The Liturgy: The Source of Catholic Identity

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By connecting young people more with the liturgy, we can see a growth in their Catholic identity.
I love the old Latin axiom lex orandi, lex credendi. Roughly translated, this means that the law of prayer is the law of faith. More simply phrased, we pray what we believe. If you want to know what Catholics believe look at how they pray.

Many who work with young people are concerned with young people's sense of Catholic identity. With the Latin axiom as our guide, the best place we can foster Catholic identity is in the liturgy. In the liturgy, we find our reverence for Scripture, our understanding of the trinity, our belief in the Saints, hope for the resurrection, the necessity of community and the lordship of Jesus Christ. It's all there.

The greatest act of ministry we can do with young people is to empower them to be full, conscious and active participants in the liturgy. If they can sing, get them into choir. If they can speak well, get them to proclaim the Word. If they are shy, get them to serve as a sacristan. There are as many ministries as there are talents. Make the liturgy their liturgy.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Be an advocate for young people. If you are a parish minister, go to bat for the young people and try to open up ministries for them.

2. Train them well. The worse thing that a person can experience is being unprepared during a stressful situation.

3. Ask teachers or other adults to mentor young people into liturgical ministries.

4. After they have ministered, sit down with them to process the experience. Two very simple questions are: How did you see the Lord in your ministry? How was it difficult to see the Lord in your ministry?

5. Once they are comfortable with the ministry, allow them to mentor others.

By inviting young people to minister in the liturgy, they can feel valued and they can better value the liturgy. In other words, they can have a clearer Catholic identity.


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Published August 15, 2003.