From Our Blog

  • The Millennial Search for Meaning

    January 17, 2017 - 11:03pm

    A recent article at Forbes about the lament of Millennials and their desire to find meaning in their work got me thinking. What makes these youngsters so special? We all want our work to be meaningful, don’t we? I mean who hits the marketplace thinking I can’t wait to do tedious, monotonous work, day after day, until I can retire? I spent some time considering this phenomenon and suddenly many pieces fell into place.

    Everyone wants meaning in their lives. We all find it in different places, but one thing we know for certain is fewer and fewer Millennials attend churches and designate their religious affiliation as “none.” I realized I take this for granted. As a Catholic I know my purpose in life. Even though I am a convert, I am familiar with the Baltimore Catechism which answers the question Why did God make you? God made me to know Him, love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. Every thing I do aligns with that purpose. When I do an Examination of Conscience and realize I have done something that doesn’t align, I have Reconciliation to get me back on track.

    What does this mean for the “unchurched?” Does it mean they are hopelessly left without purpose? No, it would be unfair to say they are all vacuous human shells who will never find fulfillment, but without a natural source of deeper meaning I can see why they identify the activity they spend most of their time doing as noteworthy for assessing importance. Many are deeply involved in charitable work and community improvement, but for most their outside work activity consists of hanging out with friends at sporting events, bars, or clubs. You may ask what about finding meaning in one’s spouse or children. I could easily cite multiple surveys which show the tendency for this crowd to delay marriage into their early 30s and child bearing into their late 30s.

    I certainly don’t think any baptized millennial Catholic who doesn’t attend Mass will read this blog and rush to the nearest church for Confession. My intention is for faith-filled parents, godparents, grandparents, siblings, and friends to realize the spiritual crisis we are all aware of is not disjoint from all of the other issues that young adults struggle with. We know that millennials are also more likely to be depressed than those of similar demographics but in an older generation. Using discipleship lingo, we must build bridges of trust so our loved ones can know that Our Lord lived as one of us and understands our human life perfectly. How do we relay a message of mission and meaning without coming off as preachy or churchy?

    We need to build a church where we put the communion back into community. The early church grew from village to village and nation to nation because others would say in reference to Christians, “see how they love one another”. We must show this love and demonstrate the power of community to those who don’t find meaning in theirs. Pope Francis, moved by the Holy Spirit, declared a year of Mercy, but when it was over said that “Compassion must live on.” The emptiness that millennials feel was created by the generation that preceded it. We didn’t aspire to build church instead we built large houses and demanding careers. These children felt like they didn’t matter and want to make it right, but they don’t know how. It’s time to get back to work.

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