Young Catholics should stand their ground “armed with spiritual weapons” ready to challenge the destructive ideologies of the 21st century, a bishop has told a summer gathering.
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, England, said Europe was in danger of losing its Christian foundation and that our times do not allow any Christian to be “mediocre”.
The bishop was addressing more than 200 people at the Faith movement’s 42nd annual Summer Session held last Aug. 11-15 at Woldingham School, Surrey.
He said: “In the seeming quiet of British society in the early 21st century, we are urged again, in the Apostle Paul’s words, to stand our ground armed with spiritual weapons.
“To many, history, the times in which we are living, can be at times as incomprehensible as the movements of the M25 [motorway].”
The bishop reiterated the call of Pope Saint John Paul II for the youth to take up the Cross of the Christ, to choose the path of hope, and to rise towards the goal of holiness.
“And in this gathering today I can glimpse how, along all the pathways of this new century, you will each be needed – as married people and parents, as priests and religious – in all the fields of medicine and science, education, finance, law and politics and every field of human endeavour,” Bishop Davies added.
He urged young people to pray for the people they dialogue with and engage in the spiritual warfare — spoken of frequently by Pope Francis — before engaging in an ideological struggle.
The Bishop of Shrewsbury was speaking just days after Britain remembered the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I and compared the generation of August 1914 to that of August 2014.
He reflected on the decree by Pope Pius X just a few years before the Great War which proposed frequent reception of Holy Communion for the faithful. The Pope of the time saw the impending tragedy and saw this Sacrament as the way of preparing people for the times ahead.
“It was due to this initiative that a countless number would be ready to received Holy Communion in the mud and dust of the wars which marred the century ahead – with a readiness and a disposition to receive Christ himself,” Bishop Davies said.
“It was not as a comforting ritual that Holy Communion was distributed in the trenches of the Great War – or even in the concentration camps of the Second – but as a means for each to reach the goal of holiness.”
Still today, Holy Communion received in the correct disposition is, in Pius X’s words, “the surest and shortest way to heaven”, reflected the bishop, who also echoed Pope Saint John Paul II’s plea to put the Eucharist at the centre of our lives.
Apart from the bishop’s talk, the conference reflected on the family in God’s plan and in the modern world.
Canon Luiz Ruscillo, a priest of the Lancaster Diocese, encouraged married couples and those wanting to start a family to seek to create “a cast iron bubble of security” in their love so that their children recognise the bond between their mother and father.
“The aim of your family life is to try to create and cultivate good soil so that when God’s call comes it has somewhere to take root,” Canon Ruscillo said.
“Be generous with God in the way you live your married love. Be open to God and in that way be open to create an atmosphere of generosity to God.
“Seek to create an environment in your family where God’s voice can be heard for your children, calling them as individuals to fulfil the meaning of their life.
“The faith will only grow if there is depth, stability and consistency in the way you live it.”
A young couple, Chris and Katie Wotherspoon, gave a witness to their married life and spoke about the need to rebuild the family with Jesus and Mary.
They described some of the threats to the family in society such as divorce, contraception and abortion. The couple, who have two children, promoted praying at home, confession, Sunday and weekday Mass attendance, and defending the Church from attack, as ways of re-constructing the family.
Aside from the talks, Mass was celebrated each day and there was also a Reconciliation Service and a Eucharistic Procession. Students, young adults, priests and seminarians enjoyed a traditional Scottish Ceilidh dance, played football and performed in a talent show.
The Faith movement was established in 1972 and works to foster the Catholic faith and spiritual life, especially of young people, through events and publications. It promotes a new synthesis of science and religion to explain the Catholicism which remains loyal to the Church’s Magisterium.
For more information, visit www.faith.org.uk.