How well do our young boys and girls comprehend the true meaning of love and respect, especially in this age of social media and peer pressure? Exposure to the internet has become a young person’s perception of their own human sexuality, yet it most often offers a false message. To replace this, our youth need to know the purpose of their creation which then leads to understanding their own human sexuality, bringing light to the meaning of love, authentic friendships, and chastity. There are many resources to help both parents and youth.
Among these resources, the Diocese of San José Youth Ministry’s mission is to serve and develop advocates of youth and young adults for the evangelization of the young Church. Through conferences, retreats, and outings, they strive to be “a community in Christ Jesus that loves boldly, lives fearlessly and makes Christ known.” Many parishes also sponsor youth groups who meet regularly to build up this community.
Professional speakers, such as Brian Butler from Dumb Ox Ministries, travel the country talking to youth and their parents. Butler explains, “When I was in high school, I had good people giving me catechesis but I didn’t have anybody that was walking with me in a messy kind of way, to really walk together and ask the tough questions and talk through all that. So I wasn’t really discerning and rightly understanding my own sexuality as a man and able to grow in that.” At his events, Butler addresses topics ranging from authentic friendships, social media, sexuality, and dating.
The Culture Project (www.thecultureproject.org) is a nonprofit initiative of young missionaries who set out to restore culture through the experience of virtue. These missionaries are recent college graduates formed in Catholic social teaching and committed to a vibrant lived faith. They give dynamic presentations on the virtue of chastity, the importance of marriage and family, and the dignity of every human life. Additionally, their social media accounts (Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram) offer ongoing formation, encouragement, and thought-provoking questions for young people.
In the Diocese of San José, this year’s 5th Annual RISE! conference for parents, young adults, and over 600 teens continues to focus on bringing youth an honest understanding of their own sexuality and a sense of pure love. Professional speakers will address topics including love, sex and relationships, happiness, authentic femininity and masculinity, faith in athletics, and one hot topic of interest to all: smart phones and social media, and how to navigate this new social landscape that no generation has ever before journeyed. RISE! 2019 is free with registration and hosted by Our Lady of Peace Church. For information, visit www.riseba.org.
These resources, among others, offer excellent support for young people (and their parents who guide them) to establish healthy relationships and futures. “[Jesus] stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives,” Saint John Paul II reminds us. “The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with Him in the building of the civilization of love.”