The Ministry of Prayer and Worship
"Great is the mystery of faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2558).
The ministry of prayer and worship celebrates and deepens young people's relationship with Jesus Christ through the bestowal of grace, communal prayer and liturgical experiences; it awakens their awareness of the spirit at work in their lives; it incorporates young people more fully into the sacramental life of the Church, especially eucharist; it nurtures the personal prayer life of young people; and it fosters family rituals and prayer.
The ministry of prayer and worship with adolescents has several distinct dimensions that provide direction to comprehensive ministry efforts.13 Specifically, the ministry of prayer and worship
- promotes the authentic participation of youth in liturgy (Parishes and schools can acknowledge adolescent faith issues at all liturgies in ways appropriate to the rites, provide opportunities for young people to be trained as liturgical ministers, schedule periodic youth event liturgies that are prepared with young people's input and assistance, and invite young people to help prepare the community liturgies.);
- attends to the diversity of cultures and ages in the assembly (All liturgy takes place within a cultural milieu and context. Respect for cultures and inclusion of native art, music, and expressions are visible components of vibrant worship. The rites need to reflect cultural diversity through the use of symbols, traditions, musical styles, and native language. Parishes and schools can provide opportunities for liturgical celebrations in which young people of different ethnic groups express their faith in their own language, symbols, and tradition. Parishes and schools can also provide experiences of other cultural worship styles and multicultural liturgies that bring people from all ethnic backgrounds together to celebrate. Adolescents reflect a distinct age group and "culture" within our society. Their language expressions, musical styles, and ways of life are often quite different from those of older generations. Those who prepare the liturgy need to find appropriate ways to incorporate the world of young people into worship, remembering that the "pastoral effectiveness of a celebration will be heightened if the texts of the readings, prayers, and songs correspond as closely as possible to the needs, religious dispositions, and aptitude of the participants" (GIRM no. 313). Parishes and schools can explore new music and song texts being composed for liturgy, and invite youth to act as cultural resources—letting the individuals or group know about current trends and expressions that may be reflected in the prayers, songs or rituals.);
- provides opportunities for creative prayer with adolescents in peer, family, and intergenerational settings (Ministry with adolescents fosters and promotes the development of a personal prayer life in young people and celebrates the ritual moments of their daily lives in prayer. The symbols and rituals of liturgy become more meaningful for young people when they draw from their experiences of private prayer. Likewise, private prayer is revitalized by meaningful experiences of the liturgy. Ministry with adolescents also promotes opportunities for communal prayer. The liturgy of the hours, liturgies of reconciliation and healing, ethnic rituals and celebrations, and other ritual devotions allow for creativity and adaptation to the life issues and cultural expressions of young people. Communal prayer provides opportunities for young people of different ethnic cultures to express their faith in their own language, symbols, and traditions and for young people to experience multicultural prayer that brings people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds together to celebrate. Parishes and schools can schedule seasonal prayer experiences for and by youth for the parish community, involve young people in the preparation of prayer experiences for their peers, provide prayer resources, include personal prayer time within programs, and provide prayer mentors for young people. Parishes and schools can provide prayer and ritual resources for home settings that address the unique needs of families with adolescents, the calendar and church year celebrations and rituals, and family rituals, rites of passages and milestones.);
- promotes effective preaching of the word (Parishes and schools can invite young people to reflect on the seasonal readings and to offer suggestions to the homilist for connections to young peoples' lives, provide regular opportunities for adolescents to study the Scriptures, encourage those who preach to use current examples and storytelling techniques, and investigate the developments within culture for their impact on the "vernacular.");
- allows music and song to express the vitality of young people (The music of the young brings freshness and variety to our current musical genres and can perform the same infusion of energy and vitality to sacred music. Music is a significant part of personal expression for young people and that desire carries over to their participation in liturgy. Parishes and schools can invite adolescents to participate in the choirs and musical assemblies, explore contemporary accompaniments and focus on the song and pace of the music, expand the local repertoire of hymns and songs to include songs that young people would select, and encourage singing by the whole assembly so that adolescents feel more comfortable in adding their voices.);
- prepares the symbols and ritual actions with particular care for their visual dimensions (Today's young people have been educated through multimedia. Their visual sense is one of their primary ways of learning and responding to the environment. Parishes and schools can invite adolescents to assess the visual dynamics of the rituals and symbols prepared for liturgy, provide visual aids to encourage young people's participation, and explore the appropriate use of multimedia at liturgy.);
- develops the interpersonal and communal dimensions of the liturgy. (Parishes and schools can focus on the hospitality provided at liturgy, encourage young people to attend liturgy with their friends, build a sense of community among young people prior to liturgy, minister in a personal way, and affirm the presence of young people whenever possible.);
- provides adolescents with effective and intentional catechesis for liturgy, worship, and sacraments (Young people are catechized by their participation in the liturgy; therefore, care must be taken to ensure that their experiences lead them to greater faith. Adolescents need catechesis for liturgy and the sacraments, but are also catechized by their experiences of liturgy. Through immersion in the symbols, stories, and rituals of the communal prayer life, adolescents gain not only a knowledge but an appreciation of the power of the sacraments. A specific objective of intentional catechesis for liturgy is to assist adolescents in exploring how liturgical symbols and rituals celebrate their experiences of God and life events. Parishes and schools can provide opportunities for intergenerational and family-centered catechesis for liturgy and can offer experiential, liturgical catechesis for young people.);
- apprentices adolescents in liturgical ministries (Ministry with adolescents can advocate for youth involvement in liturgical ministries and connect young people with established liturgical ministers for training and experience of actually performing liturgical ministry.).