Scripture and Catechism:
Preparation: For many of our nights we make sure to play a large group, high energy game at the beginning of the night. Tonight we played a game called Mission Possible. The youth were separated into two teams and placed on opposite sides of the gym. Random items from the game closet were scattered on the floor between the two teams. The object of the game is to get your whole team to the other end of the gym without touching the floor using only the items placed on the floor. This is usually a big hit for our kids and was tonight as well. The EDGE (7th and 8th Grade) had a hard time finishing on time so I paused the game then told the teams they could touch the floor, which resulted in a mad dash to either end of the gym.
After the game a mentor read the Gospel this coming Sunday. We make sure we have the text of the Gospel on the projection screen so the youth can follow along as it is read. We also remind the youth to stand for the Gospel.
After prayer our high school mentors performed a short skit I wrote called “The Waiting Room.” It highlighted the wait for Christ. Some people get impatient and leave, some are deceived and follow someone other than Christ, and some are disappointed because they expected something else. But if we persevere to the end we will be rewarded. This skit is based off of the experience of the Israelite people waiting for the coming Messiah.
Christ is just as present in the Scriptures as in the Eucharist. When we encounter Him we are set on fire, never to be the same.
Explanation: I started the message by asking why we stand for the Gospel? I quoted Dei Verbum, 21 where the Church says she “has always venerated the Divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table of God’s word and of Christ’s body.” When we read Scripture, especially the Gospels, we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, just as if we were to sit in adoration. We see in scripture countless examples of people encountering Christ and having their lives changed. When we encounter Christ, whether it be in the Sacraments or in the Scriptures we are changed. I used the analogy of fire to illustrate how we are changed. When a paper is lit on fire it burns and casts a light on the whole room, it catches other paper on fire if close enough, and it becomes ash, which can never be paper again. In the same way we must be caught on fire by Christ in order to shed light on our world, catch others on fire, and never go back to the way we were.
I ended with the challenge of St. Jose Maria Escriva, “Don’t let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart.” – The Way, #1
Application: We split the youth into small groups and had our high school mentors lead them in discussion.
Celebration: We ended the night by bringing all the youth back to our main meeting room and I closed us in prayer thanking God for his presence to us in the Gospels and asking Him to help us catch our friends on fire (spiritually, not physically).
Moment of Growth (I am a firm believer in the moments that we mess up are for learning not beating ourselves up so instead of naming this title ‘Ways I fail in life and youth ministry’ I instead named it ‘Moments of Growth’): This week our Lifeteen curriculum gave us a night on the Gospels. They focused on how throughout the Old Testament the Israelites were waiting for their savior and he finally came in the Gospels as the person of Jesus Christ. In my talk I focused on how this appearance and encounter is life changing. However, I did not modify the rest of the night accordingly. The small group questions focused on waiting and how Christ is the culmination of our hopes. I should have done a better job making sure every aspect of the night was uniform; focusing on the same subject, instead the message came across as dislocated between skit, talk, and small groups.
Favorite Moment: We played a random video I found on Youtube to fill the time while the youth were getting water after the game and finding their seats. Playing the video, even if it has nothing to do with the theme of the night, adds an element of fun and encourages the youth to find their seats so they can watch the video. Once it is done we move into prayer and the talk.
I also really enjoyed how smoothly the fire illustration went. I had a piece of newspaper in a metal bowl so that when I lit it I could drop it in the bowl where it was safe to burn without catching anything else on fire. (For Crossfire I used a piece of printer paper balled up. It did not burn well so for EDGE I used newspaper which burnt much better.)