Teaching piety to today’s youth
This may indeed sound like a pipe dream or an illusion, given the way many young people nowadays are, but this simply has to be done. We know that without piety, we would be like branches detached from the vine. Death, spiritual more than physical, would just be a matter of time. So, no matter how impossible things may look, we just have to do whatever we can to teach piety to today’s youth.
We doubtless cannot underestimate the complexity of the challenge. Today’s youth, at least a good number of them, are dominated by all sorts of isms and anomalies—materialism, technologism, agnosticism, atheism, plus pornography, drugs, alcoholism, etc. These are some of the demons we have to contend with. They certainly are formidable, but let’s remind ourselves that with God’s grace, nothing is impossible, and if we do things with trust and love for God, everything, including our mistakes, will work out for the good. (cfr. Rom 8,28)
We just have to make sure that we, as elders, lead a genuine life of piety. That’s simply because we cannot give what we do not have, nor teach what we do not know, nor show what we do not live ourselves. Let’s hope that with our presence alone, many of today’s youth can feel edified and get inspired and encouraged to be pious themselves. If we really are pious, having a vibrant and intimate relationship with God, we cannot help but also feel the urge to help the others, especially the young ones, to know, love and serve God as well as to do the same to the others. This urge is one clear proof that we have genuine piety. Otherwise, we have reason to doubt about our piety.
Among the concerns that we have to tackle is the effort to adapt things to the way the young ones are nowadays. We have to accept and deal with them the way they are, much like what Christ did to bring us to him.
We have to learn how to speak their language to be able to connect with them, and to present the doctrine of our faith and the practices of piety in the way they can understand, appreciate and make as their own. We should not ignore the very conspicuous fact that many of the young people today find the doctrine of our faith quite abstruse, way above their head. They seem unable to connect and relate. Or their understanding of it is shallow and with a lot of gaps.
The same with the many practices of piety which they often find to be anachronistic to their current lifestyle. Many young people today have the bias that these practices of piety are only for some ‘special’ people. To grapple with this challenge, I believe that the older generations have to take the initiative to adjust to the young ones. We actually have more capacity to adapt to the younger ones, rather than vice-versa.
Let’s hope and pray that we the elders can have the versatility and creativity that genuine piety can actually give. We need to loosen up for this very exciting ‘game’ of teaching piety to the youth. Let’s take advantage of the new technologies and growing amount of literature that can help us adapt ourselves to the young ones.
We may have to organize games, camps, excursions. But give special attention to winning their friendship and confidence and entering into their private individual lives in order to help them. Let’s be encouraging always, quick to give them hope and understanding especially when they start opening up and showing their struggles, faults and falls.
As true friends, we should give and share with them the greatest good we can have, and that is to bring them to God and to make them see and feel all the goodness and love of God.