Young Catholics: let others know the joy of faith

Young Catholics: let others know the joy of faith
A Parent’s Perspective

A young woman I was talking to thought it would be difficult to ask her four friends, who are atheists, to accompany her into the church to light a candle. She’s Catholic, while they don’t believe in God; the presumption might be that such an invitation would be rejected. It’s a pretty regular concern when you’re a Catholic: do you bring up the importance of your faith among your non-Catholic or more secular friends or do you hide your light under a bushel? I spotted a post on the social network, Reddit, where a contributor was wondering how she would tell her friends that she’s Catholic. She’d recently returned to practising her faith and was worried about how to introduce this key change in her life. She felt that she didn’t want to alter the old dynamics but knew things wouldn’t be exactly as before either. In these types of situations, you could be tempted to follow the path of least resistance and live some version of a double life, remaining safely in the spiritual harbour instead of risking having to go against the tide.

November’s a great month giving us an opportunity to remember all those who have died. After the sugary excesses of Halloween, it may seem like full speed ahead to Christmas but, the month of November, the Month of the Holy Souls, is the time to focus on our dearly departed, to think about them and to pray for them. We visit our loved one’s graves and the Church encourages us to pray for the dead by granting special indulgences. This time of contemplating the souls in purgatory is also a good time to reflect upon death in general. It’s not something a lot of us like to ponder on too often but, a realisation that our time on earth is fleeting may urge us on in our efforts to live better lives. Part of living a Christian life and trying to run the good race is having the courage to leave the comfort of the harbour. There’s a well-worn metaphor that a ship is safest in port but that’s not what ships are built for.

St Dominic Savio died at the tender age of 14 but, in his short life, he always strived to win his friends over with gentleness and friendliness”

November also contains one of my favourite feast days, the Feast of All Saints. While struggling to live our Catholicism in an increasingly secular society, the exemplary lives of so many saints is a real inspiration to us. They too shared many of the challenges and obstacles that we face; they weren’t lofty, distant figures with lives we could never hope to aspire to.

They knew what it was like to face uphill battles. St Francis de Sales went on a perilous journey to restore the Catholic Faith to an area where it had been outlawed. St Martin de Porres overcame rejection and discrimination and didn’t let the difficulties of his life interfere with his kindness and compassion. St Dominic Savio died at the tender age of 14 but, in his short life, he always strived to win his friends over with gentleness and friendliness. In more recent times we have the great example of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who died in 1925 when he was only 24. A great role model for young Catholics today, he endured many of the very ordinary problems that any young man or woman might face. His parents weren’t particularly devout but this didn’t deter Pier and he became a daily communicant as well as performing many great works of charity. He proclaimed “Jesus comes to visit me each morning in Holy Communion. I return his visit to him in the poor.” Just in the last few days, we had the beatification of Sandra Sabattini, a 22-year-old woman who spent her short life helping the poor and people with disabilities before being tragically killed by a car in 1984. In the year before she died, she wrote in her journal about loving deeply the minutes you live and feeling the joy in the present moment. This lived joy that Blessed Sandra experienced is the type of joy that will attract others to the Catholic Faith. When she was 16 she wrote that she couldn’t oblige others to think like her, she could only let them know her joy. St Teresa of Calcutta said that “peace begins with a smile”- bringing love and peace with something as simple as a smile spreads the love of God to others.

We have a great friend in Jesus and also in the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints”

In a reply to the Reddit post, one Catholic suggested “All you have to do is continue being a good friend”, also saying “You can convert through example in the long run” urging the worried poster to “Pray and move forward with trust in God and love for your friends.” My son is a religion teacher in a boys’ secondary school. He told me that he wants to communicate to the children that we’re all called to be saints and that the path to sainthood is our ordinary, everyday lives. In our ordinary lives, it takes courage, as well as kindness, to be upfront and open about the cause of our faith, our hope, our joy and our love. We have a great friend in Jesus and also in the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints. What good friend would possess the greatest treasure of all, the love of God and the promise of everlasting joy in heaven, and keep this great news a secret?