“To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.” -CCC 2097

This is where the rubber meets the road. All that we do in youth ministry revolves around the fact that we want to bring young people into a relationship with our Lord. We teach, we play, we gather, we build community, we serve…but in the end we need to point young people to Christ. We need to be John the Baptist to these young people…always pointing them to the Lord.

The only way that any of us can grow closer to the Lord is by spending time with Him in prayer and worship. We need to model and teach this to young people in everything that we do. We need to pray “always” and “all ways”.

Unfortunately, the polarization of the Catholic Church is most evident in the way that we pray and worship. It is no secret that the Arlington Diocese is on the more traditional end of the ecclesiology spectrum of the Catholic Church. When I travel outside of the diocese to Catholic youth ministry gatherings or meetings, I often feel lost or like a “fish out of water” when it is time to pray together or to be at Mass. I find myself more frustrated with our differences than comfortable in the fact that we are gathering in prayer. I pray that the Church will become more unified in the way that we worship our Lord.

With that said, I believe it is very important that we do not make our own style of prayer normative to all of the young people in the parish. You may have a deep Marian devotion, or a great love for Praising and Worshiping the Lord through music. However, you should present a balanced spectrum to the young people. Provide young people with an experience of all approved forms of Catholic prayer…Eucharistic Adoration one week, Liturgy of the Hours the next week, prayer partners the following week. This will allow the young people to decide what brings them closer to the Lord, and they will not feel completely lost when they head off to college, or move to a new diocese.