A Kairos Moment

I had the weekend off because I was wrapping up a Kairos Retreat with Maria Goretti High School, so no homily; thought I’d offer a word on the Kairos experience the past few days…

For those who may not know or be aware of the Kairos Retreat, the basic premise of the retreat is to allow the participants the opportunity to contemplate the role of God in their lives and an opportunity for great transformation. Needless to say, it lived up to it’s goal the past four days!

In all my years of working with high school teens, it never ceases to amaze me the challenges that many face on a day to day basis. Whether it is family problems, addictions, lost hope, broken relationships, and the list goes on and on. It often feels like they have been forced to be “little adults”, just seeming that when I was their age, life seemed much easier and there didn’t seem to be so many challenges like the one’s they face daily.

You could ask any of the adults that help with these experiences just how much of an eye-opening experience it is, a great testament as to why high school needs to be just as much about formation as it is about education. There are too many that just do enough to survive and don’t really have the opportunity to be “kids”. Many of them would tell you themselves that they feel a great deal of pressure to succeed ALWAYS and that things are never quite “good enough” for the adults in their lives. Yes, goals and expectations can be good, but not to the point where it forces them to be pressure cookers, waiting to explode.

Even though I no longer work with teens on a full-time basis, I don’t think I will ever stop being an advocate for them, especially for the young men who struggle without a male role model in their lives. Many would say that the immaturity of young men (college and beyond) has reached an epidemic level within this country of ours and so the necessity of male role models is even more important, in teaching young men what it really means to be a man, most especially from a Christian perspective. The paradox of the whole thing is that for some reason “kids” have been given the power, even within schools, often to the detriment of their formation; and yet, the shadow side of it all is that they don’t know how to handle it all. It is our responsibility, as adults, to show them and model it for them.

There is, then, the whole issue of God as well. Yes, there are believers, but what do we do with the atheists, the agnostics, those that simply equate God with the Church and hold a grievance against both, many with good reason. How do we balance them all and yet, still meet there where they are at. Some don’t know why they are even where they are at, some have been hurt, quite hard at that, some remain apathetic, and others are just simply lost. I only ask, where did we go wrong? When did all the “issues” become more important than the faith formation of these young people. I have always said, if we don’t teach them how to have a living relationship with God and who God really is, and to think critically of it, we are only going to continue a downward trend in those that “practice” their faith. For many young people, it has been disconnected, and for many adults as well!

And so “my” kairos moment…well, it’s still in process, but I pass on this passage from Saint Paul which summed it up: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me. Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” It really is in God’s hands and the grace and the seeds that have been placed in the hearts of them and me the past few days. It isn’t about a “moment in time” but rather a change that happens over the course of our lives. My heart ached at times for them and yet, they remain a big part of my hope for the future. They, we, are now called to preach with our lives what it is we believe; I’m grateful for the gentle reminder that the experience has given to me!

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4 thoughts on “A Kairos Moment

  1. This past week has been rough to say the least with 4 family members in need of some serious medical attention. Today my sister posted in an email to our family that with the past week now behind us and all 4 family members on the healing list, it is a blessing to know God has covered everyone of us with His Mercy and Grace and how fortunate we are to know our Father and to know He is in control.

    I replied back stating and we have our mother to thank for us knowing our gracious and all loving Father. If it wouldn’t have been for her taking us to church very early on and our mother sharing daily in her devout faith, we would not be where we are today. But yes times have changed and our youth are growing up in a generation where the focus is on everything but where it should be ~ learning about our Holy Father. I have a grand daughter from a broken family and I know her trials everyday, and it’s not easy! How did we get to this point in our lives with our youth today? I will continue to pray for ALL youth.

  2. We are living in the age of the “over-commited,” most especially with our kids. I have heard many express the concerns written here. Add to the over-commited status, the “unrelational” status with the advent of facebook, twitter, texting and other social media. We run a risk of a generation unable to have effective and meaningful interpersonal relationships because electronic communication will dominate. That scares me a bit.

    Teens will always have issues to contend with, the biggies like divorce, death, bullying, alcoholic parents, etc. Our role as Church is to give them our presence, our ear, our time, not across facebook or twitter, but in meaningful dialogue and encounter. We need to share with them our own personal experiences of pain, how we grew from it, how we overcame it, to give them the hope that is certainly there that it will get better. We may, as adults, actually have to be a little vulnerable to them. Nothing less than what Jesus did. To the atheist and agnostic, we can only present the witness of our own lives and keep the gentle pulse of the Gospel going, with its message of love, forgiveness, tolerance. This is a difficult time for all to really “love” their RC Church given the scandals that seem to continue, the heavy judgment of how people live their lives and who they choose to love. I can only imagine how we look to the unbeliever. But, the Church is a pilgrim group not intended to be starting from a state of perfect holiness, but working toward it. Our leaders will fail us, our friends will fail us, but we have to be bigger than chucking it all and giving up. Because at the end of the day, the unpublished and unreported and unstressed goodness of the Church and our unsung ordinary people who give us joy on any given sunday outweigh these highly publicized failings. At least that is what i try to do. But it is hard.

  3. Father…you are a gift to the youth to whom you minister…I only wish that there were enough clergy to spread around so that you could spend more of your time with them.
    Sometime, we must do lunch, so that I can share with you my experiences with minority athletes, coming from homes where the father was often not known, or, if known, absent.
    You are a person of prayer….and that shows in your comments at weekday Masses…I used to go to Saint Ann, but now am happily ensconced at Saint Mary…

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