Guide The Challenge of Being Baptist: Owning a Scandalous Past and an Uncertain Future

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Author Info Bill J. Beverley, Christopher Buck, and Constance A. Similarly, the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, is the largest annual gathering of Muslims.

Holidays and observances such as these mark the lives of observant individuals in nations around the world. Now one can study them all in one comprehensive resource. However, scholarly interest in film's religious content has recently increased, expanding beyond traditional "high art" films to the more widely distributed and commercially successful movies. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. It spread across the American West with Brigham Young's founding of over settlements and his establishment of Utah as its headquarters. Today, Mormonism is continually expanding as a mainstream global religion with, surprisingly, more members outside the United States than within.

From Zen gardens to Gothic cathedrals, to African ceremonial masks, art and architecture offer windows into the human heart and the human spirit. Downloadable File. Printed Material. A particularly evident weakness is due to the spread of corruption. Institutions should care about the common good and when someone is able to bend them to serve their particular interests, their credibility is dramatically eroded.

This is why corruption is a scourge that undermines the foundation of several societies. The challenge of social justice necessarily requires the construction of just institutions, that serve human dignity in an integral way. Disenchantment towards institutions can also be beneficial, when it becomes open to pathways of participation and people take more responsibility without falling prey to skepticism.

Several BC point out that, in a context of uncertainty and fear about the future, young people no longer connect to institutions as such, but to the people within them who communicate values with their life testimony. Both at personal and institutional level, consistency and truthfulness are fundamental factors for credibility. In a world where opportunities and proposals increase exponentially, reacting with choices that are always reversible becomes spontaneous, even if this implies a constant mortification of our wishes.

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The insecurity of working conditions and social precariousness block any medium- to long-term planning. Some BC, especially in the West, argue that it is quite difficult for young people to achieve their plans to get married without jeopardizing their economic self-sufficiency.

Furthermore, as the answers to the OLQ show, many young people are wondering how definitive decisions can be possible in a world where nothing seems to be stable, not even the distinction between true and false. Therefore, one of the urgent challenges that characterizes our age is how to present life decisions as ways to take responsibility for our own lives.

We need to focus on the features of this changed attitude towards religion, in order to interpret its causes and possible outcomes, identifying what opportunities it offers to the proclamation of the Gospel message and what risks or ambiguities it might generate. In a completely different direction, we find a remarkable situation that some Eastern European BC have noticed, related to the gradual shift of spiritual and religious practices from obligations to optional leisure time activities: this highlights the personal choice aspect, but clearly such practices have to compete with many other alternatives.

The concern and care for young people expressed in the DP was reiterated by BC. In the OLQ, several young people expressed themselves quite freely, trying to communicate their thoughts in an unfiltered way. The experience of the PM was interpreted by the young people along similar lines. BC listened to young people in many different ways. However, attention was usually focused on young people who were active members of ecclesial groups, with the risk of considering them as representatives of the entire youth world. Predictably, the majority of young people who took part in the OLQ were already part of ecclesial circuits.

Many repeatedly commented that the best way to listen to young people is by being where they are, sharing their daily experiences. Many of the respondents to the OLQ also expressed their gratitude and appreciation for this opportunity. We should also acknowledge how hard it is for the Church to really listen to all the young, without exception. Many of them feel that their voice is not considered interesting or useful by the adult world, either in the social or ecclesial domain.

A large number of young people, mostly from highly secularized areas, are not asking the Church for anything, since they do not see her as a significant interlocutor in their lives. In fact, some of them expressly ask to be left alone, because they feel her presence to be bothersome or even irritating. Even when they are very critical, basically young people would like the Church to be an institution that shines for her exemplariness, knowledge, co-responsibility and cultural resilience.

The young people who participate the most in the life of the Church expressed various specific requests. Another request refers to the introduction of a dialogue style inside and outside the Church: young people believe it is necessary to tackle a number of major issues of our time, such as recognizing and enhancing the role of women in the Church and society.

In several parts of the world that are plagued by different kinds of poverty, young people are asking for material help or accompaniment to heal their suffering. But where the Church is seen as an institution that is actively engaged in civil and social promotion, they ask that this prophetic presence might continue with courage and fortitude, despite the climate of violence, oppression and persecution surrounding the life of several Christian communities.

Many young people are asking the Church for greater operational pragmatism, touching on various issues: truly siding with the poor, caring about environmental issues, making visible choices of sobriety and transparency, being true and clear but also bold in denouncing evil in a radical way, not only in civil society and the world, but also in the Church herself.

Their indications and provocations guide us in three specific directions. The first concerns the theme of fraternity: coming from contexts that have been heavily marked by competition and individualism, they are asking for a truly fraternal life, that revolves around shared bonds and affection. Then there is a request for spirituality, for a Church where prayer and intimacy with God are at the center. For this reason, some see the liturgy as a moment of prophecy. Lastly, the request for radicality is still strong, although it is not always supported by personal consistency: apart from a few contexts where the choice of consecrated life and the ordained ministry is related to the search for economic and social security, usually when young people opt for these life forms they consciously choose evangelical radicality, that requires a specific and gradual accompaniment towards the gift of self for God and for our brothers and sisters.

In Part II we are required to deepen some elements and dynamics to be able to adequately interpret the situations described in Part I. A faith that does not make us grow is a faith that needs to grow. A faith that does not raise questions is a faith that has to be questioned. A faith that does not rouse us is a faith that needs to be roused.

In order to understand the truth about youth, which is not just a contemporary condition, but a specific age in life that is part of our human condition as such, we must provide an anthropological and biblical outlook, since the Word of God gives us the elements to understand and interpret this decisive stage in our existence. Youth is an original and exciting stage in life, that Christ himself went through, sanctifying it with his presence.

For He came to save all through means of Himself - all, I say, who through Him are born again to God - infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. Lk Today, He still wants to offer His entire self so that each young person may have life abundantly cf. Jn Wis The imperative of joy dwells in youth in a rather natural way, relying on physical beauty that becomes attention for and attraction to the other.

The body in all its glow and fullness becomes the space of love, perceived as the very mystery of being human, bound for eternity because it is imbued with love.

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Mk The entire Song of Songs celebrates the love between two young people who look for and desire each other as a real symbol of the concrete love between God and His people, showing how the vocation to joy through love is universal and unstoppable. Many believe the Church needs to revitalize her call to contribute to the joy of young people in a free and disinterested way cf.

In Part I, the analysis of the situation showed how easy it is for young people today to lose the fortitude and courage that is typical of this stage in life, succumbing to fear and discouragement. The Church herself risks losing the enthusiam that comes from her own call to embrace the risk of faith, withdrawing into false worldly securities. These dynamisms need to be recovered. When they face life, especially in this day and age, young people experience existential contingency and fragmentation. The lack of security generates uncertainty, the proliferation of available options generates confusion, while the presence of hatred and violence fills new generations with fear, reducing the confidence they have in their own resources.

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How can a young person be a prophet of hope in a world where corruption and injustice hold sway? He felt the need to have God near him who, through His grace, would bring a reliable hope into his fragile existence. On the other hand, youth is the bearer of inexperience and, therefore of justified fear and structural uncertainty in the face of the great tasks life has in store for us.

Every young person yearns for company, support, closeness, proximity. Therefore, many young people are asking for a Church that is a mother and never forgets about them cf. Is Developing the ability to love remains the beauty and risk of youth, because love, when it is pursued and lived in a chaotic way, can become an unruly passion and a destructive drive that brings only sadness.

Evil and sin also dwell in the life of young people and their request to be welcomed and forgiven is a cry we must heed. This parable refers to a courageous father, who allows his children to experience the risk of freedom, without imposing constraints that mortify their choices. He is a father whose heart is so big he does not exclude anyone and he wants to reintegrate everyone in his household at the same time.

The Church is called to make sure that all the young people she encounters in her path can experience the same fatherly and motherly attitudes. In the DP, the characters of John and Mary effectively portrayed the readiness to listen and the wish to embark on a path of vocational discernment that is not completed in one single moment, but becomes an existential journey that is constantly accompanied by the presence of Jesus, the teacher, model and friend of every young person. Among the biblical calls directly addressed to young persons, we find the call to Samuel cf.

There, we can see very clearly that the time of youth is the time for listening, but also the time when people are unable to understand the word of life and the Word of God on their own. Therefore, they are supposed to shine mostly for their righteous conscience, which comes from their constant practice of choosing between good and evil. The accompaniment of younger generations is not an optional element in the task of educating and evangelizing young people, but an ecclesial duty and a right of every young person.

Only the cautious and wise presence of Eli allows Samuel to correctly interpret the word that God is addressing to him. In this respect, the dreams of the elders and the prophecies of young people only happen together cf. Jl , thus confirming the validity of intergenerational alliances. First and foremost, faith is a gift to be welcomed and its maturation a path to be followed.

This encounter generates a life-changing experience, directing it in the way of dialogue and responsibility. As they grow up, all young people realize that life is bigger than they are, and they do not control everything in their existence; they realize they are who they are thanks to the care they received from others, first of all their parents.

They become convinced that, in order to live their lives well, they must take responsibility for other people, replicating those attitudes of care and service that allowed them to grow. Above all, they are called to ask for the gift of discernment, which is not a skill that can be developed on our own, but is primarily a gift we must receive, that must be exercised prudently and wisely in order for it to grow.

And a youngster who has received the gift of discernment and knows how to make it bear fruit, is a blessing for other youngsters and for the entire people. Est , she gave up her privileges and bravely risked her life to save her people, proving how far youthful bravery and female dedication can go. During the period of youth, identity is forged.

At this time, marked by complexity, fragmentation and uncertainty about the future, forming a life plan is difficult, if not impossible. In this crisis situation, the contribution offered by the Church is often focused on supporting good life choices. In the most fortunate cases, and wherever young people are more receptive, this kind of pastoral care helps them discover their vocation which, at the end of the day, is a term that can be applied only to a few fortunate individuals and it marks the culmination of a project.

In this respect, it is helpful to recall the encounter between Jesus and the rich young man cf. Mt ; Mk ; Lk In this way, through a real loss of direction, Jesus asks the young man to reconfigure his entire life. It is a call to embrace risk, to lose what has already been acquired, to trust.

It is a provocation to break with the planning mindset which, if it becomes extreme, leads to narcissism and withdrawal. Caring about all young people, without exception, the Synod is asked to shed light in a convincing way on the vocational horizon of human existence as such. From the responses of various BC, and also from many comments made by the young themselves, we understand that the term vocation is generally used to indicate vocations to the ordained ministry and special consecration.

LG , locating individual vocations within this interpretative horizon: vocations to the ordained ministry and consecrated life, as well as lay vocations cf. LG 31 , especially in their spousal form cf. LG 35; GS When Scripture states that all things have been created through Christ and for Him cf. In this respect, only a vocational anthropology seems adequate to understand humans in all their truth and fullness. The fact that, during the PM, some young non-believers and members of other religions testified to their wish to discern their vocation in the world and in history was significant.

Talking about life as a vocation allows us to highlight some elements that are very important for the growth of a young person: it means ruling out the possibility that life is determined by fate or randomness, and also that it is a private good that can be managed on our own.

Matthew Y. Emerson

Vocational discernment along these lines becomes a journey of reconciliation with our body and self, with others and the world. Hence, we must promote a renewed vocational culture, that is still linked to the joy of the communion of love that generates life and hope.

Indeed, the fullness of joy can only be experienced when we discover we are loved and, consequently, when we are personally called to love others in turn, in the concrete circumstances in which we live family, work, social and civil engagement. Lk and open ourselves to horizons we cannot even fathom, if we rely only on our own strength.

However, in the New Testament, the call also refers to the invitation for specific people to follow him more closely. Jn l , presented in the DP, is the paradigm of this call. It cannot stand out clearly from the very beginning, as if it were the outcome of a project we are in charge of and for which we hold the key, for us to plan all the details. We cannot forget that every vocational path, being deeply rooted in the experience of divine filiation given to us in baptism, cf.

Rm ; , is a paschal journey, that implies our commitment to self-denial and to losing our life, in order to receive it back renewed. Therefore, even when believers realize that their discipleship requires renunciations and the suffering brought by faithfulness, they do not lose heart and they keep choosing the Lord, who went before us to the right hand of the Father and accompanies us with His Spirit.

From among those who follow him, Jesus chooses a few for a special ministry. This is seen very clearly in the vocation of the apostles: He appointed twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and have authority to drive out demons cf. Mk ; Lk , urging them to tend to his flock cf. Sometimes this vocation is accompanied by giving a new name to the one called.

Indeed, the very name ecclesia indicates the vocational character of the community of disciples, her identity as an assembly of summoned people cf. In truth, the different ecclesial vocations are the many multifaceted expressions through which the Church fulfils her call to be a real sign of the Gospel, received in a fraternal community. The various forms in which we can follow Christ express, each in its own way, the mission to bear witness to the Jesus event, in which every man and woman finds salvation. Saint Paul returns to this topic several times in his letters, recalling the image of the Church as a body that is made up of various members, and highlighting how each one is necessary and at the same time in relation to the whole, because only the harmonious unity of all the parts makes the body alive and harmonious.

The origin of this communion, according to the Apostle, is in the mystery of the Holy Trinity itself. Therefore, the different forms of Christian life cannot be conceived or understood autonomously, but only in the reciprocity they generate and in the exchange of gifts they accomplish cf. CL 55; VC This is the only way the Church can become an integral image of the face of Jesus in the history of mankind. The recent letter Iuvenescit Ecclesia , on the relationship between hierarchical and charismatic gifts for the life and mission of the Church, provided valuable indications to develop a correct theology of charisms, in order to gratefully welcome and wisely enhance the gifts of grace that the Spirit constantly elicits in the Church for her rejuvenation.

The two recent Synods on the family, and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, provided a rich insight into the vocation of the family in the Church and the irreplaceable contribution families are called to give to the testimony of the Gospel, through mutual love and the generation and education of children. Recovering the vocational implications of this message, and making it understandable to young people within the affective culture they belong to, is very important. Thinking about preparation for marriage and the accompaniment of young couples seem to be the two strategic points on which pastoral energies should be invested.

The Church has always realized that vocations to the ordained ministry are decisive for Christian life and for the salvation of all men and women. This is why she has devoted particular attention to the care, formation and accompaniment of candidates to this state of life. Rekindling the allure of evangelical radicality amongst young generations, so they can rediscover the prophetic value of chastity, poverty and obedience as a harbinger of the Kingdom and the complete fulfilment of their lives, is something that cannot be neglected at a time dominated by consumeristic and commercialistic mindsets.

Called to holiness and anointed by the Spirit, Christians learn to look at all life choices through vocational eyes, especially the choice that is central to their state of life, but also the ones that pertain to their professional life. Lastly, some BC wonder what vocational status those people have who choose to remain single without any reference to a particular consecration or marriage. Considering that their number is rising in the Church and in the world, it is important for the Synod to think about this issue. However, I am undecided, lost and worried. Quite often, young people shift between extreme and equally naive approaches: from feeling they are at the mercy of an unavoidable and pre-determined fate, to feeling overwhelmed by an abstract ideal of excellence, in a context of unbridled and violent competition.

However, young people will rise to the challenge. Actually, the term discernment can mean many different things, that are not in conflict with each other but are also not the same. Moral discernment, instead, distinguishes what is good from what is bad. Still another form, spiritual discernment, aims to recognize temptation so as to reject it and proceed on the path to fullness of life.

Several different levels come into play also in the specifics of vocational discernment. This is why this word is included in the title of the Synod, right? It is a gift that, when it is discovered, fills us with joy cf. Mt Be sure: God trusts in you; He loves you and he calls to you. Hence, the outlook is much broader and more fundamental than the reductive view whereby, as the responses from many BC show, church leaders and many of the faithful tend to identify vocational discernment with the path to choose your state in life marriage, priesthood, consecrated life.

Vocational discernment could also refer to the choice of social and political engagement, or a profession. Above all, vocational discernment is not over, once a decision between different alternatives is made, but it extends over time, accompanying the concrete steps we make to implement that decision. It is a means of spiritual combat for helping us to follow the Lord more faithfully. Discernment is a gift and a risk, and this can be frightening.

They play a fundamental role and should not be hidden or dampened. A journey of vocational discernment requires great attention to things that emerge in the different experiences each person goes through family, study, work, friendship, romantic relationships, volunteer work and other engagements, etc. However, this is not enough because life experiences are ambiguous and can be interpreted in different ways: what is the origin of this desire? On the basis of these interpetations, choices can be made that are not merely the result of drives or social pressures, but an exercise of freedom and responsibility.

Being an act of human freedom, discernment is exposed to the risk of error. Hence it is indispensable for discerning persons to continue forming their affectivity, intelligence and style. Therefore, a true journey of discernment requires a listening and praying attitude, meekness towards our teacher and the willingness to make tough decisions. There is a need for a better introduction to these areas. Conscience plays a central role in discernment. Setting out from this faith perspective, it seems clear how the exercise of our conscience is a universal anthropological value: it challenges every man and woman, not just believers, and all must respond to it.

All persons, thanks to their experience of being loved as unique beings within the network of social relations that underpins their lives, discover and receive the call to love, and this challenges their conscience as an imperative that establishes itself as a norm. He is the true norm of every Christian action and particular vocation. But this reality - which, most of all, is a gift and an otherness that flows through us — with the constraints it brings, is the means through which we can find confirmation of what we have realized in our heart of hearts: the principle whereby reality ranks higher than ideas also applies to discernment.

In theological terms, every wish, even the most sublime, is called to become embodied in a concrete and consistent choice, that is necessarily limited, opening the door to ascesis, without which there is no path to holiness and to the fullness of life. This is what young people are going through in many countries, either due to a lack of real opportunities to make good use of their skills, or the long time it takes for them to become established in their career. This generates the drive to engage in a deeper search for authenticity and vocation.

One of the problems of our time is that circumstances often lead to a postponement of this phase, placing it at a time when people have already made binding decisions, for example from the affective standpoint, or have defined their lifestyle and made commitments — including financial ones — from which it is not easy to backtrack. The entire tradition of spirituality insists on the fundamental importance of accompaniment, particularly in the vocational discernment process.

Many BC also underscored how young people are asking church leaders to be willing to provide this service, and highlight how often the latter have a hard time ensuring this. Vocational accompaniment is a process that is able to unleash freedom, as well as the capacity to give and to integrate the various dimensions of life within a horizon of meaning. For this reason, a true accompaniment will strive to present vocation not as a pre-determined fate, a task to be carried out, a ready-made script, to be accepted by discovering how to implement it effectively. God takes seriously the freedom He has given to human beings, and responding to his call is a commitment that requires work, imagination, audacity and willingness to make progress also by trial and error.

Those who accompany the young might be men and women, religious and lay persons, couples; the community also plays a decisive role. Therefore, the accompaniment of young people by the Church takes on many different direct and indirect forms, weaves together a multiplicity of dimensions and makes use of manifold instruments, depending on the context where it takes place and the degree of ecclesial and faith involvement of those who are being accompanied. Several BC see personal spiritual accompaniment as the preferred, if not the only, place for vocational discernment. It is an opportunity to learn to recognize, interpret and choose in a faith perspective, listening to what the Spirit suggests in our everyday lives cf.

EG In the personal relationship of accompaniment, it is important to realize the difference between masculine and feminine approaches, both for mentors and for those who are accompanied. In this respect, the richness of the tradition that speaks about spiritual fatherhood and motherhood needs to be deepened and preserved.

Spiritual accompaniment has specific traits that differentiate it from other forms of personal accompaniment such as counseling, coaching, mentoring, tutoring, etc. However, there are also relations and connections between them. To avoid losing sight of the unity of the person and the integral character of the accompaniment relationship, we need to explore the complementarity between spiritual accompaniment in the strict sense and other forms of closeness which, in our daily lives, might involve individuals who can help young people discern and contribute to the formation of their conscience and their freedom.

In particular, it is good to point out what differentiates spiritual accompaniment from psychological accompaniment or psychotherapy which, if it is open to transcendence, can prove to be fundamental for a path of integration and growth. The charism of spiritual accompaniment is not necessarily tied to the ordained ministry.

In our ancient tradition, spiritual fathers and mothers were lay people, often monks, but not clerics. The practice whereby accompaniment is now among the roles assigned to priests risks confining it within a dialogue that often overlaps with the celebration of the sacrament of penance. Despite their closeness, ministers of reconciliation and spiritual mentors have different purposes, methods and languages. We should also recognize that, in the relationship between accompaniment and sacrament, the various spiritual traditions have developed different sensitivities.

The contexts in which ordinary life unfolds provide many opportunities for a closeness that can accompany our journey of growth, in a specifically spiritual or more broadly human sense. There are instances when this kind of accompaniment falls within the institutional tasks of those who provide it, and others in which it is based on the willingness, capacity and commitment of the individuals who are involved.

Several BC mention the indispensable role families play in vocational discernment, especially when parents are inspiring role models of faith and dedication: parents are always the first witnesses, and even more so in places where there is a shortage of ordained ministers. However, the opposite can also happen, when families overemphasize the importance of economic or professional success, and this ultimately hinders the possibility for a rigorous journey of vocational discernment. Accompaniment, also under different names, is at the center of attention of many education systems, both at school and university level.

Before being a task that is assigned to specific individuals, it is a basic pedagogical attitude and a mindset that pervade the entire educational community. Tutoring within vocational training, to help young people start their career, is also valuable. Lastly, there are several contexts, roles and professions in which adults who get in contact with young people, perhaps due to specific issues, can provide an accompaniment that favors their human maturity or the solution of problem situations: we could think about the role of sports coaches, people who have education responsibilities or work in specific kinds of institutions prisons, shelters of various kinds, counseling offices or clinics or professions physicians, psychologists, educators, etc.

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