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March 20, 1998     The Message
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March 20, 1998

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8 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana I 0 ! Generation X and the temptation to By FATHER CHARLES HAGAN Catholic News Service Thanks to modern computer technology, we know much about our present generation of young adults between the ages of 18 and 35. Some call young adults "Generation X" and others call them "The Lost Generation" simply because there is no single event in their short history to which virtu- ally all refer as the defining moment m not in the way, for example, that a previous generation referred to the assassination of President Kennedy. The experience of diversity characterizes today's young adults more than any other single factor. In America, they are truly the first multicultural genera- tion and the first to experience real equality transcend- ing racial, ethnic and gender differences. They value differences. Members of this new generation of young adults have grown up to be independent, resourceful -- and skeptical. For they have witnessed firsthand the fail- ures both of their parents' commitments and their role models. Young adults also are often skeptical about job prospects and the possibility of making commitments that last. They are, however, committed to volunteering their time and talent to improve others' lives. And their vision of the future often is clouded by the presence of violence and the increasing availability of drugs in society, both of which can be linked to an absence of meaning in life. New ways of ministering to young-adult Catholics need to be developed which take into account that many are not connected to the church in the same ways as pre- vious generations, and many do not know how Catholic teaching speaks to their experience of modem society. For example, Catholic faith teaches that our hope in the future is not based on human commitments or improving job prospects. Pope John Paul II noted this when he said recently, "One sometimes has the impres- sion that life is appreciated only in terms of the utility or prosperity it can procure, that suffering is consid- ered to be without meaning" ("Human Vulnerability at Century's End," Origins, Jan. 22,1998). In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church situates the virtue of Christian hope precisely in the voluntary acceptance of the experience of human vulnerability and powerlessness as described in the Beatitudes. r . i t Father Charles Hagan calls for "new ways of min- istering to young-adult Catholics... to be devel- oped which take into account that many are not The catechism teaches that "Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclama- tion of the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new promised land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and his passion, God keeps us in the 'hope that does not disap- point"' (No. 1820). Do young adults understand what it means to be "poor in spirit?" Do they want to be poor in spirit? An authentic experience of Christian hope today for young adults might begin by connecting their desire to better others' lives with the experience in their own Communicating hope to teenagers By ANDREW and TERRI LYKE Catholic News Service among their ancestors. These are stories of courage, faith, fidelity, service, lead- ership, chastity and wisdom. There are also stories of survival through shrewd- hess, even trickery. Some stories are trag- ic and violent. However, the stories all communicate that we are forward-mov- ing people. Some stories take on different meanings as we progress through the family life-cycle stages. For example, a story from Terri's side of the family has taken particular meaning for our children in their adolescence. Miss Lizzie, Terri's great-great grandmoth- er, was the daughter of a woman (name unknown) whose slave master beat her to death because she refused to "breed" anyone who was not her husband. This is a story of courage and defiance against evil. However, it speaks volumes abqut chastity to teen-agers who struggle with sexual curiosities. And because its their family story the children identify with it! We have found that communicating hope in the family is done best through family stories. These stories transcend our present circumstances and help shape our identity, With teens such stories are particular- ly powerful. Intrigued by life blooming before them, they wrestle with the tran- sition from the old idealistic perspectives of earlier childhood to the emerging new perspectives of adolescence. It is a time when youths may ride an emotional roller coaster from idealistic hope to cyn- ical despair. Otr young people are influenced by a cynical culture that disbelieves in humanity's goodness. When our news media seek to tear down rather than build up, for example, do our adoles- cents have a fighting chance against cyn- icism? To give the young a fighting chance for hope, we tell them the stories of virtue connected to the church in the vious generations." CNS lives of diminishment and failure. : ', In other words, believers need case for the to despair which many lives of their contemporaries ..... lives. This task joins all of us to tians who have gone before and in other circumstances to provide a I that they possessed. Father Hagan is a member of the r Lady of Good Counsel Church in Family stories affirm what we believe, and they hand down those beliefs to our children. Very recently- we lost Andrews father. Granddaddy's death is for our children a test of faith. We saw a sense of hope- lessness in them that we couldn't fix. However, in the lasting tradition of our family, we all gathered with relatives and friends, and we told stories about Grand- daddy. At the funeral service there were sev- eral testimonies about Granddaddy. The overflow crowd in the church and the very long procession of cars to the ceme- tery were stories in themselves about him. Our daughter, Andrea, remarked that she knew her grandfather as a gen- erous, simple man. In his death she dis- covered his greatness. This too speaks volumes to buttress our faith within a cynical culture. We dis- cover how simple generosity brings about greatne. When life deals young people the inevitable hand that says they are not worthy of love and the kinds back to the truth, they are and the come from. The Lykes are ministry to the nity for the In Jn storieS of doln.