By Bishop John Abdalah
Metropolitan Philip has designated October Youth Month in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. Each October we highlight the contributions, activities, and needs of our youth. This year I would like to highlight their needs.
Our youth need Jesus Christ. The need: a real relationship with Christ that will sustain them when their faith is challenged by peers, academics, change, loss and fear. Our youth need pious and holy adults willing to share honestly. Our youth need mentors who will share boldly and unashamedly the Orthodox faith delivered to us from the Apostles and preserved in the Church without alteration or adulteration. Orthodox adults, our youth need you.
Our youth need liturgy. Liturgy is the cooperative work of God and His people. It is here that we join the angelic world at God’s throne to praise Him and interact with His Word, and to be fed in the Eucharist. Liturgy by its very nature can only happen as we gather as the Church. This Church prayer does not happen at the hockey rink or golf course. It doesn’t happen watching sit-coms on television or mowing the lawn. It only happens when we gather as the Church to be the Church. It only happens around the Eucharist and around the bishop or his designee. It is essential to knowing God in the biblical sense of sharing God’s Oneness and living in Him. We who are made one with God in baptism are nurtured by God through His Church in Sunday and festal worship.
by Fr. Joseph Shaheen
from The Word Magazine, January 1980
“As I behold the sea of life surging high with the tempest of temptations, I set my course toward Thy tranquil haven and cry aloud to Thee: lead thou my life forth from corruption, O Most Merciful One.” (Heirmos — Ode 6)
These words from the Canon of the Dead, in the Orthodox Funeral Service, describe very well the exceptional dilemma faced by the youth of today.
Ah, for the peaceful, pastoral, uncluttered, unrushed, unsophisticated, uncomplicated days of the past. The day when father and son walked together at the plow and prayed their labor would produce a bountiful crop, when mother and daughter sat and ground the grain to make the bread needed to sustain life. All the labours of man that were performed, were to the fulfillment of God’s command “be fruitful and multiply.”
It was simple, no hang-ups, no frustrations . . . work just to survive. No Vogue, no Glamour, no Better Homes and Gardens, no Redbook, no Cosmopolitan. Just survival. There was no concern with what shall we wear? What shall we eat? The concern was, shall we eat? Mankind was
concerned with just existing. Everyone had a role, a responsibility, like the meshed wheel. All the links were necessary or the wheel would not function.
Somewhere along the way, from that day until now, many changes have taken place. Who thinks about the labour required to provide a loaf of bread? Who concerns himself with the needs of others? How many people have been so rudely awakened as of late when it was discovered that maybe our big beautiful cars could be the dinosaurs of a future generation?
Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chairman of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministries for the Antiochian Archdiocese, is alerting high school students to the launching of a new scholarship program sponsored by The Reagan Foundation. The Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Debate Series, which will award $35,000 in scholarship funds to outstanding high school debate students across the nation, will begin in June. The Series is designed to provide an avenue for high school students across the country to develop their civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions as they research, discuss, and engage in public debate. This program is designed to align with and leverage the energy of Election 2012.
The competition will consist of three distinct rounds. First, local debates will take place on high school campuses nationwide between June and September of 2012. School champions will advance to regional championships held in September and October of 2012. Regional championships will be held at university campuses from east to west. Those champions will then be flown to the National Championship at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on October 27, 2012 and compete for $35,000 in scholarship awards.
For more information, visit the Antiochian Archdiocese's Scholarship page.
By V. Rev. Fr. David J. Randolph
From the Word magazine, January, 2012
The term postmodern culture is used in many different ways, and cannot be grasped except in contrast to its predecessor, modernism, to which it is in reaction. Modernism displayed a high level of confidence in the abilities of humanity. Rooted in the Enlightenment, modernists attempted to rid themselves of the mystery of religion and things spiritual so as to focus purely on the empirical facts of science. Some believed that humanity could build a perfect society founded on human principles and structures. The movement was idealistic, and its breakdown was painful to the generation that experienced it.
This reaction took different forms. For many people of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, pop culture became a kind of rebellious religiosity. Many were from broken families, and they concluded that all commitments are fragile. Some also experimented with different “spiritualities,” having a distinct distaste for “institutional religion.” Theirs was a time of political turmoil, growing up amid the anxiety of the cold war, and through the period of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the war in Iraq. The results for many were confusion, depression, and loneliness.
Postmodernism is the cultural reaction to the perceived failures of modernism. Youth ministers today face five challenges related to the postmodern stance.
First, postmodern young people give primacy to personal experience.
The January 2012 Orthodox Christian Youth Worker Conference, a historic gathering endorsed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, will be hosted this year by the Departments of Youth Ministry and Camping of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. It is open to all Parish Youth Workers (Youth Directors/SOYO Advisors), Camp Directors and Staff, and OCF Chaplains of all Orthodox Jurisdictions and will convene from Wednesday, January 25, to Saturday, January 28, 2012, at the Antiochian Village Conference Center.
Fr. Joseph Purpura of the Department of Youth Ministry and a Facilitator of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America Committee for Youth, urges all Parish Council and Youth Workers to make every possible effort to attend. "I personally ask that you seek your Parish's help in sending your Parish Youth Director/SOYO Advisor to this Historic Conference," notes Fr. Joseph. "Space is limited - so register early."