Saturday, July 9, 2011

Facing a Charism At a Teen Birthday Party

Last night, when I walked into a house with our teen in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, I saw something I've never witnessed: a living room with 30, no maybe 40 happy teenagers, playing guitars and singing.

This was a 17th birthday party for a young man in GS (Gioventù Studentesca), the youth group of CL (Communion and Liberation. ) The happy birthday boy was at the electric piano, with his father by his side on the guitar. Where does all this beauty come from? To me, it is a sign of the Holy Spirit moving among us.

The origins of CL stem from the 1950s in Italy, when theologian Father Luigi Giussani discovered that Italian teenagers knew little about their faith despite the nation's high Mass attendance. He founded GS at a high school in Milan. It has since grown into a worldwide ecclesiastical movement.

He wrote: "I came to believe deeply that only a faith arising from life experience and confirmed by it (and, therefore, relevant to life's needs) could be sufficiently strong to survive in a world where everything pointed in the opposite direction...." The opposite direction for many teenagers is a hollowness. Without cultivating their interior lives, teenagers often seek meaning in things that never will be able to answer the longings of their hearts: alcohol, drugs and so on. 

And yet, there is another way. I saw the fruits of that last night. How many teen birthday parties have you attended that end with this true and simple prayer?

Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam.
I believe Someone has been listening.


  1. Almost 60 years later and we are still saying the same thing about young people, aren't we? I'm convinced that Francis of Assisi's family had the same complaint, as did the mother of James and John!

  2. @Shannon: "Complaint?" Not sure I follow. Can you elaborate? Thanks!

  3. What a beautiful experience that must have been, Allison. With the inherent challenges of raising teenagers looming large, it is so nice to have that safe haven....for them AND you!

  4. Yes, it is getting tough. Really tough in terms of age-peers already making some poor choices.

    So this is a wonderful haven for him - and me too as you say...