It’s not uncommon for young Catholics today to feel ‘empty‘ about worship and the Sunday Eucharist, about prayer…about God Himself! Of course, they love the sense of ‘community’ that the parish gives; it’s a place to meet and get to know other people, some of whom become part of you for the rest of your life. They enjoy helping out…it brings a sense of joy and purpose. But the faith aspect itself? Well, that’s questionable. Yes, we believe, but our knowledge about the Christian faith is quite poor at times. And then there’s the feeling that my prayer and worship isn’t leading anywhere. I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel God talking to me. He doesn’t answer my prayers.
And I keep getting these signals from the world around me, that this ‘religion stuff’ is irrelevant now. Religion is for the old folks and the spiritual type. It’s not for everyone. And then of course, the fact that Sunday is being increasingly co-opted today for other activities makes coming for Sunday Mass a distant priority.
Believe me when I say that I haven’t figured everything out myself. And that’s coming from a priest! Doesn’t mean that I doubt God’s existence or the truth about the Christian faith. What it means is that I do not yet have all the answers. But I am continually searching and that’s what’s important. And the more I discover, the stronger my faith becomes. At a young age, a lot of us go through the same challenges. But when we do not try looking for answers and instead drift with the wind that is blowing in our social circles, we are in danger of falling into deeper levels of doubt and pessimism.
Let me say that a lot of practicing Catholics may betray an ‘God is not really here‘ attitude. They follow Sunday Mass, take part in parish life, but in their personal life they do not seem to follow Christian principles and moral values (well sometimes yes). And this may also put off a lot of young people who are looking to adults for guidance. I have sometimes wondered to myself, if I really believe in God, then by extension it also means that God is present with me and that He is watching everything I do. Do I really believe that? If yes, then why do I engage in sinful acts when ‘no one’s watching’? Isn’t He watching? Do children and even teenagers do wrong things in front of their parents? Of course not! They do it when no one’s around. When no one’s watching. Doesn’t this attitude betray in a sort of way, my practical unbelief in God’s existence or presence around me? Is He not there just because I cannot see Him? I am tempted to define this as an “unintentional atheism“.
We are surrounded by a media and culture that is agnostic or even atheistic or could not be bothered about God and Religion. And it’s natural for some of that to seep into us. God is all around us but our ‘Geiger counter’ so to say, has been desensitized so that we cannot perceive His hand in our daily life. Christianity is not just one of the different paths before us. It is the only path. Jesus Christ was a historical fact. He walked among us, died and rose again. No other religion or path can claim this.
There are times when I get up in the morning too and wonder whether my life is true. But then I remember all the beautiful happenings and people in my life and my love for God is renewed. My faith is a huge part of what I am today. The time that I spent in Church as a young boy moulded me. It gave me a sense of belongingness, of feeling loved. But more than that it constantly challenged me to challenge myself. To push myself to go beyond myself. I have a lot of invisible hands that have carried me through life. Just because they are invisible doesn’t mean they do not exist. Saying that God doesn’t exist is like a blind man saying that the world doesn’t exist. He’s invisible but He’s there!