Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Last Friday night I attended an annual archdiocesan event for youth and young adults called Freedom! It’s an event that centers on the sacrament of reconciliation.

Over six hundred people showed up along with thirty-six priests to hear confessions. It was encouraging to see that many young people who were even willing to enter a church on a Friday night. On a whole, I think the event was a positive experience. There was time for adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction, singing of praise and worship, guided scriptural meditation on the sacrament of reconciliation, a thorough examination of conscience, and a testimony on the sacrament of reconciliation. It was especially encouraging to see that most people wanted to participate in the sacrament of reconciliation when the opportunity was made available to them. If nothing else, the fact that most people went to confession probably made it worth it.

Now, I don’t want to be overly critical, because I know how much effort was put into organizing such a large event, and the intent was good, but in retrospect, I don’t know if it was ideal. My first concern was that some of the youth seemed to lack even the most basic respect for the Blessed Sacrament, especially during exposition. The kids in front of me were talking with each other and sending text messages on their cell phones etc… I felt like poking grabbing them and pointing to the Blessed Sacrament but I resisted the urge. Maybe I should have. I found their behavior particularly disturbing considering the priest had indicated that everyone had to go on their knees for Benediction. They kneeled…for about thirty seconds…and then started playing with their cell phones. Maybe I should not forget that the majority of people were on their knees and were adoring Christ. I felt though that their behavior was very distracting and it made it hard for me to focus. Maybe this is selfish on my part. Maybe I should just be grateful that they even showed up considering I overheard one of the guys comment “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here, I haven’t been to Church in eight years!” I later saw the same guy line up for confession.

My other concern came at the end of the evening. Benediction was followed by an examination of conscience, and then people lined up for confessions and spent time in prayer. After everyone’s confessions had been heard they sang praise and worship music. It was a very “emotional” kind of experience, and while I don’t have a problem with praise and worship music, and in fact think it can be a blessing, I think it was a little over the edge. That being said, the youth like and if it makes them look deeper into their spiritual life it’s beneficial. I fear it’s very superficial for most though. What really got on my nerves though was at the very end they invited anyone who wanted to come up to the front for the closing songs. They first sang a song called “Yes Lord.” This song has actions that go along with it: thumbs up for “yes” and pointing to heaven for “Lord.” All fine and dandy, but what got on my nerves was that everyone was facing the screen which was at an angle on the side of the Church, seeing this song about saying “yes Lord” (along with the actions) and pointing to the screen. They essentially had their backs to the Tabernacle and were proclaiming “Yes Lord!” to a projector screen. There’s something wrong with this. Something very wrong. Then the very last song of the evening was called “the Happy Song.” Things got out of control. Kids were jumping up and down and essentially started a mosh pit in the sanctuary. They were literally jumping up and down inside the sanctuary and banging into the altar! That was the last straw I think. The youth ministry staff realized this was out of hand too and tried to calm the kids down, but it was too late by then. I could see some of the priests standing in the back, near where I was, cringing.

Anyways, like I said, I don’t want to belittle the fact that this event brought many youth, who may have not otherwise gone, to confession. That in of itself is a blessing. I just hope that they can see beyond the emotion and recognize the real impact of a sacramental life as well as know where to find Christ – in the Eucharist.

The person who gave his “testimony” about the sacrament of reconciliation pointed out that it’s not so much about the ‘feeling’ one gets after going to confession as daily making the choice to love God. I hope that everyone was listening.

Apparently this event, started in our archdiocese, has since been picked up by other dioceses across Canada and the US including Toronto and LA.