Young adults, families talk faith around the campfire
By Mary Seamans
More than 50 young adults and many of their children gathered around a campfire in Ford City June 23 to learn more about their faith.
Organized by Katie Tylinski, Director of Faith formation at Christ Prince of Peace and St. Lawrence parishes, the event provided food and fellowship to help build community with young adults 20-45 years of age and their families. The highlight of the evening was a Q&A session with Bishop Larry J. Kulick and newly ordained Father Andrew J. Hamilton.
“It was so wonderful to see our young Church gathered around the campfire to gain insights into our faith by having their questions answered thoroughly,” Tylinski said. “We look forward to many other young adult events in the future, and would love to have the Bishop return to an event like this again soon. It is very evident that he loves the young Church. It was also nice to see a variety of young people attending — single, married, families with children and divorced singles from various areas of our Diocese. There is a clear hunger for this ministry.”
Although unsuccessful in trying to “Stump the Bishop,” the questions submitted were thoughtfully answered by Bishop Kulick and Father Hamilton, and sparked lively discussion. Here are abbreviated answers to some of the questions asked:
Can someone go through purgatory on Earth or just after death? Can our suffering on Earth eliminate or reduce purgatory time?
Bishop Kulick: Purgatory is an opportunity for us, in the after-death experience, to be purged of our sin through God’s mercy as part of our journey into eternity. We believe Jesus rose with his soul and body as one in a glorious state. All of us will live forever and will experience the fullness of the resurrection forever. It is where and how we will experience that resurrected life that we are concerned about. Can we be purified here on Earth? Absolutely. The crosses we carry and the sacrifices we make here on Earth, make us stronger and allow us to be more virtuous in our actions.
At baptism we are marked with the sign of the cross. That ontological cross, as well as other changes in your being made through the sacraments, remain with you through eternity, and means that the devil cannot overcome you.
Father Hamilton: Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was perfect. We need to participate in that sacrifice as we head to our heavenly realm. My speculation is that when we meet Christ at our judgement, we may feel that we need to be more perfect, and are not ready to participate in His sacrifice. We will have free will to go to purgatory to be cleansed. I don’t see it as a punishment, but as a choice.
I feel like I see so much demonic influence in the media; why do you think that is? Do you feel like there are signs indicating the second coming of Christ?
Bishop Kulick: We need to know that the devil and his presence is real. We all have free will and the devil cannot take that away from us. We can choose to allow evil to enter in. Many times, with increased ignorance, a lack of grace and a theologically uneducated laity, we do not realize we are making choices that open the gateway, which allows this to happen. The occult is a huge gateway.
Another gateway is the procurement, assistance or encouragement of an abortion. Is there an increase in evil in the world right now? Think about it, parents are not baptized and are not baptizing their children. Tied to the rite of baptism is the rite of exorcism. Couples are not being married in the Church. These things are prolific in our culture today and we are not receiving the grace of God that is freely given to protect us. Every generation thinks that the second coming is here; even St. Paul in his early writings believed this and suggested we lead austere lives because he thought the Lord was coming in his lifetime.
I don’t venture to go there. But I do say that evil is extremely present today, because we allow it. We don’t arm ourselves with the Eucharist or the sacrament of penance and absolution; we live in states of mortal sinfulness. The floodgates are open; how much work does the devil even have to do? It’s like a free holiday! It’s like giving away the keys to the ice cream truck! These are fertile grounds for the devil.
What is the mark of the evil one? Chaos, confusion, disunity. Rational thought is gone today, objective truth is gone. We are polarized and fragmented. Look at what is happening in our culture: a complete division, turning over of moral order, objective truth, and now the attack is on the natural being itself. We give the devil all the power he needs.”
How do you know whether you are following the Holy Spirit or your own inner wants?
Bishop Kulick: The Holy Spirit is alive, and animates our lives and protects the Church. We need to discern our decisions by incorporating right reason and judgement, an understanding and knowledge learned through Scripture and Church tradition, and inspiration by heroic example. If you come to a decision, based in the spirit of prayer, integrity and respect, the Holy Spirit guides us, and is aligned with our conscience. We must be careful that we are not simply following our emotions.
An idea cannot be of the Holy Spirit if it goes against virtues or the disciplines and teachings of the Church. We are given a recipe for life, and if we follow the recipe, it works. Many times, we don’t want to follow the recipe — we want to take a shortcut, make exceptions — and then we get frustrated when it doesn’t work out. The Holy Spirit is working constantly in communion with the Church on our journey. This is why the sacraments are so important. The gifts of the Holy Spirit never go away, and we can pull on them whenever we need them.
Father Hamilton: A principal of St. Ignatius of Loyola is “Never change your spiritual plan in a time of desolation.” When we feel discouragement, we want to quit and make a new plan. The spirit of fortitude, a gift of the Holy Spirit, helps to get us through difficult moments, so that our desires start to align with the desires of God. Having good and wise people around you can also be a great help since we are strongly influenced by our environment.