Thank You Young Catholics!

In Christianity on April 20, 2009 at 12:28 am

Fr. Michael Cassabon’s homily at St. Mary’s Second Sunday of Easter was a wonderful reminder that real love—God’s love—goes well beyond the slogans of pop culture like “I’m lovin’ it,” McDonald’s, or Hard Rock Cafe’s “love all, serve all.”  God’s love for us in and through Jesus Christ is genuine love, kindness, and compassion.  We tap into that love through the Sacraments of Baptism, the Eucharist, and Penance.

But Fr. Cassabon’s homily was a reminder of something else, too:  the richly textured role that young people today are playing in the Church.  As a recent convert, it is hard to adequately describe what an encouragement young Catholics have been to me.  Young people and young priests like Fr. Cassabon, along with John Paul II’s influence upon them, are all bound together when I look back at the ways God led me to the Church.

When John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, my wife and I had just moved from California to South Carolina.  The California real estate market had treated us well.  As a result, I had several months off to settle in and find a job.  It was during this period that John Paul II died and I was able to watch CNN’s extensive coverage.

As Fr. Cassabon related this morning, millions of young people flocked to Rome to say goodbye to their Pope.  I had not yet begun my pilgrimage to the Church, but their love for this godly man was striking.  I thought, “This is not a Church on its last legs.”  Nor is this a matter of conservatives battling so-called progressives.  This is something far more vital and significant than scandal-ridden picture of the Church the news media has attempted to portray over the past few years.

In Courage to Be Catholic, George Weigel covers recent challenges the Church has endured.  Yet through all the challenges, and despite the detours stemming from misunderstandings of Vatican II, a magnificent tide of young people are carrying on—no, actually, surging forward and strengthening—the authentic faith and practice of the Catholic Church.

I pray daily for Fr. Cassabon (his first Solemn Mass is here), along with Fr. Christopher Smith who was Parochial Vicar when I began attending St. Mary’s (now at St. Francis by the Sea in Hilton Head).  I pray for Fr. Eugene Florea, of Saints Simon and Jude, whom I met during a trip to Phoenix.  I think of the pew filled with college-age young women, praying next to my wife and me, during at visit to the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.  I give thanks for the godly young men who serve at the altar at St. Mary’s, and their solemnity, leading us into worship.

Too many sentences begin with “I” in the last paragraph. This post is not about me. This post is to recognize and thank the dozens of godly young men and women I’ve met since entering the Church; the “John Paul II” Catholics; the “Benedict XVI” young people, all of whom have recognized and responded to God’s love, manifested through these two extraordinary Holy Fathers.

To each of you, may God’s peace be yours always.  Apologies to any of you who no longer think of yourselves as “young.”  From my vantage point, almost everyone is young. But I distinctly remember not liking the word from the time I was five years old.

That said, my deepest, warmest thanks, for the encouragement you are to me.  Even more than that, thank you—in the love of Christ—for all you are accomplishing and will accomplish, by God’s grace, in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church as it enters its Third Millennium.  You are, and have shown me, Christianity Richly.

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