At Diocesan Young Adult Mass, participants reflect on Blessed Mother's humility, magnanimity
FORT WORTH — Marie-Lynda Akano didn’t mind spending part of her birthday in church. According to the 31-year-old, attending the Sept. 8 Diocesan Young Adult Mass on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary only added more meaning to her celebration.
“I’m so blessed to share a birthday with the Blessed Mother. I couldn’t miss this!” enthused the St. Mary of the Assumption parishioner. “Mary is our spiritual mother and I want to live a life that follows her example and serves God in the best way.”
The reading specialist at a charter school hoped to meet other young Catholics at the evening liturgy. Approximately 500 participants from young adult groups across the diocese came to the Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral.
“We need people we can relate to and can help us keep our faith strong,” Akano continued. “That’s especially important in today’s society.”
During his homily, Father Brett Metzler, who concelebrated the Mass with Father Jason Allan, Father Jonathan Demma, and Father Pedro Martinez, advised his listeners to follow Mary’s example of humility and devotion to Jesus when confronting life’s challenges.
“As young adults, there are a lot of things that are difficult in today’s world and I think our Blessed Mother’s life and her intercession can really help us — particularly her humility,” he told the congregation.
A plague on the psyche for many people is the focus on ego and the temptation to build up one’s self through social media accounts as a way of being accepted by others.
“But it’s not where we find happiness and it’s not where we encounter love,” Fr. Metzler pointed out. “The place where we find love, truth, and goodness is through humility.”
Quoting from the Magnificat, “for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant” (Luke 1:46-55), the homilist said Mary didn’t need approval from others because she was completely confident in God’s love for her.
“Mary lived a very normal and simple life, and now she is the most powerful and exalted saint we have,” he added. In a world full of bad news and despair, “Mary shows us how to have hope and perseverance in the midst of real tragedy.”
Members of the young adult group at St. Patrick Cathedral served as hosts for the Mass and dinner that followed in parish hall. Alejandro Delgado, vice president of the organization, would like to see more diocesan liturgies for 18- to 35-year-olds.
“We’ve been through a period of time when it was hard to connect with people,” the 26-year-old Texas A&M graduate said, referring to the COVID-19 shutdown. “We’re young and devoted to the Church. This large turnout shows me there is a community of young adults who wants to grow in their faith.”
Ruby Ponce agreed. The 24-year-old coordinator of young adult ministry at St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills said Catholics her age are eager to meet peers who share the same beliefs.
“A lot of young adults are kind of lost right now. We are trying to discover who we are and where we belong,” she said. “There’s strength in numbers when it comes to peer pressure regarding morality issues.”
To end the evening, Father John Robert Skeldon, rector of St. Patrick Cathedral, offered a reflection on the idea of magnanimity in the spiritual life and faith journey. Using the Old Testament Books of Jonah and Ruth as examples, he described how living a Christian life involves moving from pusillanimity (having a small, weak soul) to magnanimity (having a large, welcoming soul).
“The pusillanimous [soul] is fearful, stingy, and focuses on self. The magnanimous is trusting, generous, and focuses on the other,” he said.
Jonah exemplifies the pusillanimous. The prophet, called by God to do a task, thinks he knows better than the Almighty how to do it. He is defensive and shirks responsibility.
“But Ruth, a non-Jew, communicates God’s loving kindness through her steadfast loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi,” Fr. Skeldon said. “She is selfless, willing to be vulnerable, and substantiates the idea of a large soul.”
As they journey through life, the speaker asked his young adult listeners to reflect on how their lives can move from the self-defensive, self-regarding, and self-protective to being “other oriented.”
“Be a little less Jonah and a little more Ruth,” he cautioned. “Be more like Christ.”