Tuesday, September 11, 2012

That Thing For Young Adults

When I heard about That Thing For Young Adults (TTFYA) I was really excited.  As an inquisitive 25 year old Catholic, I felt I was alone in my quest to muddle through the complex teachings of the church.  Our church family is universal in scope, yet locally, after the age of 18, young Catholics are left to their formative adult years without recourse to youth clubs or specialised youth workers.  Cue TTFYA.  It’s the brainchild of Lizi Martin at NYMO, who recognised the need for a regular meeting for 18-25 year olds to get to grips with their faith as young adults operating in a largely secular world.

Saturday 8th September was the first meeting, entitled ‘Church’.  Liam Lynch, chaplain at St Joan of Arc School, gave the talk, which was split into three sections:  Church: Leadership, Church: People and Church: Mass.

Using the example of church teaching on sex, Liam highlighted to us how, instead of taking the view that church is out of date, it is timeless, instead of out of touch it is fully present, and instead of exclusive it is inclusive.   He asked us to ‘reframe’ our view of aspects of our faith:  do we see scripture as law or as gospel (good news)? Do we have a religion or a relationship with God?  Do we feel the tired weight of expectation rather than the thrill of expectancy when we come before God?

We looked at the church as people.  We should, as Christians follow ‘Christ’ rather than ‘Ian’, and consider church not as a factory, but more like a gym membership.  We are all on a journey, trying to imitate Christ more and more each day, but for our lives to have an effect on others, Liam spoke about the need as young adults to live with integrity.  As believers, we must develop our competence, our charisma and our character in balance, so that we are one true and whole being, living authentically as a Catholic and with integrity in all areas of life. This is especially true in the age of social networking, where we should strive to be the true incarnation of our authentic online selves.

Personally I found the breakout session that came next particularly useful and especially challenging.  Liam gave us three questions:  1. Where is your character weakest?  2. Where are you segregated instead of integrated? 3. What’s your mission?

I had to laugh at the third question casually tagged on at the end!  It’s such a huge question for every person alive to answer, and it’s one that I suspect many never do.  Nevertheless, this was an excellent opportunity to re-focus and start to listen to God speak into our hearts about our respective faith/ life journeys.

The talk finished with Liam again asking us to reframe our perception of mass, transforming it from something repetitive to something accessible, something predictable to something consistent and something boring to something deep.  He urged us to come to mass not with the heart of a consumer, but rather with the heart of someone who says ‘how do you like this, God?’

Mass, with us all seated in a circle around the makeshift altar-cum-pub table was a very special ending to the day.  Mass allowed us to come and be with God with a refreshed understanding of our faith and renewed excitement at the prospect of continuing young adult life as Catholics with a faith relevant to every aspect of our lives.

Thanks to Lizi, Liam and Neil for a great day.

I can’t wait for part two in Luton!

- Olivia, St Joseph's, Gerrards Cross

A section of the talk is available to view, just click on each part below:

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4