What does the Catholic Church have in common with most major advertisers, retailers, politicians and information gatherers? The desire and need to reach young people. And it's a lot harder than it sounds. Seminarian and Word on Fire blog contributor Christopher Kerzich offers some sound advice on how to, and how not to, effectively reach this "key demographic."
How can the Church communicate with young people today? This question seems to be at the heart of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which is currently underway here in Rome. The four-day meeting is focused on the world’s emerging youth cultures. After reading aninterview highlighting the meeting’s themes, this humble scribe began reflecting on ways to communicate with the multitude of emerging youth cultures. From prayer and this reflection, I’ve seen there are four ways to communicate with today’s youth and young adults. Obviously, these are focused on encouraging the most important interaction in this regard, that between the young person and Jesus Christ.
Communicate within the Group
Walking home from dinner one evening I observed a group of ragazzi (a general Italian word for “youth” or “young adults”) outside a local café gathered and talking in a group. Interestingly, everyone looked as if they belonged and no one seemed to be an outsider. All were dressed similarly, were in the same age group, and were speaking Italian. In one sense this can be an analogy for today’s youth cultures (similar dress, similar language and gathered together either physically or virtually). This means those seeking to spread the Gospel message within these youth cultures can easily come up against roadblocks. There are certain “walls” that might exclude outsiders (either of age or background) from engaging these groups. Therefore, a new evangelist must ask him or herself, what is needed to communicate within these groups that might have a tendency to exclude outsiders?...
What does it mean to be a real man? Below, Christopher Kerzich argues that all men would do well ask this question and to contemplate the "vocation to Manhood." He offers five Biblical principles on the topic.
Before addressing the men’s group at my summer parish assignment I began thinking about what to say to a group of men older and wiser that me about call, vocation and mission. After unsuccessfully writing on a variety of topics I remembered a quote that impacted my discernment to enter seminary. The late John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York once said:
“The priesthood is tough and it’s for real men. You have to be a real man if you want to become a priest.”
The striking thing about this quote is that one could interchange the word “priesthood” with a variety of other nouns, with a variety of vocations. So this began me on a path to explore one vocation that is rarely discussed: The Vocation of Manhood.
As we see on the news and throughout society, what it means to be a man is miscommunicated and quite possibly under attack. We see the projection of men as brutes, abusers of women and drugs, as well as violent animals. Our society may soon have the majority of an entire generation in which men are not raised by a father. So I began looking for a source for exploring this vocation at the center of all men.
Now I’m not going to write and tell you of my great experiences and how I’ve derived deep wisdom from them, this would be naïveté and quite possibly stupidity. What I am going to discuss are principles that are at the center of every man, principles that we all can recognize in our lives which have been shown to us by Christ. So through an exploration of five principles I hope all men can have a better understanding of our vocation, call and mission as men...