The God that Won’t Shatter

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 12, 2024) Local

Young adults make their way to the Saint Patrick Cathedral Pastoral Center for a dinner after celebrating the Diocesan Young Adult Ministry Mass, on March 2, 2024 at St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth. (NTC/Ben Torres)

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FORT WORTH — Were you to think of a list of what you imagine to be typical Saturday night activities enjoyed by people under the age of thirty, I would wager a guess that attending a vigil Mass and eating dinner in a parish hall afterward wouldn’t have even made most of your lists; it certainly wouldn’t have mine, were I to put one together. And yet, I find myself continually and pleasantly surprised by what are some robust examples of an unexpected (or it may be more accurate to say, expected) trend within the demographic of which I am a part. These examples being the Young Adult Masses organized by the Diocese of Fort Worth. Consistently drawing more young people than I believe most observers would anticipate, these gatherings constitute a firm answer to a certain question. Why would so many vibrant, energetic young people, in the prime of their lives, choose to sacrifice potentially getting a head-start on a night about town, for a seat in a cathedral pew? I hear the collective voice of our culture asking this in the back of my head, in a tone indicative of deep puzzlement. This both amuses and disheartens me, as I believe the answer couldn’t be more obvious.

Fr. Jonathan Wallis speaks a homily during the Diocesan Young Adult Ministry Mass, on March 2, 2024 at St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth. (NTC/Ben Torres)

As always, the evening began with Mass, this time celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in downtown. I find the experience of Mass at St. Patrick’s, nestled just off to the side of Fort Worth’s bustling city center to be in some way illustrative of the Church as a whole within the modern world. While inside, my mind often drifts into the contemplation of those in the cars I hear whooshing by outside the wooden doors. Do they know? Are they aware of what is happening in here? Granted a cushion of time by my habit of arriving early to any event I am to cover, I have the opportunity of watching the pews fill with faces not much different than my own. As the clock approaches the start of Mass, I hear that aforementioned question announced in my subconscious for the first time.

Mass commences. The readings are those for the Third Sunday of Lent, wherein the Ten Commandments are enumerated (Exodus 20:1-17), and Jesus drives the moneychangers from the Temple (John 2:13-25). I am particularly struck by the relevance of the First Commandment to the experience of my generation, born as we have been into a world more flush with things that could pass for gods than perhaps at any point in history. Casting a mental glance at some of those seated around me, the question repeats itself once more.

During his homily, Father Wallis gave the congregation a piece of advice, which I found to possess the rather rare quality of being at once comforting and profound. To paraphrase, if we were to live every day of our lives at least attempting to do God’s will, we would be a far greater force for good in the world than we could ever expect. A wonderful re-framing of the old adage that saints are merely sinners who kept getting back up. When he spoke to us again during our meal after Mass, Father Wallis underscored the joy at the core of what it means to be Christian. And it is precisely this joy which forms my blunt answer to that insistent question.

L-R: Laura Campos Gonzalez, Lucia Campos, Diego Campos, and Humberto Gonzalez Nunez hug each other as they exit the Diocesan Young Adult Ministry Mass, on March 2, 2024 at St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth. (NTC/Ben Torres)

Although this observation is certainly nothing new and may be growing more than a bit tiresome for some, it seems to bear continued repetition: ours is a society ravenous for meaning, even though it may not be fully cognizant of its own hunger. Some may have begun to realize that the diet of nutrient-deficient junk they’re being sold provides momentary satisfaction, which in the end, only serves to delay the return of the same hunger, only now with sharper pangs. Even so, a growing number of young people are finding in the Church a source of nourishment which actually satisfies that hunger, instead of just temporarily masking it; it’s like finally seeing the right medical professional who is able to diagnose the root cause of a pain that’s been tormenting you for years, instead of settling for painkillers.

The household gods of our day, like any number of false divinities before their number, have a bad habit of not following through on their promises. They may shower praise, jewels, and garlands on their followers, and their prescribed rituals may be heart-pounding and raucous, but if someone were to make their way through the throng and dare to knock the god off its plinth, it would still shatter, and a new god would need to be fashioned to take its place.

My generation is seeking the God that won’t shatter, the joy that won’t subside, and they’re finding both in Jesus Christ.

Young adult Mass, Diocese of Fort Worth youth, young adult Catholics, youth and religion, meaning for life, trending-english