It’s a tough a time to be a young Catholic in America. Pop culture fills our minds with base thoughts, job prospects for young adults appear bleak and the President, through his mandate on contraceptives has effectively said to the Church “To hell with you,” to quote my hometown Bishop David Zubik. However, I encourage you to have hope because “where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly” (Romans 5:20)
This was clearly demonstrated to me at a retreat I attended a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh with about sixty young adults. The theme of the retreat came from 2nd Timothy 1:6 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” The retreat gave people the opportunity to say a personal yes to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Within the span of a few days, I saw young men and women open up themselves to God in a most beautiful way. The Saturday night prayer meeting was very powerful as people surrendered themselves to God and he showered them with his blessings. People began to worship more freely and understand the power of the Mass at a deeper level. Many were spiritually and mentally healed and renewed in God’s grace. It’s quite amazing that all of this came through a simple yes to God!
I mention this retreat as a reminder that God’s Holy Spirit is in the midst of a great work among young people, “a new springtime of the Church” as John Paul II said. All we need to do is respond to the grace that is readily available to us. Although I am not able to highlight all of the Holy Spirit’s work in just one article, there are a few groups that God is using among college students that deserve mention.
Saint Paul’s Outreach is rapidly spreading among college campuses around the country to renew Catholic faith on campuses through strong Christian community life. In fact, it was Saint Paul’s Outreach missionaries that brought the Fan into Flame Retreat to Pittsburgh. In addition to leading these retreats around the country they also host a national conference, The School of the New Evangelization, every summer to equip college students with the tools to share their faith on campus.
FOCUS is also evangelizing Catholic college students at almost sixty campuses through a variety of ways such as Bible studies, conferences, and mission trips. Young adults serve as full-time missionaries to help spread the Gospel on campus and make disciples of college students and in turn, send them out to make more disciples.
I’m sure there are plenty of other groups that the Holy Spirit is using to bring people into the fullness of life found in Christ including many non-profits that allow young people to do a year of service serving God’s people in a variety of ways. The awakening of Catholic youth was also on display at the March for Life where thousands of youth came from all over the U.S. to pray against the sin of abortion in our country. It reminded me that although the times we live in are by no means easy, we are blessed to be living in a period where God’s grace is abundant.
So as we hear about the doom and gloom in society, let us not be downcast and worried about the future but renewed in hope, knowing that God’s goodness is much stronger than any attack the evil one can devise. Sure, there may be tough times ahead, but God is preparing his Church to overcome this adversity through his grace so that he may one day eternally crush that serpent’s head.
Where have you seen the workings of the Holy Spirit within the Church?