Thursday, October 14, 2010

An young historian's take on Jesus Youth

Recently Manoj Sunny began his letter with the question, "What is the difference between JY and other movements?" Interestingly, this is the exact theme I planned to write on. Hopefully I will take it an interesting new direction. It's important for us to realize that Jesus Youth is not simply "another charismatic movement" but, as are all true Church movements, it is a movement with a very specific spirituality, given to us by the Holy Spirit at the time of its founding. As the Jubilee Conference draws near, an excellent way to prepare is to get in touch with this very spirituality.

The core of the Jesus Youth spirituality, is, of course, the six pillars. Prayer, Word of God, Sacramental Life. These three deal with the personal spirituality of Jesus Youth, the interior life, the action in contemplation. One of the defining traits of Jesus Youth is their personal responsibility for their spirituality. Prayer, Bible reading, Mass, Confession, are not something utilized if conveniently available, but rather are actively pursued.

Fellowship, Evangelization, Option for the Poor. These are how we express that personal spirituality; they are the exterior life, the contemplation in action. These external actions will only be as effective as our own personal spirituality. It can be argued that these pillars all build on each other: Prayer fuels Word of God, which helps us appreciate the Sacraments; these three are necessary for Fellowship, which helps in our Evangelization, which draws a variety of people to us so we can create a better Option for the Poor.

Besides these six pillars, there are several other very specific charisms of the movement. Within the movement, our spirituality is expressed through community life, with guidance from elders, pastors, and other youth. This community life often takes place in and around JY families. This life always has the focus of a pathway to holiness, answering the universal call to holiness proclaimed by Vatican II, genuinely seeking to form saints. But perhaps more than anything else, Jesus Youth has been blessed with absolute fidelity to the teachings and Majesterium of the Catholic Church. This is our anchor; this is what keeps us from going astray, as others before us unfortunately have.

Perhaps this fidelity to the Church is what the movement was blessed with first, as Jesus Youth is a remarkable reflection of the entire universal Church. The six pillars are literally a perfect balance of interior and external spirituality. We could dare to say that the six pillars sum up all Jesus recommended to us and commanded us to do, yet without necessarily emphasizing any one aspect over the other. We also find in our expression of this spirituality similarities to the apostolic church recorded in Acts: reliance on the Holy Spirit, missionary trips, following up these trips through various means of communication, and of course, a lay community life filled with prayer, trust, and teaching. Finally, there is a constant link to the Majesterium and especially Vatican II; indeed, I have already quoted from VII documents twice in this letter.

It is this very universality of Jesus Youth that draws people in across all cultures, states of life, and rites of the church. Jesus Youth has spread as far and wide as it has, reaching the hearts of so many people, laity, priests, and religious alike, because perfectly responds to the call of the Church, doing so with our own distinctive charisms: joy; a focus on fellowship/communion and relationships; and total willingness to sacrifice for the cause.

Even right now, we can see the intimate link between Jesus Youth and the heart of the Church. Seeming to almost prefigure our Jubilee Conference, a special meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the Church in the Middle East is being held right now from October 10-24. The theme of the Synod? "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32), a verse which has always reminded me immediately of Jesus Youth. In his inaugural homily for the Synod, Pope Benedict XVI said:

"Without communion there can be no witness: the life of communion is truly the great witness. Jesus said it clearly: “It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples” (Jn 13:35). This communion is the same life of God which is communicated in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ. It is thus a gift, not something which we ourselves must build through our own efforts. And it is precisely because of this that it calls upon our freedom and waits for our response: communion always requires conversion, just as a gift is better if it is welcomed and utilized."

Do we not see a clear reflection of the Jesus Youth lifestyle in the Pope's words? And this is something being addressed to the entire Synod of Bishops!

So please allow yourself to experience the Jubilee grace this year; please do not allow any worldly anxieties, difficulties, or sorrows get in your way. This is the best opportunity you'll have for 25 years to truly experience the universality of Jesus Youth: as if the prospects of meeting Jesus Youth from 25 countries and counting wasn't exciting enough, Cardinal Ryklo (attending the Synod of Bishops as we speak!) and many other archibishops, bishops, priests, and religious are also attending. Please come to the Jubilee and truly experience the universal grace of Jesus Youth.

See you at Rajagiri!

God Bless!
From Bangalore,
Richie Dow, JYA (NJ)
Birthday Boy

About Richie - He is an young dynamic Jesus Youth from New Jersey(USA). Currently in India to help Jubilee mobilization and volunteer for Jubilee Conference. He is currently pursuing his bachelors in Chinese History.

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