but not yet... ... not yet". It brings me to my knees every single time ('course the music behind the scenes just about undoes anyone listening, sung by the immensely talented Lisa Gerrard who doesn't sing words but "as the Spirit leads"). And the nearly last scene? With the doors? Good gravy get me a Kleenex, I just love the end the best.

My other favorite line-and I'm pretty sure I blogged about this awhile back-is at the beginning and is the theme for the movie and should be the theme of our life: What you do echoes in eternity. Isn't that a great line?!

I realize it is rated "R" , mostly for intense graphic combat but I would absolutely use this movie to inspire teens to greatness. You can use various scenes on their own, to be sure, but the entire movie is worth watching and then having a discussion on. We are in the business of forming future saints-and Gladiator shows the purpose and necessity of going through the rigors of this life for martyrdom for the Gospel .

PS What do you make of Maximus' reaching down to pick up dirt before each battle?

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Happy New Year

It's a new year! Did you have a good break-did you take a break? Please say yes.

It is a new year and you are half way through the school year. Well done! Being on the front lines is hard but know that God's grace is ever present. In those staff meetings where you wonder what in the world the liturgist is going to say next or wishing your pastor would approve your plan to take the kids bunging jumping (COUGHLiabilityCOUGH) or some mother has just ripped you up one side and down the other or a kid seems totally and irreversibly pagan, just keep going. Keep relying on the Grace of God to move you and be docile to his Holy Spirit.

You have our prayers!