How to Respond to “Why” and “How do We Know?”

Today I attended the funeral of a family friend – a 25 year old young man. He leaves behind his parents, 2 younger siblings, one older brother, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and a host of friends.   The Church was packed – as was the funeral home in the days before. His sister read the 1st Reading, his younger Brother the 2nd Reading.  His Godparents read the prayer of the Faithful and his older brother gave us words of wisdom as we prepared to leave the Church. This is obviously a faith-filled family.

“Why?”

Now, and in the days ahead as Youth Minister, as parent, as friend, I will be asked to explain “why did this happen”, and ‘how do we know he is no longer suffering?” ”How do we go on?”  I’m not confident I will have the perfect answer. Does anyone really have the answer?  I know I will not be able to take away the pain.  All I can do is be there; journey with those asking the questions. Be a ‘place-sharer’ as Jesus was to us. 

Be Like Christ

Christ became one of us and shares in our humanity. He cried. He became angry. He was tempted. And he prayed. He laughed. He loved. He was faithful. And he prayed. So that’s what I’ll do – I will pray, with and for all those asking the questions, and we will continue to journey through our humanity towards the gift of heavenly grace that is so freely given to us.

We Don’t Need to Have the Answers

When our Teens begin asking us tough questions – we don’t need to have all the answers, but we do need to be authentic in our response. I thank them for their questions and together we properly seek out the Catholic answer.  When our hearts are truly seeking the truth, the Holy Spirit will make sure we get it. We should be challenging our Faith, and not be afraid of questions – but our questions should come from a pure and open heart, and the Scriptures should be our first reference. Youth Ministry is a relational ministry – we don’t journey with teens to make them believe something or to have them choose a path – we simply walk with them, we listen, we care, we lead by example – the example that Christ has given to us.

Answering the How? And the Why?  I’ll leave those responses to the Holy Spirit. in the meantime, I’ll walk with those asking the questions and through my own faith. I trust that Christ is walking along beside us, a tear in his eye for the family & friends suffering the loss of a loved one. Yet a smile of joy knowing that this 25 year old young man asked the right questions, touched many lives , and was a good and faithful servant.

When teens come to us with the tough questions, we aren't expected to have all the answers.  But be honest and authentic and walk with them.

Barbara McNulty

Barbara is a full time Wife for 21 years and has 3 beautiful young adult daughters. She's a cradle Catholic and have volunteered within the Church for as long as she can remember. Been working within Youth Ministry about 8 years. Barbara's favorite place to be is Disney. Her favorite international spot is Ireland. While she loves listening to music, she can not sing or play an instrument. Her college degree is in International Business - which has nothing to do with her present vocation as Youth Minister. When she can't sleep, she likes to write - she considers herself a 'midnite typist'. Favorite Disney phrase: Hakuna Matata.



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