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What makes faith enjoyable for young adults?

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Scarlett Rose Ford - published on 06/09/23

Our society is shaped by extremes — an “either/or” view of life.

“We play hard, and we pray hard,” Father Thomas Loya exclaimed as our ferry rocked back and forth. The Lake Erie waters sprayed as he recorded his daily live segment for the Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church Facebook during our young adult retreat. “That’s Catholic for you — the both/and.”

Last summer, I came across the Annunciation Facebook advertising a Byzantine Catholic young adult retreat the following weekend on the coast of Ohio. My thought process was: Ohio has a coast? I have to check this out. I packed my bags, fully expecting a weekend of solemn chants, continual prayer, and Divine Liturgy — what I did not expect was for it to be my most laugh-filled memory of the summer, complete with cookouts, bonfires, and a day on an Ohio island. 

For Catholic young adults, there seems to be a lot of pressure to be prayerful and perfect. In my university Catholic sphere, I often experienced pressure to fit into this put-together Catholic mold in order to be accepted: It seemed that you were either the perfect Catholic, or you were a bad Catholic. 

Our society is shaped by extremes — this “either/or” view of life. You are either a good person or a bad person; you either fit into this mold or you don’t fit in at all. On this retreat, Fr. Loya explained that these extremes are polarizing and unsustainable. There needs to be a middle ground, what he refers to as the “both/and.” Especially as young adults, the future of the Church, we have to put an end to the “either/or” polarizing view of the Faith; we need a Church that is sustainable.

Practically speaking, this can seem difficult, but this retreat embodied the balance between play and pray in a way that was natural, prayerful, and fun. After a talk and night prayer, we had a bonfire by the beach, complete with pizza, beer, and music. After a talk and morning prayer, we boarded the ferry to Put-in-Bay, Ohio, for a day filled with mini golf, wine tastings, and good company. This balance made the weekend a time when I felt myself growing closer to God and to the people I was with. 

This is what makes the Faith sustainable and enjoyable for young adults: space for us to grow closer to God and one another, where we can bring each other up in fellowship and run toward God together. This is what we were made for — to play hard and to pray hard!


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

The Human Being Fully Alive
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