Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 16, 2009
Youth Ministers need power of Holy Spirit
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — Youth ministers can easily lose focus, confidence and direction when dealing with the “swirling mist of grey” that surrounds Catholic youth today, says the youth and young adult outreach director of the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Young people are asking “Why should I care about being Catholic? Why do I have to choose? What difference does it make who I sleep with?” said John Beaulieu. Teenagers see life in terms of “my truth and your truth.”
They come to Christ “with conditions,” Beaulieu said during a retreat for youth ministry workers in the Ottawa Archdiocese March 7. They go to youth group on Friday night, and then have oral sex with their girlfriend on Saturday night.
Youth ministers need more than a small candle to break through, he said. “You need a bright light to be seen in a thick fog.”
The solution, he said, comes from a life of holiness and prayer and through doing things with Christ rather than in his name as an idea or a concept.
Being filled with God’s grace is more than being a channel, he said, it means being reservoirs of grace that are filled and overflowing.
Beaulieu suggested asking the Holy Spirit to “come upon you with power.”
One of the images of the Holy Spirit is fire, he said, because of fire’s purifying effects.
Think of all the sins in your life, he said. Do you get rid of it by working on it, focusing on it? “No, you let go of it, and let the power of God burn it up.”
He asked if the youth ministers would be willing to place themselves on the altar like the bread and the wine and to let God transform them into “something we are not, something supernatural.”
He urged them to seek a “personal Pentecost,” where the Holy Spirit would set their hearts on fire for Jesus.
“Don’t build a fireplace for God, a safe little place for God,” he said. What if God is saying, “I want to come into your house and burn it down and replace it with a mansion”?
Let the Holy Spirit “take it all,” he said.
A father of five, Beaulieu acknowledged it is not always easy to choose among the many competing goods in one’s life.
“On Christmas Eve 2007, Pope Benedict XVI came to my house and smacked me between the eyes with a two-by-four,” he said. “Not literally.”
The “blow” came from reading Benedict’s Christmas Eve homily that spoke of how Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to rest so she could give birth. There was no room for them.
“In some way, mankind is awaiting God, waiting for him to draw near,” he quoted the pope saying. “But when the moment comes, there is no room for him.
“Do we have time and space for God?” Beaulieu asked.
Until then, Beaulieu had spent 25 years in youth ministry trying to serve God but feeling inadequate and wondering what God wanted. On reading that homily, he opened his heart to God’s love and “God came in.”
Beaulieu referred to the famous saying of St. Augustine that everyone has a God-shaped hole in their hearts, but we say to ourselves, “I’ll carve out a little space for God.”
“Are we giving God the room that he needs?” he asked. “Are you full of the fullness of God and experiencing all God wants to give you in life?”
Prayer is essential, he said, because it “unlocks God’s grace, love and mercy.” Self-denial and self-sacrifice are a lot harder.