My birthplace Catholic parents instilled in me the importance of going to Mass religiously (no pun intended) but were never able to explain why we went, only replying “because we are Catholic and that’s what good Catholics do.”
It wasn’t until a youth minister explained to me the meaning, depth, and beauty of the Mass that my eyes (and heart) were truly opened.
Slowly, over time, I began to see the liturgy differently. It was as if, with every fact and insight I learned, the dots began to connect between history and mystery – between the divinity of God and our humanity, all colliding inside the walls of parish.
I received a great gift, a proverbial “pearl of great price” by a soul who not only knew the Mass, but was patient enough to walk with me as my heart and soul opened to this timeless treasure. and priceless from heaven.
We all want the next generation to develop a deep and lasting love for scripture and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, but how do we nurture and “unleash” that love in a culture that is increasingly overstimulated, disengaged, and screen-obsessed? ?
After more than 25 years in youth ministry, I’ve found out the hard way what works and what doesn’t for engaging hormone-heavy, tech-savvy teens with the Catholic faith.
Here are some of my suggestions to help teens get excited about Mass:
Our teens need our time more than our teaching points
It is important to meet our teenagers where they are, without expecting them to change their disinterest (or even their repulsion) for mass overnight. With this patience (which only comes from God), they have the space to grow and meet God on their own.
The key to evangelism sorely missed by many well-meaning ministry leaders is this: If you want someone to care about the “what” (teaching of the church), they must first encounter the ” who “(the Lord).” Everything we do during Mass points to adoration and to who God is.
You show teens who God is through how you live your faith: the reverence with which you receive the body and blood of Jesus, the time you spend in worship and scripture, and how you interact with Jesus at Mass as if he were sitting next to you. , arms wrapped around you.
They will see that, undeniably, something beyond this world is transpiring before their eyes and will begin to encounter the “who” which is the source of the “what”.
Go the extra mile
If you want your teens or the teens in your parish to really engage in Mass, it starts with asking yourself this question, “How far am I willing to go to make this happen? »
Are you ready to be a consistent example to your own children of what it means to come into worship? Are you ready to fulfill your baptismal call and your sacramental promise to raise them “according to the law of Christ and his church” (that is, to take them to Mass whether they want to go or not)? Are you ready to help equip youth ministry with the resources needed to support its catechetical efforts?
Connect Everything to Scripture
Understanding and loving Scripture is the foundation for a deeper experience of the Mass and the sacraments. After all, the whole Mass is based on the Scriptures!
I know firsthand how difficult it is to engage overstimulated modern teenagers with the word of God. And I’ve found that the best way to do that is for them to see themselves reflected in the story of salvation (so it becomes relatable), unhesitatingly when faced with their toughest questions (to give you credibility) , and showing them the big picture of Scripture (to show them how all aspects of their faith are connected).
I created “Venture: The Bible Timeline for High School” to help teenagers around the world discover the Bible. With resources like this, teens find a love for the scriptures that they will carry with them into their college years and beyond.
To be coherent
Coherence testifies to the fundamental importance of something. Give your teens the gift of consistency. Parents, take your teenagers to mass no matter what, no matter if they “feel like it”. No breaks. No excuses (not even on vacation). Actions follow beliefs.
sit in front
Teenagers are easily distracted. Instead of taking the typical “Catholic” route of sitting at the back of the church at Mass, bring your family to the front. Because we are integrated beings, our minds and souls follow the actions of our bodies. Closer to the altar, teens will have a deeper sensory experience of the Mass, feeling like part of the experience and not just witnesses. Encourage them to participate in hymns and responses.
Come with intentionality and intentions
For each Mass you attend, bring a specific person or intention to offer to the Lord and encourage your teens to do the same. Make a “sound off” of intentions before getting out of the car to go to mass.
A true disciple is an eternal student. Continue to learn more about the Mass, the Scriptures and the Bible on your own. And finally, ask the Lord to give you a spirit of wisdom, patience and joy, because we can do nothing without him.
Hart is Director of Innovation for Life Teen International. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 27-year veteran of youth ministry, he is a best-selling author of more than 20 books, a daily radio host on SiriusXM, and an award-winning writer and producer. His latest project is “Venture: The Bible Timeline for High School”, ascensionpress.com/venture.