college travels

Monday, July 21, 2008

Reflecting on World Youth Day

Today is he last day of World Catholic Youth Day, it’s been interesting hasn’t it? WCYD has made me reflect on the differences between young Catholics and young Protestant believers.

There are definitely a lot of similarities ...

In materialistic Sydney where people seem obsessed with making money and living the good life, hasn’t it been great to see young people who believe there is more to life; that there is a creator God who has made the world and cares for it, a God to whom they will give an account of how they live their lives! They believe that Jesus was a real person in history who was also the son of God, that he died to deal with our sin problem, and that he gives us hope and salvation. Yay! – The message of the gospel and genuine faith has been the talking point in a secular, unbelieving world. They even sang some of the same songs that we do: I heard some pilgrims singing “Lord I lift your name on high” one night on the news (a wonderful cross-centred, Christ-focused song). They sang with real joy and enthusiasm, just like our own young people, they seemed to be full of the joy of the Spirit.

There were also many strange (to us) differences ...

As the cross and icons were marched into the city, the pilgrims showed real reverence for rituals and visual representations of the faith. This same reverence was shown for the bones of the dead saint that was brought to Sydney. The belief that God can distribute his grace through these means is very strange to Protestant ears. I only realised this week that the Catholic Church still taught a doctrine of purgatory. One of the motivations for the WCYD pilgrimage was to receive an indulgence from the Pope so that your time in purgatory can be shortened.

This week I have found myself giving thanks for the Protestant Church and the biblical doctrine of grace. There is no need for the extra grace of pilgrimages, blessings from the Pope, touching sacred objects etc. We have direct access to God through Christ alone.

Before the end of term at Youthworks College, Mark Benici spoke to us about his experience growing up in a Catholic home and needing to go through the rituals of mass, confession etc. He said it felt like he was on the outside trying to get in. What wonderful liberty and joy to know that through the blood of Jesus we can have “confidence to enter the most holy place” and that we can “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience” (Hebrews 10: 19-22).

Thanks be to God for this confidence and assurance!

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  • Very interesting reflection...

    On a side note, almost all the entertainers who performed at the many WCYD events were protestant or charismatic ... so the event presented a bit of a dilemma for many of us. How much do we get involved in the event when we can't agree on the Catholic church on every point?

    By Anonymous Andy Judd, at 10:59 pm  

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