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This blog is simply meant to bring God the glory; no more and no less. I'd love to hear from you! Comments, questions, conversation. rebecca.labriola@gmail.com

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Eucharist and Youth Ministry

The Eucharist.  The Catholic Church says that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC 1324) The source being “the beginning” and the summit being “the acme: the highest level attainable.” (Webster Dictionary)  It’s pretty significant that the Eucharist is both the starting point and the highest point of Christian life.  The power of the Eucharist is outstanding.  The Catholic Church points out that “our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” (CCC 1327) 

The Eucharist is the starting point of the Catholic faith.  The Eucharist should be the CENTER, the CORE, and the HEART of every Catholic.  Christ, the Eucharist, should be the center of our lives individually. The Eucharist should be the center of our lives as a Church. 

I believe that if you do not have Christ as the center of each ministry in the church, the ministry will not succeed or flourish to the best of its ability.  The Eucharist is supposed to be the most significant and vital part of the life of a Catholic, so why not make it the most vital part of all the ministries in the church?

There is hope in the Catholic Church right now.
However, I think there could be a lot more hope. 

I think there could be more strength, confidence, excitement, and drive in the Church. 
I think more people need to be on fire for Christ. 
Shouldn’t everyone feel like they are on a “Jesus high”? 

What better way to revitalize the Catholic Church than placing more emphasis on the Eucharist. 
After all, the Eucharist is the beginning of our faith and the highest point of our faith.
The HIGHEST point. 
Wouldn’t the highest point of one’s life be filled with strength, confidence, joy, excitement, and drive? Aha! Do you see where this is going?

If we as Catholics do a better job of placing emphasis on the Eucharist, if we do a better job of making the Eucharist the CENTER of our lives the church would thrive and lives would be changed.

The life of the Church is in the power of the Eucharist.

Over the past year and a half or so God has really placed on my heart a love, a deep love, for church ministry, specifically youth ministry.  All my friends know that, God willing, I want to become a youth minister. This brings up a story.  A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who is involved in youth ministry, asked me, “You want to be a youth minister.  What kind of youth minister do you want to be? How do you want to run your youth group?”  His question really surprised me, for a couple reasons.  The first reason being that even though my friend is involved in youth ministry, he is a very go with the flow person, as long as the teens are happy and learning about Jesus, the specifics of youth ministry do not matter to him and the second reason was that I do very much like the details and specifics of how a youth group is run and even I had not even asked myself the questions he asked me.  Jesus used one of the most unlikely people to ask me the most obvious of questions.  It’s funny how He works.  So, I proceeded to answer his question.  Even though I had given this question no thought, I was able to come up with an answer, almost instantly.  And my answer? None other than the EUCHARIST. 

I came to the conclusion, within a matter of seconds, that for a youth group to strive and be successful, it must be centered on the Eucharist.  The Eucharist MUST be the core.

I had a significant a conversation with someone from church several years ago.  I must have been 11 or 12 and she was in high school.  She was telling me about how the number of teens who attended youth group used to be so huge but more recently, numbers started to dramatically decline.  I do not remember the exact numbers but I do remember being shocked that practically no one was going to youth group anymore.  I asked her why.  Why did people stop coming?  She said people were busy with school but she also gave another reason.  She said there was no spiritual substance. There was nothing substantial about offering teens food to bribe them to come to youth group.  She went on to say that even if the teens did not know it, they were looking for something more than food, a short talk, and small group.  She explained that the teens had a lot of issues going on in their lives.  They needed substance and stability.  Jesus was the only person who was able to help them with their issues and problems.  Even if the teens did not fully understand the Eucharist, they surely understood there was power and strength in the Eucharist. 

For the longest time I was not sure why I remembered this conversation basically word for word.  I now know why.  The reason I remembered this conversion was because this conversation contained the solid TRUTH about youth ministry as a whole.

This is the truth- youth ministers, as a whole, need to place more emphasis on the Eucharist.  If more youth ministers made an effort to make the Eucharist the center of their youth groups I think it would bring about many benefits and blessings.  I think the numbers of teens attending youth activities would rise, teens would be more confident in their faith, they would be bold enough to stand up for their faith, and I truly believe that more of an emphasis on the Eucharist would diminish the use of drugs, the amount of alcohol, and teen pregnancies.  I truly believe, and research has proven, that teens turn to alcohol, drugs, and sex due to either a lack of love or a perceived lack of love from their families.  The only being that can fill teens’ hearts with the love that they so desire and crave is Christ.        

Make the Eucharist the CENTER of youth ministry. 

Jesus has HUGE plans for the youth. 
The youth WILL rise up. 
They ARE going to be the face of the Church one day.
This is sure as heck not going to happen by offering them tacos. 
The youth WILL change the world, be the face of Christ, be the light of the world, be the salt of the earth, be the city on the hill THROUGH THE POWER OF THE EUCHARIST. (Matthew 5:13-14)     

It is said that obedience brought Jesus to the cross; LOVE is what kept Him there.
GOD IS LOVE. (1 John 4:8)
Love is what is going to keep teens coming to church and youth group.

A successful youth group MUST be centered about the Eucharist. 

You’re the center of the universe
Everything was made in You, Jesus
Breath of every living thing
Everyone was made for You

You hold everything together
You hold everything together

Christ be the center of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the center of our lives

We lift our eyes to heaven
We wrap our lives around your life
We lift our eyes to heaven, to You
Charlie Hall