by. Kieran Chew
The average number of people per household in Australia is now 1.4. We are becoming more separated, more isolated, more self-sufficient and more self-orientated. Social media however, portrays us as being more connected to others as ever before. But is this truly what we experience? In a recent TED talk entitled “I share therefore I am” Sherry Turkle suggests that our generation is now expressing themselves somewhat artificially, we are the most connected we have ever been yet the most isolated. We have more online friends yet less close meaningful relationships, we Like but do we love? Stephen Furtick from Elevation church describes social media as akin to seeing the highlight reel of a game but not the real thing. We have become good at our own PR and thus hiding our imperfections, our vulnerabilities. Is this progress? Some may say we are developing, our societies are changing and so we should just accept this and get with the times. But should we?
In recent decades people have rebelled against this trend of isolation and self-indulgence. However from the revolutions of Marxist communism to hippie communes the diagnosis has been right but the medication has been wrong, and there have been many, many ‘side effects’. In the case of Marxism, Kant, Nietzsche, Mao, Mussolini, Guevara, Castro et al, the mistake of placing a man where only God should sit gave rise to tyranny and at worse genocide. In the case of the 60’s love revolution, love of man alone, or of creation and Mother Nature, at the detriment to the love of God left many disillusioned as if in a post acid daze (though this may also have been assisted with Lucy in the Sky with her Diamonds). It therefore becomes clear for both the Christian and non-Christians that there is one golden rule that can free us from this self-orientated inebriation, Love of God and love of neighbour. But how do we act this out?
Many Catholics, of right intent and pure motive, express their love for God in a form of personal piety, a holiness, in imitation of the saints and eyes gazing to God. This indeed is a good thing; we need to have a personal, convicted and faithful to the point of childlike relationship with the Father. However sometimes, this may be yet another expression of isolation and self-indulgence and an accretion of holy brownie points. Jesus calls us to “go out into the nations” yet sometimes we forget that we are the messenger and not the Messiah.
Jesus calls us to “go out into the nations” yet sometimes we forget that we are the messenger and not the Messiah.
In Acts 2:42, we see the early church sharing all things, having all things in common. Throughout history, particularly through the patristic age, the Church has been a family, the body of Christ, the branches of the vine. Certainly the branch that is not part of the vine will not bear fruit, the eyes cannot say to the hand that they are more important. We belong to a family, to brothers and sisters. We belong to communities in order to grow and to serve. To many, the fact that we belong to communities is obvious. Don’t we come to mass as a large church family? If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat affiliated with Catholic Youth Ministry (CYM Perth) and are perhaps connected to some kind of faith community. If not, and if you are still reading, then perhaps you are interested in what this is like, or how to start something.
There is a certain commonality amongst them, that they are centered around the “Deposit of Faith“ and particularly God’s word.
There are many faith based communities around Perth and these seem to be growing stronger and more enduring (Disciples of Jesus, Parish youth groups, prayer, Schoenstatt group, Cenacle, Divine Mercy groups etc). I think it is good not to criticize sometimes, but step back and admire what God is doing through those around Perth. Looking at the way these are run, there is a certain commonality amongst them, that they are centered around the “Deposit of Faith“ and particularly God’s word. This is spearheading the New Evangelisation, a desire by the head honchos that the Church is re-energized, re-evangelised, re-catechised, on order to understand the life that God gives through Jesus “life and life to the full” that is one stirred up by the Spirit.
There are many faith based communities around Perth and these seem to be growing stronger and more enduring.
Here is a particular example and the story of how our group came about. About three years ago on a Thursday I was speaking to an elderly parish member (although he is probably representative of our parishe’s average age). This guy was lamenting the lack of avenues to truly understand Gods word, and thus the gospels having any ongoing effect throughout the week. Sensing something in this, I approached our Parish Priest on the Saturday and suggested the possibility of a Scripture study, a form of group “lectio divina”. The Priest did not think this the best idea as there had not really been the demand for it. That Sunday, as some of the congregation gathered after Mass another member approached me. “I’ve been meaning to speak to you”, he said, “I think that we should start some kind of bible study”. We talked about this uncanny prompting. That following Monday I messaged this guy saying, “I think there’s something going on here, we should look into this.” He messaged back promptly, “I’m meeting up with Father right now for dinner, come and join us and maybe we can twist his arm a bit”. Suffice to say dinner was great (at the Naked Fig) and we agreed that two separate promptings may be a bit of a nudge and the rest was history and a blessing.
From that First Friday after the initial meeting, we have been holding this Scripture Study almost weekly at St Thomas More College across from UWA. Our group has grown from the initial 5 or so to about 30. We are more than just fellow travellers on this journey towards God as a destination, but are good friends, brothers and sisters. Through the group, some of us have gone on a life changing pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We have has also evolved into something else, into encouraging each other towards acts of social justice, be it helping out to pack supplies for the Philippines for “Buckets for Jesus” or gathering for “operation Christmas Child”.
We have has also evolved into something else, into encouraging each other towards acts of social justice
A new element that has arisen in the past six months in the group is a monthly Taize and adoration service, which goes for an hour between 8:30pm-9:30pm on a Friday. This evening is open to those in the community and other young adults throughout Perth.
If you are already in some kind of community or interested in starting one, fantastic! Maybe it would be great to get in contact with myself or the guys at CYM Perth, and see how we could help each other and the Diocese grow. Alternatively, if you are interested in joining our group, please email me (I’m terrible with phones) and I can add you to an info list or whatsapp group about our locations, or simply meet up for a chinwag. We usually meet on Fridays at locations around Nedlands, East Perth, Como and Mt Claremont from 7:15pm to about 9:15pm.
If you are not in any of these groups, please pray for us, that God continue to grant us guidance, resolve and fidelity to keep on growing in love for one another and in love for him. I will be praying for you also dear reader.
Kieran can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org