Wednesday 8 August 2012

We Are Young: Drinking from the Living Waters

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

We are young 
So I set the world on fire 
we can burn brighter than the sun 

These lines are from the song We Are Young by Fun. – featuring Janelle Monáe – which describes the hopes, joys and sorrows of a young man at a bar before closing time. These lines can also describe the experience of each young adult who attended one of the Hearts on Fire retreats this summer. For six weeks, five Jesuits toured the south of the United States to present these retreats. In each of the six cities where we gave the retreat, we met young men and women who were looking to learn more about the meaning and purpose of their lives.

Confusion, unrest, anxiety, distress, fear and tension are all part of the human experience. I think this is particularly true of the experience of young people today. Sometimes we can quickly and easily become discouraged and fearful when we have to make decisions or face challenges. We may have too many options, or we seem to lack a purpose in this world. Other times, it seems that life is too hard or it makes little sense. I have personally experienced many of these thoughts and emotions at one time or another. They are all desolations: they cause us to decrease in hope, faith and love. And in time of desolation, we ought to seek greater intimacy with God.

The Hearts on Fire retreats gave young people the opportunity to learn about their hopes, and to discover the meaning and value of their joys and sorrows. In encounters with the Heart of Jesus through prayer, reconciliation, the eucharist and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, these young adults unearthed some of the truest and deepest desires of their hearts.

The retreats provided the perfect settings to grow in closeness with the Living God. There were opportunities to learn how to discern and understand the movements of their hearts – the motions of their souls. The retreat in Dallas helped a young woman to find the courage to accept her religious vocation. The one in Corpus Christi brought healing to a young man dealing with mental illness. Hearts on Fire New Orleans helped a young woman to discover the pro-life ministry as her life vocation. The retreat in San Antonio taught a young man to live his sexuality in healthier and life-giving ways. In the retreat in Atlanta, a young Jesuit was able to speak about his own experience of God's mercy to inspire others to seek intimacy with the Heart of Jesus.

In each retreat, the participants identified aspects of their Christian vocation that enable them to love more and to be of greater service to their sisters and brothers. They recognized the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the source of all blessings and the fount of all good things. In short, they discovered the true and only fountain of youth: the Heart of Jesus. Drinking from the living waters flowing from the Heart of Jesus is what makes us young regardless of how old we are. Intimacy with Jesus makes us “forever young”. We as the retreat directors rejoiced in the retreatants' discovery. We drank from that blessed source together. Better yet, we dove into it wholeheartedly and happily swam in it.

Intimacy with the Heart of Jesus is the most practical thing to heal a broken world. The Earth and its inhabitants need the fruits of our prayer. I find solace in helping others to find the peace, justice and joy that flow from the Heart of Jesus. When we surrender ourselves completely to God, others find companionship, inspiration and strength. They in turn serve as inspiration and companions to many more. The retreats this summer were a reminder for me that in seeking greater intimacy with the Heart of Jesus, we become sources of peace, justice and joy in the world. Our encounter with God enables us to set the world on fire, a world that burns with love surely burns brighter than the sun.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this posting and for all your hard work this summer! I'll be praying that these kind of retreats will now spread throughout Canada.