Thursday, December 11, 2008

Catholic Q&A with teenagers

As I hope you've all figured out by now, I lead a Bible study for young adults (20s and 30s) at a nearby parish. Two of the members of the study are the leaders of a Bible study at that same parish for teenagers. I've been invited to their next meeting:
Hey Jeff, hope you're doing well. Next Thursday night, we are going to have a question and answer session with the teen bible study and Nicole and I thought it might be a good idea to invite you since you always have some great facts to share. Some of their questions are in regards to:

Reconciliation (Won't God forgive our sins if we ask)
Eucharist (Is it really Jesus or not)
Why Priests can't marry
History of the Church and corruption

and other various things about the Catholic church.
I plan on brushing up on my Catechism, and bringing along my Bible, Catechism, Compendium of the Catechism, and even Pope Benedict's recent book The Fathers. Maybe a few other resources as well. The topics listed are answerable from a Scriptural, historical, and Catechism-al approach: Scripture supports it, the history of the Church has verified and confirmed it, and the Catechism teaches it. (As for evolution, which is not mentioned in the Catechism at all, I'll take a different approach, pointing out that while Genesis 1-11 is a "certain type of history", there are some particular things we must believe from it -- e.g., the special creation of man and woman -- and certain things which are not required to be believed -- e.g., whether the "day" was a 24-hour day.)

But I'm interested in knowing how you'd approach these topics. Remember, my audience is teenagers. I'm 27 now, probably at least 10 years removed from them. (You there, reading my blog in an un-assuming manner... I'm asking you!)


Tim A. Troutman said...

Wow, you have your work cut out for you. What an opportunity though! Your answers could have big effects on their lives.

I know what answers I would have liked as a teenager but I don't think they're the same kind that most teenagers like - I don't know...

But I think you should just answer it like you would to adults.

alexw said...

You probably already know about this but just in case...

The Catechism may not talk about evolution but it does touch on the subject of the origin of man: Catechism Paragraphs 159,283

And then there's Pope Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis and Pope John Paul II's Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Not to mention the boat load of work J. Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has done on this topic in the past.

japhy said...

Tim - I certainly won't "talk down" to them. I'll be forthright and honest and "pastoral" as best I can.

alexw - Good point about looking in the Catechism for things about the origin of mankind. And I've read Humani Generis, so I'll find my (highlighted) copy and draw from that. And now I've printed out a copy of JP II's address, so I'll read it over lunch.


I plan to go into this session next Thursday with a "cheat-sheet" assembled on these and other probable topics. And I will, of course, begin with 1 Peter 3:15b-16: "Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame."

Fr. (brother) Charlie said...

One thing I suggest is to pay attention to your form as well as your content. Even if they have surprising questions or opinions, find ways to affirm their presence at church and at a teen bible study, and their recognition that the things they ask about do have meaning.
A likely problem is that young people today seem to have been taught that everybody's "opinion" or understanding of facts has equal weight and value. So if you want to teach and evangelize, an essential component is to convey the truth effectively without making them feel stupid or not valued. For example, if a teenage girl asks why women can't be priests, I would give the teaching, but I would make sure to convey with it an encouragement that she serve God in the ways he may be calling her.
Good luck!

japhy said...

Right, Father. I'll be beginning the Q&A session with two verses of Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15 and Ephesians 4:15: "Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence" and "Speak the truth in love".

I hope that I do this in a pastoral manner.

Weekend Fisher said...

Well, being Lutheran, I think there's probably only one on which I could offer any help to what you'd want to present. But on the Eucharist (is it really Jesus), how many times did the authors of Scripture record Christ saying "this is my body, given for you"? And when Paul reviewed for Corinth what was happening, he taught that it is our participation in Christ.

Granted, Christ is with us always, and "baptizing and teaching ... I will be with you always", and whenever two or three are gathered he is with us. But there is a special and particular presence in the communion, in that he is there in our hands for the forgiveness of our sins.

It goes even beyond that, that it is part of our transformation into Christ's body, in we who eat of one loaf and drink of one cup ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF