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What to do with the kids

I make no bones about my brotherly affection and deep respect for Mike Aquilina – as such it shouldn’t surprise that I found his article on, if you will, ancient youth ministry so crisp and accurate.  Two snips really caught my attention:

They promised young people great things, like persecution, lower social status, public ridicule, severely limited employment opportunities, frequent fasting, a high risk of jail and torture, and maybe, just maybe, an early, violent death at the hands of their pagan rulers.


What made the Church attractive in the third century can make it just as attractive in the twenty-first. In the ancient world and in ours, young people want a challenge. They want to love with their whole being. They’re willing to do things the hard way — if people they respect make the big demands. These are distinguishing marks of youth. You don’t find too many middle-aged men petitioning the Marines for a long stay at Parris Island. It’s young men who beg for that kind of rigor.

Whether this concept of challenging youth instead of coddling them will ever catch on again within the Church, at least within my lifetime, certainly seems debatable and even doubtful in some corners.  As different as today’s youth are from those of ancient times they’re still youth, and their thirst and desire for a challenge has never abated.  Look a young man or woman square in the eye and tell them they too could move the world and they will follow you to the ends of the earth, no matter the cost – and in Christianity that cost starts with a death, death to self, death to the ways of this world, but that death opens unto new and everlasting life in Christ.  If it worked in the ancient Church, who knows, just maybe it can work here as well.

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