Want to do the impossible? Catch them young!” This seems to be the slogan of all pioneers and great heroes of all times. Eminent social and religious reformers had this knack and they had immense youth following; and those with nefarious ends perhaps did it even better. These are times when day after day headlines explode with news of the bizarre and shocking, and youth are there everywhere, perhaps more in numbers than com¬mon people imagine and more for reasons beyond the understanding of the general public .
The Longman Modern English Dictionary defines youth as “the state or quality of being young, the period from childhood to maturity; young people of both sexes”. A youth is characterized by features such as youngness, restlessness, strength, independence, curiosity; search for greatness, vigor good, health etc. Pope John Paul II during his visit to Nigeria in 1982, addressed the youths in these words “Youth is the age of hope, of promise, of enthusiasm, of plans and of ideas. Youth does not want to give up in the face of difficulties… Youth believes in a better world and is determined to do something to help bring it about” .
The concept of “youth” can be defined as all the people within a specific age group, or as a state of being or even a state of mind. A wide range of experiences and transitions that includes an early phase (between ages 10 and 14), a middle phase (between 15 and 20), and a later phase (between 21 and 24).Young people in all three age groups face major events that affect their future well-being. At the younger end of the age spectrum, youth are still children in many respects. By the time they reach the middle phase, youth are transitioning from puberty to maturity. This group can be considered adolescents. By the time a person finishes this stage of life, they have set in motion many of the events that will determine their life path. Finally, youth ages 21 through 24 are also young adults. They are still discovering their interests and talents and making commitments—to work, to a spouse, and often to becoming a parent. All of these phases form the experience of being a youth.
To say that the youth of our land face many problems is not to reveal anything new. Every generation of youth has faced problems. But this particular era of our nation’s history seems to offer the young problems that were not always that pressing on some other ages. Their problems seem to be more dominant, if not of different kinds, than some before them have had to face. Everywhere we see the young confused, frustrated, involved in riots, rebellion against authority, steeped in crime and the age is characterized by suicide. Certainly this is not true of all the youth, but it is true of a distressingly large number of them.
The number one source of youth’s problems is the home. Where there ought to be security, love, provision, guidance, standards, discipline, hope and example, there is often just the opposite. Children are learning to disrespect their parents and many times it is because the parents have not been respectable. Parents are too busy making money, reliving their own youth, and having a good time to be parents. Children learn disrespect for authority in the home. It carries into the school, against civil government, against God. Then there is the media. None who are informed doubt the harmful effects of radio and television on the youth. Freedom of the press has been so abused as to include every kind of glamorization of sin. The youth are exposed to the lurid, lewd and obscene as if it should be socially acceptable. Pornography has become a present-day rage.
The Second Vatican Council rightly saw the youth as torchbearers of today; they received the best of tradi¬tions from their elders, and the duty to form the society is entrusted to them. The Council Fathers were rather blunt in their words: “You will either save yourselves or you will perish with it”. They cautioned the youth to be aware of the seductions of egoistic or hedonistic philosophies, the calls of annihilation and despair, and the challenges of atheism, egoism and terrorism. Half a century after the Council, strangely and sadly, the youth are still in the clutches of these limitations all over the world, irrespective of culture and religion, land and language.
In his International Youth Day message, Pope Benedict XVI noted that young people aspired for fulfillment and security, building upon authentic friendships and true personal relationships. They would like to discover life, in all its grandeur and beauty. This inner urge for perfection is itself an imprint of God in us and yet, the Pope noted, many allowed a certain “eclipse of God”, with a denial of the treasure of faith .
This paper is an attempt to explore the problems that the modern youth face and to discuss the role that a priest can play in today’s youth’s life. The paper is divided into three main sections. The first one deals with the problems faced by the youth and its psychological, social and spiritual aspects. The problems enlisted cover drug abuse, alcoholism, changing trends and sexual problems in detail. The psychological aspect deals with the parent-youth relations and conflicts. It’s followed by a study of the various quests youth lead like the quest for independence, security, recognition and participation. The social aspect of the problems deals with the impact of society and media on today’s youth. The chapter closes with the spiritual aspects of the problems exploring through the young people’s relation with religion and God.
The second chapter is about the youth appearing in the Bible. The chapter starts by giving an idea about the perception of youth by the Bible. It points out that generally the youth is considered in the Bible as physically strong but spiritually weak and they need the guidance of more experienced people. The chapter also relates the few exceptions given in the Bible for the general notion about the youth. There were blessed young men who showed exceptional maturity and wisdom even when they were young and inexperienced. The specific cases detailed here are that of Isaac, Joseph and David. It’s followed by a narration on the nobility and sincerity in the friendship shared by David and Jonathan. Then follows the notion about the youth in New Testament, and the New Testament’s advice to the youth. Further we see about the youth in the New Testament. Moving on we reach the end of the Chapter II where the paradigm of youth- Jesus is exemplified.
Chapter III discuss about the priest’s role amidst the modern youth. It starts with a short description about why pastors should be interested in the modern youth. It goes on to tell about the various ways in which pastors can involve themselves in the life of the youth and the ways through which the youth pastors can gather the youth and coordinate various programs so as to channelize their energy towards the good of church, community and most importantly for the youth themselves. It’s followed by a detailed study about counseling youth which puts into practice the role of the priest as a healer. The counseling section starts by relating how priests and counseling is related. Moving on we see how to approach the youngsters in counseling and it’s followed by different methods of counseling. The chapter closes with a comparison between the methods of Jesus and modern psychological methods.
YOUTH AND THE MODERN WORLD
1.1. What is youth?
Youth is the time between childhood and adulthood. Youth generally refers to a time of life that is neither childhood nor adulthood, but rather somewhere in –between. Youth also identifies a particular mindset of attitude, as in “he is very youthful”. The term youth is also related to being young. Youth is an alternative word to the scientifically oriented adolescent and the common terms of teen and teenager. Another common title for youth is young person or young people .
Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary; some of them are the following:
“Youth… those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years.” (United Nations General Assembly.)
“…youth … comprises persons between the age of 15 and 24.”(Used by … the World Bank)
“A person… under 21 years of age.” (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
“People between the ages of 14 and 21.” ( Wilson School District)
“Youth; an individual from 13 through 19 years of age.” (Alternative Homes for Youth)
“Youth is defined as any member of society between the ages of 15 and 34” (The Danish Youth Council )
1.2. Problems encountered
Most of the problems facing today’s youth are not restricted to any one ethnic or religious group, but affect young people generally. Most discussions on youth have focused on issues such as drug abuse, crime, violence, sexuality and poverty.
In addition to these, today’s youth are afflicted by new challenges.
1. An Identity Crisis: Who am I?
2. Lack of self confidence and low self esteem: I am worthless.
3. A sense of hopelessness: Where am I going?
4. Confusion and ambiguity concerning moral issues: What is right and wrong?
5. The negative impact of the electronic media: Entertainment?
6. Competitiveness in education: the uneven playing field: Excellence by whom? Not Me .
1.2.1. Drugs and alcohol among youth
Each year an estimated 300,100 people die as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. Youth are affected by drugs and alcohol each and every day. Many see their parents doing it and others do it there selves. Either way drugs are not an unknown acceptance in the society of today’s youth. Drugs and Alcohol take lives each day. In 2009 it was reported that an estimated 300,100 people died as a result of drugs and alcohol. Children between the ages of 12-14 are most likely to have tried an illegal drug.
Being young, beautiful and naive is something that can be ruined so easily by using drugs. Experimentation with drugs during adolescence has become very common. Adolescents tend to feel immune to the problems that other people experience with using drugs. Drugs can have many physiological and psychological effects. In addition, drug abusers lose what makes humans unique and admirable. Finally, consuming drugs can create a dependency. Due to these consequences, the youth should be better protected against drugs.
It is generally known that most drugs can have very negative effects on people. Drugs are substances used without medical supervision to change the way a person feels, thinks or behaves so that he or she can have fun. Especially teenagers with a family history of substance abuse, who are depressed, who have a low self-esteem or who feel like they do not fit in the mainstream are potential drug abusers. Drug abuse can have physiological consequences such as fatigue, respiratory infections, digestion problems, red and glazed eyes and lasting cough. The mood-altering chemicals in drugs affect the brain because they are similar in size and shape to natural neurotransmitters. Therefore, drugs affect the way the brain functions and alter its responses to the world. Drug abusers can show personality changes, violence, poor judgments, physical irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, depression and general lack of interest.
Drug abusers can lose what makes them admirable and unique. Most persons become less admirable when they start using drugs, because they will experience personality changes if they continue using drugs; they are not aware of their responsibilities towards the society; they lose respect towards others, even towards their friends and family. When drug abusers cannot use drugs, they get depressed and, therefore, run the risk of losing many friends .
1.2.2. Changing Trend
Radical changes are coming in the way people think, perceive and carry on in their day-to-day living. Some of the sig¬nificant ones are: Globalization is moving far beyond trade and commerce and has seeped into the political, social, cultural and intellectual fabric of the whole world; the rate of technological change is doubling every decade; the information environment of every individual is radi¬cally changing; world transforming technologies are be¬ing adopted by individuals and groups with minimal un¬derstanding of their consequences; the basic social in-stitution of the family is getting redefined, etc. It is needless to point out that the younger ones are at the heart of all these transforming winds, enjoying ‘breeze’ yet tossed back and forth, often uprooted from the safe and secure ways of the old .
The youth are called to be harbingers of hope and harmony. Young people today have more education, experience, greater political openness and have increased contact with the outside world through television, internet and migration than any of their predecessors. Young people are not only makers of this new world but also the ‘beneficiaries’ and ‘victims’ of its development. It is observed that the present generation of youth is ambitious, technology oriented and confident. Now the world is passing through the first decades of the new millennium. This is the era of information tech¬nology, bio technology, nano technology and mediacracy. The method and tools which were used to explain the nature and style and life vision of man became irrelevant in the new digital era. We have to find out new tools and methodology to define the human nature the computer age.
The IT world gave a boost to computer literacy and education, which in turn was the cause of eradication of caste barriers. Urban youth are more concerned with their professional ambition than their caste.
There are sections of the Dalit and the tribal who assert their identity. Their young people are engaged in a struggle for their own self-identity demanding their due share of the benefits of development.
Obviously many millions in this group remained in a struggle with poverty but out of the teen population some 22 million belong to the urban mid class and are in a position to influence the economic dramatically as they grow older. Many young people are having their first taste of rising prosperity and expectations.
Even the Indian life style has moved from traditional stable society! From mostly agrarian to a highly developed, industrial and space society. There is a change from rural to urban living. In such a society, where the youth came from various strata of the society, with diverse culture, religions, economic status, languages and lifestyles, the youth experience difficulty in adaptation to the changing roles and value systems. The present education system is commercialized and practically the culture and heritage of different sections of the society are seldom dealt with in the curriculum.
The Indian society has been divided into three groups: conventional, contemporary and general youth. The first repels any kind of modernization, second accepts every kind of modernization and the third brings about and carries off modernization. Hence, the third is being pushed and pulled amidst the first two. The traditional joint cohesive family has changed to a micro and in-cohesive family. The busy life schedules and changes in the working hours resulted in lessening the chances for open sharing in the family.
Seemingly all youth issues are directly and obviously related to the form of the society around them. Youth reserved societies struggle for the ‘freedom of choice’ – choices to occupations, choices to views, choices to cloths and most of all choices to education. It brings about conflicts of values and creates frustration among
Micro families put more pressure on the youth as their parents expect high performance from them. The growth the population of youth and the limited opportunities, all fields make the situation more complex. The parents want their children to be competent to exploit only those opportunities they think are worthwhile/ to rise up-to their expectations. In the last few years, due to socio-economic and political factors, there have been increasing health prob¬lems in the youth. Today, the youth in India form one of the most vulnerable groups, who on the one hand are expected to be leaders to determine the destiny of India and on the other hand are an exploited and confused group .
1.2.3. Sex and youth
Sexual adjustment is one of the most difficult phases of the adolescent’s strivings toward maturity. Many writers, especially those whose investigations have brought them into contact with simpler social structures, have remarked on the unfortunate and psychologically hazardous situation of civilized youth who, on achieving sexual maturation, are constrained by social forces of one kind or another to forego sexual expression that is proscribed by laws and customs. The sex drive is one of the most potent of the physiological needs, and that it is strongly conditioned by psychological needs as well, are facts already well known. But the exact character and course of sexual development during the period of adolescence are not so well known; and thus parents and others, if they are to deal intelligently with sex problems, need to understand psychosexual development, its special characteristics, and its more obvious manifestations. It is not enough to grasp the relatively simple fact that at puberty there occur maturation of the sex structures and functions. These events must be regarded in the light of their implications for social, emotional, and moral development; and the searchlight of investigation must be turned fully on the aberrations in conduct to which this development often leads.
The sexual adjustment is one of the major problems of adolescence has been brought out in a number of studies. There is a great change in the human body during the adolescent age. This makes an uncontrollable curiosity to understand and feel the changes in them. Psychosexuality is not a phenomenon peculiar to the sexually mature organism, since the beginnings of psychosexual development are found in the preadolescent period. This contention is directly in line with the idea that the lines of demarcation between childhood and adolescence are in every case obscured by the gradualness of all development, and that all changes in youth have their ontogenetic antecedents in childhood .
a) The Development of Sex, Feelings, Attitudes, and Interests
The many studies of psychosexual development, dealing with sex attitudes, feelings, interests, curiosity, and the like, indicate quite clearly that adolescence does not initiate but only intensifies specifically sexual behavior which, as Willoughby (1937) suggests, is probably controlled by an endocrine readjustment. The sexual impulse seems to appear spontaneously; only the various forms of gratification are acquired.
A great deal concerning the character of sexual awakening can be learned from a study of the mental factors and the behavior accompanying sex development. Sexual feelings, desires, curiosity, fantasies, and dreams are all signposts of sexual ripening. First appearance of sex curiosity is generally between the ages of 12 and 18. This discrepancy, however, is probably due to a different use of the term “curiosity,” since too many studies show that curiosity concerning such things as the origin of babies begins at a very early age. Definite sex feeling seems to precede both sexual desire and conduct; ordinarily there is a considerable interval of time between the first sex feelings and indulgence of sexual desire .
The early awakening of sexual feeling is attested also by the appearance of sexual fantasy. About 39 per cent of the men and 13 per cent of the women indicated such fantasies as occurring before puberty. Similar numbers reported imagining having intercourse before they were pubescent. Post pubescent fantasies were generally more realistic and vivid than the earlier ones. These Endings are similar to those dealing with erotic dreams, with the qualification that in our culture such dreams seem to be characteristic largely of males. The great majority of boys in various studies report the occurrence of sex dreams. In various studies from 60 to 100 per cent of boys, report having such dreams by the age of twenty. These are often preceded by erections, or accompanied by nocturnal emissions, which lead variously to fright, surprise, or pleasure.
There are other factors in sexual development. Sexual awakening is not coincident with the glandular changes of puberty, but in one respect or another precedes pubertal evolution, at least in the majority of children. This fact should serve to remind us that sexual development, like all others, is integral in character, and cannot be fully understood apart from the many other changes that occur in the organism between birth and maturity. As Fry (1942) states, “The development of maturity involves the individual’s entire personality, and achieving sexual maturity is an integral part of the process.” It is apparent throughout that sexual growth cannot be considered alone; it is connected at many points with other departments of life, and the absence of satisfactory adjustment elsewhere apparently impedes the achievement of sexual maturity.
The attitudes of youth regarding sexual development and experience are depending partly upon the object of reference. The phenomena of sexual maturation, for example, evoke many different attitudes: some youngsters react with pleasure or sexual excitement, whereas others experience shame, disgust, bashfulness, or other negative attitudes. Willoughby (1937), on the basis of data gathered by Achilles, indicates in graphical form certain changes in attitudes and emotional reactions of youth. Achilles found in addition that worry differs according to sex, girls being more worried than boys concerning maturational changes. This worry, like other attitudes, increases with age. These data indicate quite obviously that there are striking and significant changes in attitude produced by sexual maturation, attitudes that serve to condition later sexual experience and conduct .
Dalin (1943), in a survey of opinion at the college level on certain controversial issues, included the question: “Do you believe premarital sexual intercourse should be permissible if hygienically and moderately pursued?” The replies, all by male students, showed that 70 per cent were favorable to such a practice under the given conditions, 25 per cent were unfavorable, and 5 per cent were undecided. In general, students of eighteen and nineteen years of age were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposition, while those below and above this age group were more cautious and inclined to conform to traditional mores.
b) Types of Sex Problems
Wile (1930) lists four types of sex problems in youth: (i) those having to do with autoeroticism; (ii) those arising out of homosexual inclinations and practices; (iii) those coincident with heterosexual practices; and (iv) those deriving from sexual perversions of one kind or another. This classification is not without merit, especially in view of its similarity to recognizable stages of psychosexual development; but it is limited by it’s over simplicity. There are some sex problems that do not fit into such a scheme, such as the emotional conflicts or feelings of guilt that arise in connection with erotic dreams and nocturnal emissions – experiences that can lead to difficulties just as surely as do the more obvious sexual inclinations and practices. However, it is the latter that occasion the greater number of emotional conflicts in adolescence, and it is to these that we shall devote special attention.
c) Why do increase in Sex problems in Modern youth?
In discussing the origins of such problems there have been a general release of sexual activity and a decline of inhibitions. The absolute morality has lost regulative power and the new generation finds itself floundering in the restless sea of relative morality without great certainty as to the course to pursue to a safe haven.
When we explore in to the cause of emerging rate of problems it can understand that cultural changes in Western civilization that have complicated the sex problems of youth. There is the profound change in the status of modern woman, which has helped to destroy the old ideal of chastity; the increased stimulation of sex fostered by changes in style of clothing; and the greatly increased knowledge – all of which have led to changes in the character of sex problems. The more intimate biological knowledge regarding sex, and familiarity with sexual technique and the contraceptive art, as well as misinformation regarding the mental effects of sexual restraint, have led to less clandestine sexual practices, even, though it is probable that modern youth is no more promiscuous than his nineteenth-century counterpart. There is also the fact that recent social and economic changes facilitate much greater contact between the sexes than formerly, and often under conditions pregnant with opportunity and temptation. In general, therefore, sex problems continue to reflect changes in the social order greater freedom, an emphasis on hedonistic philosophy, the emancipation of women, greater contact between the sexes, style of dress, the breaking down of tradition, disruption of family life, loss of parental authority, and particularly the loss of a moral and spiritual anchorage – all have influenced the character and the extent of the sex problems of modern youth.
Sex education is of three kinds: nastily Education is that which helps young adults to understand, learn and appreciate the gift of sex. Biological Sex Education is purely biological instruction, limiting itself to a scientific approach to understand the productive system. The third kind is comprehensive sex education, which is “value-free” and very dangerous .
Values of love, life, relationships, marriage and family are targeted as sources of repressions, fear and guilt. Some people on grounds that they based on religion attack these values. Such people talk about ‘freedom’ and ‘loss of this freedom’ is given tremendous importance. ‘Permissive behavior’, ‘modern lifestyle’, ‘free sex”, ‘my body, ‘my life’ are the key phrases that they use. So what really does society want for their future generations? How does society desire to nurture and form their youth? Youth are the powerhouse of our future. They have the right to receive sex education. Why ban sex education? Is not a ban going to create sexual anarchy? Mahatma Gandhi often spoke on sexual morality, and frequently emphasized the Importance of sex education. The ban on sex education may lead to sexual perversion and direct our youth into a big sex mess .
The mass media are partly responsible for creating the generation of consuming adolescents de¬scribed. Today’s child has been surrounded, as no other generation before, by messages in newspapers and magazines, and on radio and television, urging the purchase of the newest antiperspirant, breakfast food, or shaving cream. Adolescents can now record television programs and rent movies for home use. Some experts worry that rental movies will expose more youths to violent and sexually explicit films. Others contend that the hours spent in front of yet another video attraction will cut further into study and exercise time.
The mass media have also created an age of instant news – television viewers share in the experiences of starving Africans, terrorist bombings, wars, and massive earthquakes. Today’s youth have not just heard about killing; they have seen it in the nightly news. They have been bombarded with sensory information that affects emotion and feeling, as well as cognitive perception. Global com-munication not only transforms the mind but also motivates the will and stirs the emotions to action. As a result some youths are skeptical about what they are told. They have learned to believe what they see happening, rather than naively to accept what they are told is true. They have learned to see through false promises, to distinguish thought from action, and sham, pretense, and hypocrisy from sincerity and true concern .
We live in a media saturated culture where reality, truth and character scarcely matter. Under the wide banner of entertainment, the media provides society with an unrealistic portrayal of life and sex. Both the print media and the electronic media are obsessed with sex, and portray it as something everyone must do right away. Strangely, in matters related to sex, the government seems powerless to enforce the law. The masses too are powerless to bring about change and so the media rides high, happily influencing our growing youth in sexual promiscuity. We live in a media saturated culture where reality, truth and character scarcely matter.
Lack of knowledge on basic biology
It is time that we equip parents and teachers with the skills of ‘how-to-talk-about-sex’ confidently to their children and youth. Treat sex education as a process. Parents are best suited to be primary educators of their children. Their loving relationship with their offspring is singular and irreplaceable and therefore, cannot be relegated to or usurped by others. Clearly, there can, be no avoiding the duty to give our adolescents an authentic education in sexuality and love. Parents should provide children with sufficient instruction on basic biology and protect them from exposure to sexually oriented stimulation. Teach them to appreciate the God-given gifts of human sexuality and to understand that irresponsible sexual behavior can be risky, harmful and dangerous. We cannot remain indifferent to the crying needs of our youth today. Youth certainly have a right to sex education. A healthy approach towards understanding the gift sex must be included in the education of our youth. Since it is interconnected with morality and spirituality, cannot be neglected .
1.3. Psychological Aspects of Problems
During recent year’s psychologists, psychiatrists, ministers and others interested in human problems have brought forth much evidence relating to the emotional bases of these difficulties. Psychological facts, which were little known even a few years ago, are now gaining household acceptance. Mass media such as radio, television, and literature are continually bringing a wealth of understanding to the average person about the nature of emotional conflicts.
The number of people who are seeking psychological and psychiatric care also evidences this trend in understanding and accepting the emotional aspects of problems. It is noted, also, in the emphasis, which is being given in college and seminary curricula to understanding the emotional nature of man . Although many individuals prefer to think only in terms of the physiological causes of their problems, they are willing to consider the emotional causes once they learn that there is no physiological basis for their symptoms .
1.3.1. The Parental Relationship
The majority of adolescents said their major source of life satisfaction in the future would be their family life . As a group, youth is in mass rebellious against their parents and parental values. This is simply not true. With out such emotional wearing and learning of to make decisions and to assure responsibility for their own lives, adolescents cannot grow into mature adults. There is a difference in establishing emotional and social independence and rejection parents and parental values . Eight major issues are –drugs, education, work, politics, religion, choice of friends’ sex and dressing style.
18.104.22.168. The Parents of Today
The natural adviser and guide of young people is obviously enough the parent. But for a variety of reasons -all of them quite intelligible- the modern parent does not advise and does not guide.
Once a counselor asked to two boys “Go, talk to your father” , and to girls “Ask your mother about that.” The reply in both cases was an embarrassed look and then in the great majority of cases : “I never talk to my parents about anything that’s really important.”
One can hardly put all the blame on the shoulders of the parents. Too many factors have got between them and their children. The modern father is by economic necessity an extremely busy man. He has to work hard to maintain the standard of living to which he has accustomed his family. He leaves he house early in the morning, he returns fairly late in the evening; he often has business engagements on Sundays and in the evenings; he feels that he owes himself a little recreation on his brief holidays. And in the charming casualness he has decided that “the children should be taken care of by their mother anyhow”.
Many a father wakes up one day to discover that his role in the life of his youngsters has become that of a bogey man. “Just wait till your father comes home; I’ll tell him about this,” cries mother, when things get past endurance. And father becomes a monstrous threat of vengeance held over the youngster’s heads. Even the fact that father is probably the mildest of disciplinarians does not much affect the case. Dad’s role is that of a hobgoblin who snatches away from naughty children and rebellious adolescents their allowance, the hope of a new coat, a night out at a party, permission to go to the movies. And the modern mother is almost as busy as the modern father. The radio brings her soothing music as she works about her house; but it also brings her programmes to which she must give an attention undivided by housework. The gadgets of her kitchen and her general household have cut down her manual labor, but they have also increased her needs and the demands of her family. Demands have been made too upon the women’s leisure. She has been encouraged to believe that she will be a better mother if she will give more time to self-development. And she believes it. But time given to self-development usually means less time that she can spend on the children. A modern woman with her clubs and lectures is a pretty busy member of society. And the higher her standard of living, the more likely it is that she faces a daily programme of staggering size and variety .
22.214.171.124. The Parent Youth Conflict
Many of the parents of present day suffer from another notable disadvantage: they are afraid of their own children. They cannot match their children wisecrack for wisecrack, and conversation becomes difficult when they pit their somewhat plodding minds against the slang repartee and pat replies of the child whom modern society has trained to the belief that he knows all the answers. In addition the really generous parent wants to life his child to a level higher than his own. At great sacrifice he gives his children an education far better than the one he had. Daughter comes back from college, wearing her collegiate hood with an air; and mother recalls that she considered herself privileged to have finished high school. Dad is vastly proud of his son, who goes from his university studies into a field of special studies; but dad recalls that his own education was full of holes plugged by the courses he took in the University of Job Hunting.
It is a good deal to expect a father and a mother to offer their hard-earned experience as a guide for boys and girls who have just stepped out of classes in experimental psychology and modern problems. If parents are today a little afraid of their smart sons and daughters, it is because those same parents with sublime self-sacrifice have given their generous forebears. Their generosity has actually got between them and the possibility of their knowing and helping their children. There are certain questions too which a parent hesitate to discuss with his children. Any matter regarding sex immediately becomes personal when discussed by a parent. At least the parent thinks it does, and the result is embarrassment. The parent feels that if he discusses marriage for example the child instinctively thinks: “Oh, so that is the experience through which he has gone!” Parents believe that cannot discuss love without betraying their own love experience that they cannot talk about the way in which children are without creating in the mind of the child the immediate reflex : “So that’s the way I was born!” For the parent the quizzical, questioning eyes of the child turn the impersonal talk on sex or sin or love into a highly personal self-revelation. And is very likely that the child’s attention to the talk has been purely impersonal. An understandable self-consciousness makes father and mother think that the child’s attitude is personal. And whether or not the parents are justified in their embarrassment, natural, easy confidence is destroyed .
126.96.36.199. Wrong Guidance
If the parent is not going to fulfill his duty as guide and ad¬viser of youth, there are plenty of people who will, who are volunteering to take his place. The trouble with these volun¬teers is that they are generally the wrong kind of guides.
The modern boy or girl, young man or woman, is surround¬ed by associates of his or her own age, associates who are more than willing to give information and advice. It’s simply dumb¬founding to realize how consistently wrong that advice is. It is of course information that is based on half facts and advice that is based on misinformation. Unguided themselves, they pick up scraps of knowledge in a fashion that closely resembles the methods of a scavenger. They get broken bits of information, often enough out of the gutters. They hear and misinterpret remarks made by their elders. They read, and they see neither meaning nor context. And without restraint or charge they ped¬dle to their associates the resultant hodgepodge of old wives’ tales, children’s legends, false data, and snap-judgment conclusion.
The mass of misinformation that circulates among young¬sters of all ages would fill set after set of encyclopedias. It’s really a shame that someone with a taste for erotica does not gather this misinformation in order to amuse or shock the ma¬ture, reader. Stimulated with the half information or the covertly communicated advice of his young companions, the youngster seeks fuller knowledge. He is shrewd enough to distrust his associates. Despite all the airs of wisdom that his companions assume, he Realizes that they know little more than he does, whom they are ‘instructing’ or guiding. Their information rings false. The data do not check with known facts. The advice sounds more than a little mad. And the youngster, instead of being helped, is simply precipitated into a frantic quest for real information. So he goes scampering off for a book on the subject. Even if he gets a wholesome, sane, sound book, he may be unable to understand it. He is very like the amateur or the layman who dabbles with a medical book; the terms are strange and un¬familiar and to the untrained mind convey the wrong meaning. This dabbling is especially dangerous when the youngster picks up books on sex. For on this subject cold print, however deli¬cately shaded, cannot but jolt and jar; the written word often seems so much more coarse and harsh than is the word spoken by a sympathetic person.
If however it is the youngster’s bad luck to run into one of the guide books written by a pagan or by a man of evil mind, he is in a terrible way. All sorts of harmful texts are today of¬fered to young people: texts on sex instruction, advice on love and courtship and marriage, treatises on all types of unmoral and immoral conduct, advice for the young man who is seeking a career or for the young woman who is hesitating between mar¬riage, and some more spectacular form of life. The writers of many of these books are atheists who regard man as no more than an animal. Their viewpoint on the most sacred relationships and indeed on the whole meaning of life is animalistic. They present solutions which ignore God and the decencies of Christian conduct. They write as if there never had been a divine teacher. They offer modes of living which exclude all consideration of the God-man, who came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Even if the young reader is not taken in by these professed guides and misguides, the fact remains that he is living in a world that is pagan and non-catholic. The oldsters read and listen with their tongue in their cheek. But young people have not as yet acquired the perfect technique of tongue-in-cheek, and they listen, read and are impressed .
188.8.131.52. Individual Changes
The average little girl regards boys as complete nuisances. The average little boy regards girls as complete nuisances. This means that during the early days each prefers companion of the same sex. Little boys like to go with little boys. Little girls enjoy their being with little girls. Little boys and little girls barely tolerate one another.
Even during long periods throughout their adolescence girls may prefer to stay by themselves rather than go about frequently in mixed groups. Athletics are as a rule one-sex affaires. And athletics have, we may say with great gratitude, filled large sectors of the live of our growing boys. The girl’s club is a natural thing. And girls in clubs are surprisingly content with the companionship of other girls. The average boy prefers a tennis game with his fellows to a set of mixed doubles. The average girl prefers to belong to a card club made up of girls rather than to join a club in which boys will prevent the normal activities which girls enjoy.
But the natural desire for companionship that exists in all young hearts must be taken into consideration. There are times when young people of opposite sex rightly like to be together, rightly want to be together. A young person is naturally drawn toward companions of the other sex. There are sports that are best played by boys and girls together. And guides and counselors of youth are making a mistake not provide the chance for this mixed social life.
184.108.40.206. Some Approaches to Parents
Wouldn’t it be grand if we could settle this whole matter of youth’s social life by tossing it right back where it belongs, to the parents? Wouldn’t be perfect if we could say: “Social life is no problem. Catholic homes are the centers of social life”? Wouldn’t be ideal if when any suggestion of sex education was brought up our answer could be: “We don’t have to teach our young people about these matters; their parents have handled all that most it adequately”? And wouldn’t it be gloriously Catholic and right if mothers and fathers were guiding their own children in all that regards the boy and the girl relationship? Perhaps we shall have solved the whole question of the attitudes of boys and girls toward one another when we have cleared up the question of the attitude of parents toward their own children. When homes become the centers of social life, when the boy brings home the girl in whom he is interested, when the girl introduces the boy to sympathetic and interested parents, when a boy goes to his father—or rather when a father brings his son to him—to learn all that he needs to know about sex, and when a mother shares the confidences of her daughter to such an extent that the girl’s difficulties of adolescence are discussed and cleared up without embarrassment or surprise or even a slight quiver of loathing. Then no doubt the millennium for youth will have arrived. Perhaps we may can say: “Guides of youth, your first great job is to be guides of the parents of youth.” This recalls the need for a course of study for parents. To teach parents how to make the home over which they rule a perfect centre of social life for their children would be a great step toward the solution of all of youth’s problems.
May be guides and counselors could give back to the -to whom it belongs—the whole matter of the guidance of their youngsters in all that concerns social life and the relationship between boys and girls. But since it is likely that we are long years from the millennium, and since not all Catholic homes are centers of social life, and since parents do not guide their children and in most not even talk to them, and since only very rarely do, and since children and young people do go to others, it is the parents who must go ahead with the problems of youth.
1.3.2. The Quest for Independence
It is the crowning paradox of the adolescent period that youth is motivated at the same time by two contrary tendencies: the need for security, and the need for independence or emancipation from the home. These two drives, along with the need for affection, can cause considerable conflict and disturbance in the minds of young persons if not properly reconciled. The craving for independence is one of the most important, from the standpoint of adjustment. Independence is the prerogative and the natural goal of every personality. Without it maturity, integration, adjustment, and adequate socialization are impossible. In a very special sense a person is mature only in the degree to which he sets himself up in the business of adult living, unfettered by the demands, restrictions, prejudices, and controlling influences of other persons. He can become self-integrated only if he cuts himself away from the dependency that is a necessary part of his earlier life. He can achieve adjustment only if he strikes out for himself, and learns by experience how to meet responsibilities, and now to make necessary and important decisions. The development of an adequate social life requires separation from those with whom one has identified through affection and security, and the establishing of social relationships with other individuals.
The Real Meaning of Independence is more than separate existence or economic self-sufficiency. It means, above all, emotional, volitional, and intellectual independence, and the free¬dom of action that this independence makes possible. He needs to establish the emotional perspective and control that will enable him to live and enjoy an existence separate from the parents. This emancipation is a prerequisite to establishing other relationships in adult life, particularly those involved in marriage. Young people also require volitional independence – the opportunity to make and adhere to their own decisions. There is no way of achieving decisiveness without practice in making decisions. And adult life, as everyone knows, is crammed with situations in which persons are required to decide things for themselves. Volitional independence is a human prerogative is attested by the fact of man’s psychological freedom. It would be a strange thing indeed if man had the power of choice but not the opportunity to exercise it. When violation takes place against this need, seriously affect on the development of personality .
1.3.3. The quest for Security and recognition
The desire for security is so common an experience that we take its meaning for granted; but if we ask what security means, or what it involves, the answers given are often obscure or ambiguous. Actually security has multiple aspects, and in order for the need to be satisfied in a manner contributing to adjustment, all of these facts must be considered. We can thus distinguish economic, emotional, social, and psychological security, each of which has different implications for different levels of development .
That the adolescent craves such security is evidenced by the characteristic fears developed during this period, and therefore the more secure the economic status of his family, the greater will be his sense of security. Yet we may safely assume that economic security is of far less importance to the adolescent than to the adult, because the financial responsibilities coincident with adult living have not yet become a part of the youngster’s experience. It is for this very reason that he should be required to contribute in some measure to the economic well being of the family, so that he may learn the serious lesson of financial responsibility, and indirectly contribute to his own economic security .
A family is a society in miniature form; it is a sanctuary of love, affection, care, understanding, appreciation, and all virtues one can think of. The bonds that exist in a family between husband and wife, parents and children, and among siblings are sacred and matchless. In short, it is in a family that one learns the basic lesions of life and develops the skills of tolerance and harmony. How ever, today many researchers trace violence among youth to dramatic changes in family ties.
As a consequence, these youth are left emotionally devastated, self-centered, angry and alienated. Family ties do matter. Single parent families; say dysfunctional families are no more exceptions. An Increasing number of children grow up without the love, care and support of one of the parents, which eventually lead to various types of psychological disorders. Without strong, sound, united, supportive, caring, value-based families children feel isolated and disconnected. This leads to anger, frustration, loneliness and violence .
Social status of the family or any group affects the status of its member. Here we find a distinct difference between adolescent and child mentality. The child is little aware of the factors that make for social integration or disintegration; but this is not true of the adolescent. The breakup or threatened break of the family through divorce, separation, death, war, and other cases, will seriously affect youth’s security. The family or the state as a social unit is more meaningful thing to the adolescent.
It is rooted in the individual’s estimate of himself-of his abilities, his intrinsic worth, his social and moral status, his emotional balance, and his physical integrity. There are many persons living in a world of great economic and social security that nevertheless feel insecure; and this is especially true of adolescents. The trouble is they are not sure of themselves. They doubt their own worth, they question their own abilities, and their emotions and feelings play tricks on them. This insecurity is a special instance of lack of integration. That is why physical integrity, which is made difficult by the continuous changes of the bodily mechanism during adolescence, is so important to the development of security. To a person not sure of himself, whatever the cause may be, threats of social or economic insecurity can be appalling; It is bad enough not to be sure of oneself; but when in addition one cannot even be sure of those things that have always endured, the mental shock may be catastrophic. It is these persons who often retire from reality to an inner world of fantasy, where the security they crave can be realized. In this autistic life they need face only themselves; and their real or imagined deficiencies, not put to the test of actuality, frighten them no more.
Emotional insecurity is closely allied to the condition just described, and may be characterized as a feeling of un¬certainty regarding one’s emotional experiences. The most striking manifestation of this feeling is the emotion of jealousy, which of its nature is a confession of insecurity. The jealous person is, of course, uncertain of his emotional hold on the object of his affection . Emotional insecurity arises also from the conviction of being un¬wanted or unloved, which involves, therefore, the need for affection. In adolescence particularly, emotional insecurity is likely to develop, not so much, however, because of lack of affection, or because of jealousy, but because of the uncertainty of the adolescent’s emotional reactions. He is not sure about his own desires for security, affection, and independence; his emotional life may become confused. Sexual stirrings, a “crush” on his teacher, longings for forbidden experiences, and exciting sensations from contact with the opposite sex, feelings of guilt and shame, embarrassments – all of these contribute to emotional insecurity. These various uncertainties lead to intellectual and volitional insecurity. There is no doubt that adolescents often have serious misgivings about their own judgments and opinions, and that they put little faith in their ability to make decisions. This is partly due to lack of experience and knowledge, but it is in larger part a reflection of other insecurities .
We may note the close connection between the need for recognition, with its implications for personal worth, and the desire for security. Since security means a great deal more than freedom from physical want or danger, the achievement of recognition and a feeling of worth can contribute significantly to the gratification of this need. When a violation takes place against this need seriously affect on the development of personality. The integrity of character often manifested in adult life, which expresses itself so clearly in sound moral and social conduct, is one important result of an adequate development of this basic need .
1.3.4. The quest for Participation
In the behavior of adolescents one can discern a strong tendency to share, and to actively participate in, the experience and conduct of others. This two-fold tendency, to participate and to share, is one of the strongest social forces in man’s repertoire of needs. Youth seems particularly eager to participate in the activities and experiences of others, to form groups, cliques, and societies of all kinds. The adolescent is by nature a social animal, and should be given opportunity to develop his social capacities to their utmost. Experience in social living is necessary if the individual adolescent is to learn how to live in society; and the period of adolescence contains many excellent possibilities for social living.
Activism and Powerlessness
Youthful idealism and concern about social problems is still much in evidence. A survey of under graduate students at a mid western university yielded five items that 75 percent of the subjects rated serious or serious problems today – drug use, pollution, hunger, threat of nuclear war and poverty . This is an age of more activism but they are always helpless before authority and governments. The youth feel to do some but the social situations are not allowing fulfilling their wishes of response and reaction. But there is the feeling of seriousness in concern of problems, but only minority come forward to help to solve it. Now there is declension in the rate of activism. By the change of world youth withdraw to their privities. There are also still islands of activism among peer groups.
Responsibility and Irresponsibility
Adolescents are sometimes accused of being irresponsible and lazy.
“What are you doing”?
“What would you like to do”?
Most adolescents dislike helping parents around the house, but they want to work at jobs outside the home. There are some authorities, however, which are beginning to feel that many adolescents are devoting too much time to jobs and not enough to school. Another disadvantage involves pre-mature affluence: having large amounts of money, most of which is spent on discretionary items. It is not unusual. But it patterns fail to prepare adolescents for adult self-sufficiency .
1.4. Social aspects of the problem
The society in which adolescents grow up has an important influence on their development, relationship, adjustments and problems. The expectations of the society mold their personalities, influence their roles and guide their futures. The structure and functions of the society either help them fulfill their need or create new problems by stimulating further tension and frustration. Because adolescents are social beings who are part of a larger society, there is a need to understand this social order and some ways it influences them. This discussion is confined to seven important influences on today’s adolescent:
1.4.1. Technological and Social Change
The adolescent of today lives in a society undergoing intensive and rapid technological change. Since the turn of the century, it has witnessed unprecedented advances: the introduction electricity, radio, television automobile, airplanes, nuclear energy, rocketry, computers, and robots. Each new invention stimulates in turn a service of additional technological changes . In every culture, technological innovation becomes the stimulus for social change as well. For example, new technological innovation has consequences for social living and necessitates for an increasing number of adjustments. The faster the city grows, the more difficult it is for people to exert any control over their physical environment or their social order. These rapid technological and social changes have profound effects upon the adolescent. It may cause for five effects.
(1). The past grows distant from the present. This makes the adolescent feel that everything old is also out dated and irrelevant and should not to be allowed to exert much influence on today’s life.
(2). The future grows more remote, uncertain and unpredictable, so the adolescent feels less secure about tomorrow.
(3). Rapid change weakens the roles and functions of the family. Emotional ties are loosened by geographic mobility. Fewer inter personal contacts results in socialization and emotional and morale-building functions.
(4). Cultural confusion with shifting believes attitudes, values, mores, and standards results in stress, conflict and personality disturbance in the lives of young people. Uncertainty and conflicts create disturbing internal stress. One result of change is spiritual vacuum in which adolescents have difficulty in finding identity.
(5). Increasing technology and social complexity have increased a period of adolescent dependency. The need of education has increased and requires more years of preparation, so the period of dependency up on parents has lengthened .
1.4.2. Social and Emotional Stress
Today’s adolescents have been exposed year after year to physical violence and disturbances in the world: the murder or attempted assassination of national leaders, the bombing of embassies, terrorism on a global scale, and war in over a dozen countries. It includes constant exposure to violence on television and in the press. National studies reveal that many children and youth are afraid of the nuclear threat .
The most disturbing change in recent years relates to mortality factors. When young people die, they die violent deaths. Among adolescents aged 15 to 24 who die, 76 percent die violently. Death from accidents, suicides, and homicides has passed disease as the leading cause of death for youth (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1991). Young people are the only age group in the United States that have not enjoyed improved health status over the past 30 years. Death by communicable disease has decreased appreciably, but the rise in violent deaths has more than offset the reduction in deaths due to disease.
There is a link between alcohol and adolescent suicides, homicides, and fatal accidents. In some areas, the percentage of teen suicides that had been drinking prior to their deaths increased from 13 percent in the period 1968 to 1972 to 46 percent a decade later. The equation becomes even more deadly when firearms are involved. Alcohol content is use of a firearm. Homicides, suicides, automobile accidents, firearms, and alcohol are pernicious threats to our nation’s youth. They represent the most serious forms of problem behavior when found in combination. From a psychological point of view, stress creates upset and insecurity; continued stress can result in disturbed behavior .
1.4.3. Problem of Social Behavior
Parents were concerned about the social behavior of their youths. Petting parties had replaced the “spooning” of the previous generation. Boys and girls petted openly between and after dances, retiring to dark corners, lawns, or parks. One study revealed that one-half of all youths believed that nine out of every ten boys and girls of high school age had petting parties. The use of contraceptives by youths of the twenties was a major scandal. Even the best hotels provided a machine in men’s washrooms that sold contraceptive devices for a quarter. Youthful drinking was another controversial aspect of adolescent behavior during the Roaring Twenties.
1.4.4. Violence in the media
The influence of the media on violent behavior is hotly debated. Media expert George Comstock asserts that media violence does have a significant Impact on antisocial behavior, particularly when it is rewarded or left unpunished, portrayed without showing the pain and suffering that result, or portrayed as realistic. Leonard Eron, chair of the American Psychological Association’s Commission on violence and Youth, after completing 32 years of study one topic, argues, “television violence affects youngsters of all ages, both genders, and all socio-economic levels and level of intelligence”. Even more alarming, perhaps, is his finding that parents who grew up watching violent television programs are more likely to use violence in their own parenting .
As people in this country began to leave their frame and move to the cities in increasing numbers their lives were drastically altered. The sheer size of the city makes personal, close relationships more difficult. The individual feels isolated and alone in city with million of people.
Urbanization creates impersonalisation in the family. It becomes very harder for family members to be together and to create each other personally when they seldom see one another or spend many lives together.
Urbanization creates a host of social problems. Over crowding poverty, slums, gangs, delinquency and other problems affects city life. Cities have a way of altering the lives of people, imposing stress, strain, temptation and problems on the children and young growing up within their confines . Cities provide good education and other facilities but youth has to undergo a greet stress of mental pressure.
1.4.6. Materialism and Poverty
Today’s youth have grown up in a time of affluence unpredicted in the history of the world, with the majority of adolescents sharing in the benefits of this prosperity and a minority, by a comparison, becoming poorer than ever. Money is at hand because parents seem to offer in ample supply or adolescents are able to earn a part of in them selves. Today’s youth constitute a huge consumer’s market Business caters directly to them; clothes, cosmetics, automobiles, compact disks, Tapes, verity of mobiles, magazines, sports equipments, liquors and thousands of other items. Business centers try to attract them to their products through varieties of advertisements. A major segment of youth culture has become a status conscious, prestige seeking culture. Today’s youth have become concerned about self- how best to get a good job and satisfy their won material needs. The emphasis is own earning a big salary and winning the struggle for status position and material advancement.
The over emphasis on the materialism leads more stress to the extrinsic values than the intrinsic values. Now youth is concerned about the extrinsic values such as property, status and security through the money. Intrinsic values such as need of self-expression, creative use of one’s own abilities, helping others and morality etc. replaced by the extrinsic values. Given the realities of the world, large numbers of youths will be disappointed when there immediate accomplishments do not measure up to their expectations. One of the problems is that such adolescents grew up in families where parents have taken a lifetime to earn what they have. Their children expect to start at where parents are now, and become disillusioned when they cannot. Those families who have not been able to keep up with the struggle for money status and prestige seem poorer than ever.
A certain percentage of middle class and upper middle class youth have rebelled against the over emphasis up on the materialism and seem to want the other extreme. Affluences have created an opportunity for leisure for young. Leisure is also a problem to the drop out or to the unemployed or disenfranchised of any social class. Certain percentage middle class and upper middle class youth have rebelled against the overemphasis upon materialism and seem to want the other extreme. These adolescents are more content with very few material possessions, emphasizing instead relationships with other people and with the world . Materialistic and technological advancement has given them the best and the fastest of everything. Unable to bear the slightest inconvenience, their minds are constantly at war with someone or something .
1.4.7. Social Approval, Recognition, and Conformity
There are, of course, many other tendencies besides these. The desires for social approval, recognition, and conformity, on the other hand, continue unabated throughout adolescence; in fact, they may be regarded, as characteristic adolescent wants, since all three have important social implications. A great deal of the anguish experienced by some adolescents because of clumsiness, irregular features, skin blemishes, overweight, or academic weakness, is traceable to the fact that they strongly desire the favorable opinion of others. Similarly, there are many instances that illustrate the desire for recognition. While such instances are admittedly the exception rather than the rule, there are many other smaller ways in which youngsters try to win recognition for themselves. Few persons are totally insensitive to acclaim, because acclaim is a public avowal of personal worth, and the conviction of worth is necessary to ego-security. This is especially true with adolescents, since there are many reasons why (in their minds) there is good ground for questioning their worth. Because of incomplete development and integration; because they so often fumble in their varied efforts at achievement; and because of the uncertainty they feel with respect to themselves, adolescents need encouragement .
1.5. Spiritual Aspects of Problems
Because man is a spiritual being, it is important to consider the spiritual aspects of human adjustment. And since many problems do have spiritual causes, it follows that they have spiritual solutions. But unless a counselor has experienced spiritual conversion himself, he cannot understand spiritual causes or solutions of problems . “But the natural man receive not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2, 14).
In fact, the man who is not born again is not only without spiritual insight; he often rejects consideration of spiritual matters. This is natural since their very consideration may be convicting to him. Yet, seeking to understand and help people who have psychological problems, without recognizing the spiritual causes and solutions, is to counsel ineffectively and unscientifically.
1.5.1. Religion and Life
Religion plays a significant role in the life and development of an individual. Belief in a higher, spiritual power- God – is essential for balanced human development. Religion and religious practices make a person more humble, loving, caring, selfless and forgiving. However today especially in the western world, most youth tend to neglect this important aspect of personality growth and mental balance. In academic circles, the culture tends to be persistently skeptical of religion. So both textbooks and classes tend to ignore religion, thus leaving students ignorant of religion’s role. The most recent survey conducted by an agency called Tearfund reveals that 39% of Britons claim to have no religion at all in their lives. Relative neglect of religiousness bears a serious psychological impact on the person. Lack of visible religious signs and symbols expressions can make people materialistic in their out look and approach. This in turn will lead to a loss of meaning in and respect for life – one’s own and that of others. A few years ago ‘The Indian Express’ reported that a remote village in Kerala had the highest number of suicide cases in India. The reason is that, there are no places of worship and religious symbols were available anywhere in that village. The communist ideology they held strongly compelled them to destroy every trace of religion or spiritual practices. Lack of belief in higher powers led them to lose feeling of life. They began to frustrated, disillusioned and fed up with life and resorted to either suicides or fight and kill each other .
1.5.2. True Guidance and Faith
Youth are that part of the society which is rich in promise. Wherefore a human person is defined to be a spiritual being, the spiritual quest climbs the ladder of importance among the elements that make the human being what he or she is. For a person reared in Christian faith experience and Catholic heritage, the spiritual quest is not merely a quest in the air, it cannot be a groping in the dark. It is well focused longing for an experience of a personal God, who shares so unbelievably much in his or her life. Therefore a true guidance and faith is so essential for life. “I want to see you Lord” was the chorus arising from the hundreds of young people thronging a stadium during a youth gathering. One of the participants asked suddenly “is God real?” Even when he was listening to the inspiring messages from the Scriptures and worshiping in praises, the nagging question refused to take a backseat. He approached a priest with his thoughts: “after all we can’t see Him or hear Him….How can we be so sure about the reality of God?” of course, if God is only an idea in the mind or a power lost in the heights, He will not be of any consequence to anyone. For God to be real in the lives of the people He is to be felt tangibly in the pains and struggles of human existence. Only a God felt as “God with us” – Emmanuel, sharing the pains and sinful struggles, will be relevant for the people, especially the youth. Only then will their lives flow into the history of salvation.
The young man John enters salvation history with the search to see of God. Andrew and he were disciples of St. John the Baptist. They were standing together with their master when at that moment Jesus was passing by. The Baptist pointed Jesus out to them and said, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world… I saw the spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him….Now I have seen and have borne witness that this is the son of God”(Jn.1:39) With a thrill going down his spine, he records this event: “they came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour”. Like John the Baptist there should be people to show the youth right path and give them proper guidance. Church and church leaders play an important role in this area. Down to the centuries the leaders of the Church in their endeavour to bring the youth into the mainstream of the Church have opened the way for different movements to help the youth. The World Youth Day, initiated by Pope John Paul II has attracted great attention of the youth worldwide. Every other year the youth of the world gather in an important city, share their experiences and concerns in their pursuit to follow Christ in their day to day lives. Jesus Youth, a movement started by and maintained by the youth, is attracting a lot of interest in the leadership of the Church. In short the proper guidance to the youth, especially in the faith formation is necessary. And thus we will be able to say ‘the lives of these young people have become the books written by the hand of God as gospels for the world of today.’
YOUTH IN THE BIBLE
2.1. Youth In the Old Testament
The meaning of the words, especially the Hebrew words refer ring to young people trespass every such bound we put in modern times. In the Jewish tradition, there is the ritual of bar/bat mitzvah which is performed at the age of thirteen. This marks the boy as entering into maturity as a religious person. But we have information about this ritual only from the period of the mishnah. WE have no possibility to know what the practice was among the Jews of the biblical times. In the reform movement this ritual was extended to the girls also. This ritual signified that the young man or woman is thence¬forth personally responsible for all of his religious obligations and en¬titled to all rights and privileges of the faith, synagogue, or community. As to the terminology for youth the Hebrew language has three words: bahur, na’ar and yeled . Though all the three can refer to youth or youthfulness, in practical use they are not identical in mean¬ing. Slight difference in meaning keeps these words unique in them¬selves. The Hebrew word na’ar is very broad in its use. It can in¬clude a person between the babyhood and adulthood. Thus the three month old Moses is referred to as na ‘ar in Ex. 2:6. When a small child, Samuel is call na’ar in 1 Saml :22;24, at an older age also when he was able to receive revelation from God, he is called na’ar (1 Sam 2:11;18;21). Jacob and Esau are qualified by the same word when they were growing up boys. (Gen 25:27). At the age of 14 years, Ishmael is called na’ar (Gen 21:17. Joseph is na’ar at 17 (Gen 37:2). When Joshua was a young adult at the service of Moses he is called na’ar (Ex 33:11).
The feminine of na’ar is na’ara’. Another word in the same sense is betula. These words are used for designating women of marriage¬able age. In that sense it is equivalent to the other Hebrew word alma (Prov30:19). Na’ar and bahur are used for one in the prime of man¬hood (1 Sam 9:2; Prov 20:29). The story of king Rehoboam gives us a related idea of the youth. He was just a young man when he came to the throne of Judah. He acts with extraordinary haughtiness and pride. His consultants are also young men. The result was that he did not heed to the advice of the experienced elderly people and it resulted in the division of the country into the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah. Here in this story young is the symbol of lack of experience and thoughtfulness (IKing 12:6-14); cf. Is 3:4f). In the OT young man is very often used as an equivalent of soldier (Gen 14:24; 1 Sam 30:17; 2Chron 36:19). These cases show the asso¬ciation of youth with strength. In the same way na’ar is used in the sense of servant (Judges 7:10; IKings 18:43). Here also the main idea is strength or capability. In the prophets we have another idea of youth. It is the time of intense devotion.
2.1.1. In the Wisdom Tradition
This general idea of the OT is more or less continued in the wis¬dom tradition also. The above terminological study has shown us that the Bible or the Semitic world as such regards the youth from two points of view, namely, from the perspective of strength and from that of maturity. According to the Bible, the young people are symbols of strength and the female young ones are understood also in terms of their beauty and attractiveness. Another view is that youth is symbol of immaturity and lack of wisdom in contrast to the elderly who are generally considered wise and mature. Though this is the common view, the wisdom tradition of the Bible knows also the fact that no generalization is possible and that there are some young people who are wise and to be preferred to the elderly.
In the book of Proverbs, the purpose of proverbs is given as “to teach shrewdness to the simple; Knowledge and prudence to the young” (Prov 1:4). In the same book the author speaks of his experi¬ence in the following words: “and I saw among the simple ones, I observed among the youths a young man without sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house…” (Prov 7:7). IN both these verses we are able to notice two implications con¬nected with the idea of the youth. First of all “youth” and “simple” are mutually associated. In both places the word for youth is na’ar, while the word for simple is ptaim.. This word has a wide range of meanings like simple or simplicity, lack of experience, imprudence, and silly, foolish and so on. The basic meaning seems to be lack of experience and hence ignorance which makes a person easily se¬duced or enticed. Therefore it points to the weakness in the character of the youth. They easily become prey to the seducers. The sec-ond idea in these verses is that the youth is associated with the need of learning and acquire prudence to avoid evil enticements. In fact both these ideas are interconnected and the resultant impression we get from these verses is rather negative pointing to the lack of expe¬rience and knowledge of things which makes the youth very vulner¬able and become prey to the wicked people.
With these negative ideas, there is also the positive idea of strength attached to the biblical understanding of youth. The book of Proverbs says, “The glory of youths is their strength; but the beauty of the aged is their grey hair” (Prov 20:29). The strength spoken of here is physi¬cal strength because the Hebrew word choha used here does not refer to any spiritual quality.
Keeping these two ideas together we can say that the general biblical idea about the youth is that they are physically strong and spiritually weak. Their physical strength becomes useful only if their spiritual powers are strengthened. So the youth are in need of guid¬ance by the more experienced people.
Some Individual Cases-
The Bible presents not only some ideas about youth; but it also tells us the lively stories of some real young men and women. These stories give us the biblical idea of youth in its more positive perspec-tive.
2.1.2. Isaac, the Ideal Young man
The second patriarch is Isaac. He is perhaps the most ideal char¬acter the Bible presents before us. Isaac is often mentioned in the formula “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) which occurs 23 times in the OT and 7 times in the NT. The name is connected with the Hebrew word yishaq which means to laugh. But the question as to the subject of this verb remains unsolved. There is the possibility that God is the subject. Then it can mean “May God smile favorably upon me in my distress”. The subject can also be a human person (Abraham Gen 17:17;Sarah Gen 18:12-15) everyone who hears (Gen 21:6). He is not a prophet or a leader like Moses. He is not a priest or king or any such person of authority. Yet he is an ideal character. Among the Patriarchs he is the only one who keeps the ideal of monogamy ac¬cording to the creation accounts. In Gen 1:26- 27 marriage is a one -to -one relationship. Polygamy or polyandry has no possibility here. In the second creation account (Gen 2:7-25) also the ideal relationship between husband and wife is exclusively a one -to -one relationship. We have here a much stronger idea of this relationship. The male and female are formed from the same body. It is to be noted specially that the first man God created from the adamah is not called man (i.e. male human being), but only as humankind (adam). He is called man (male human being- in Hebrew ish) only after the formation of the female (isha’). This ideal of marital relationship as a one-to-one rela¬tionship is maintained only in the life of Isaac among the patriarchs. Isaac is so obedient to his father that when he was asked to go with him to offer the sacrifice on mount Moriah, he does not make any objection. In the valley when he was told that the lamb for the sacri¬fice would be provided by God he did not suspect the intention of his father because he had full confidence in him. When he was tied and put on the altar to be sacrificed, he is silent. We are wonderstruck at the confidence and sacrificial nature of this young man. Whatever be the intention of the author in presenting Isaac with these most un¬usual and humanly impossible patience Isaac stands out as the most exemplary young man in the OT.
Isaac’s purity is not only in his character, but also in his race. Among the Israelites there is no one so pure in racial identity as Isaac. He is the son of Abraham and Sarah. Sarah was not only the wife of Abraham, but also his half sister. So Isaac was a member of the family of Terah in both sides. Therefore he was racially also very pure.
Joseph had an encounter with God. He reverenced God. The fear of God was in his heart. Portipher’s household prospered because of the presence of Joseph. How about you? He hated sin. He successfully resisted the temptation from his master’s wife. To the sin-laden wife of his master Portipha, he asked, “how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God”? (Gen. 39:9). To escape the wrath that might befall him as a result of this great sin, he ran and fled from this great evil, sin of fornication. Godless youth would take advantage of this immoral opportunity and yield to the temptation. It takes a heart that has been washed by the Blood of The Lamb, a youth who has experienced the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, a sanctified person and Holy Ghost filled to overcome such temptation. For the bible says “for the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”. Titus 2:11-12.
After Isaac the one name which is very important as an example for an ideal youth is the name of David. He is the second king of the Jewish people and the one chosen by God in the place of Saul whom God rejected from continuing as king. Among the kings of Judah and Israel there is none who is comparable to David. Even Solomon who is known as the wise king is nothing in comparison to David his fa¬ther. It is true Solomon was more gifted as a composer of poems and proverbs. It is also true that in his time art and literature were encour¬aged in the country and Solomon was himself an artist and poet. But from two other considerations Solomon stands much below David. Solomon was very imprudent in his dealing with the people. He did not love the people as David did. While David was a popular king Solomon was a sort of elusive king. His contacts were with the tal¬ented people and in that attempt he either forgot or did not mind the ordinary people. He was cruel and killed many of his opponents. The result was people hated him. He imposed heavy taxes, much more than the people could bear. In his time itself there was tension and drift in the population and it got precipitated after his death and took the form of two countries in the time of his successor Rehoboam. But David was very popular with the people and with every citizen of the country.
The name David is not very common in the Bible. What does the name mean from the etymological point of view? The popular idea is that the name is connected with the Hebrew word d-w-d and that it means “beloved”. But this idea does not seem to be correct. Today scholars connect this word with Dodawahu or Dodayahu. They think that David is an abbreviated form of Dodayahu or Dodawahu. Then what does it mean? It can mean “love of Yahweh” .
From his youth David shows the excellence of his character and the greatness of his courage and the magnanimity of his love for his country men and for God whom he acknowledges as the one behind all his success. “The young David was obviously an outstanding youth, red haired and handsome (1 Sam 16:120) and strong and courageous, to judge from his remarks to Saul “(17:34f). We can follow the outstanding nature of his personality from the following considerations. He gives an example for sincere friendship; he is very human with a heart of compassion and a readiness to help people in need; he is a great devotee of the Lord having done more than any other king or other Jewish leaders to organize the religion and to plan for a permanent house for the Lord to dwell in this world with the people; his sense of propriety and devotion to God in sparing king Saul on many occasions though the king was David’s biggest enemy. He is also unique from a consideration of his part in the establish¬ment of the Davidic dynasty as divinely established dynasty which was to continue for ever and in the reception of the divine promise for his everlasting kingdom which promise in later days was inter¬preted in terms of the Messiah.
2.1.5. David and Jonathan: the epic friendship
In the history of monarchy in Israel these two names are very important not only as examples of ideal young men but also for their friendship which has no parallel in the Bible. David’s life as a young man was ideal. It is after his contact with Saul and his marriage with Saul’s daughter that we notice changes in his character. The boy David as a shepherd and a good singer and harpist was liked by everybody. His fame reaches the length and width of Judah after his vic¬tory over Goliath and over other Philistines. It was about this Goliath that the Bible reports: “All the Israelites, when they saw the man fled from him and were very much afraid “(ISam 17:24). It is this man that the young David, the shepherd boy killed all alone without anybody’s help. The ideal young man of the Bible, either after Isaac or with Isaac is David. His victory over Goliath makes a total change in his relationship with others. Just after this incident it is reported, “When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (1 Sam 18:1). This is only one side of the picture. The whole Israelite com¬munity loved David after this event.
“As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel singing and dancing, to meet king Soul with tambourines with songs of joy and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they made merry’ Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands”(lSam 18:6,7).
The friendship between David and Jonathan is of epic character Both of them were in their youth when they made the covenant of friendship. Afterwards Jonathan becomes more attached to David than to his own family. He intercedes for David and leaks out Saul’s plans to kill David. The intensity of their friendship is clear in the words of David which he used in the elegy sung at the death of Jonathan: “Jonathan lies slain upon your high places. I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me. Your love to me was wonderful passing the love of women” (2Sam 1:25-26).
David’s devotion to God was unique. He did all the planning for the building of the temple and found a safe place for the Ark of the Covenant and organized the priesthood. His devotion was rewarded with the promise that his kingdom will last forever. This promise becomes the promise of the Messiah in later interpretation .
2.2. The New Testament Terminology
In the Greek testament of the Bible we have mainly three words referring to youth. They are neanias (a noun), neaniskos (adjective) and neoteros (a substantive). The exact meaning of these terms can be understood only in the context of their use in the NT. Neanias appears a total of five times only (Acts 7:58; 20:9; 23:17,18,22). It is used in the sense of young man. Neaniskos is an¬other word and it is more frequently used with a total of 10 occur¬rences (Mt 19:20,22; Mk 14:51; 16:5;Lk7:14;Acts2:17;5:10;23:18,22; Un2:13f). Neoteros is found in Lk 15:12f; Jn21:18;Acts5:6; ITim 5:1; Tit 2:6; IPeter 5:5). After these common words, there are also less frequent words like neos, neoteros, neossos, neotes etc. To show that one is younger than another the words elasson, neoterikos etc are used. It only shows that there is a wide variety of terms to ex¬press the idea of youthfulness. In the basic concept behind these words is the same as the OT idea of strength in physical matters and weakness in character resulting from lack of experience and matu¬rity.
The idea about youth in the wisdom tradition is continued in the NT also. In writing to Timothy, the author of that letter instructs him about being cautious lest others take advantage of his youth: “Let no one despises your youth; but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (1 Tim 4:12). The author of the letter to Titus has a similar instruction asking him to “urge the young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6). The Greek word translated as “despise” in Timothy 4:12 is kataphroneo and it means to think in disparagement, to scorn, to condemn, to despise etc. The idea behind it seems to be immaturity and lack of experience and prudence to deal with people, especially the elderly and more experienced ones. The Greek word translated “self-controlled” is sophronein and it means to be sober, to be of sound mind, to be of humble mind, to be in one’s right mind etc. Here also the idea behind is the vulnerability of the youth because of immaturity and lack of experience.
2.2.1 The Young men of the New Testament
As we come to the NT, we have so many young men. We have the story of John the Baptist from his birth. But we have very little information about his youthful days. No one except Luke is interested in his youth and Luke who relates the story of the birth and infancy has just a verse to speak about his young days: “The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the days appeared publicly to Israel” (Lk 1:80). We have the twelve apostles of Jesus who are also to be considered youths at the time they were called and made his disciples. But nothing is said about their younger days. We have much more information about the youthful days of Paul the apostle. But that is not very bright. In his youthful days he was a persecutor of the Church and then after his conversion he identifies himself with Christ. He himself says, “And it is no longer l who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). Therefore to know Paul the young man it is enough to know Jesus the young man.
Jesus appears as a boy and a young man in many scenes in the gospels. As is very obvious it is Luke who has more details about the infancy and teenage of Jesus. About his infancy Luke says, in clear variation from the infancy of John the Baptist, “When they had fin¬ished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was with him (Lk 2:40). Later, after the incident at the age of 12 Luke says,” Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all those things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor”( Lk 2:51,52). We have another important scene from the youthful days of Jesus which every evangelist is careful to relate. It is the scene of the baptism of Jesus. Jesus humbles himself in receiving baptism from John. The result was that He was honored by God himself by pouring the Spirit on him and making the great declaration that Jesus is His beloved son. Jesus is the ideal last young man of salvation history through whom God spoke his last word to man. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews witnesses: Long ago God spoke to our ances¬tors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a son” (Heb 1:1,2) who is Jesus the young man who was martyred and raised in his youthful days and remains a youth in eternity. Therefore we can with confidence that the first young man of the salvation history is Isaac and the last young man is Jesus.
2.2.2. The Rich Young man
We have in the gospels, in all the synoptics the story of a young man who enquires about the conditions of gaining eternal life. The NT narrates many stories of encounter between Jesus and young people, both men and women. But the story of the rich young man deserves special mention and detailed investigation. The story is given in all the synoptic gospels. Therefore it is clear that Mark is the source of the story for the other two evangelists. In fact it is in Mark that the story exhibits remarkable details which make it one of the special contribution’s of the evangelist. Some of the special features of the Marcan version of the story are the following;
1. The encounter between Jesus and this young man happens on the way. Mark introduces the story by saying: “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him…”(Mark 10:17).
2. This story is immediately associated with the blessing of the children (Mk 1013-16) which in its turn is associated with the ques¬tion of divorce.
3. The entreaty of the man is in the kneeling position. This may point to his idea of Jesus as God because this is an homage given to God.
4. After the man’s affirmation that he has been keeping the law from his childhood and his query about what he lacks still, Jesus looks at him and loves him and then gives the further requirements for discipleship.
All these special features of the Marcan version of the story de¬mand explanation. Why is it connected with the setting out of Jesus on a journey? The Greek expression is ekporeownenou eis odon (as he was going forth on (the) way). In Mark the word odos (way) is theologically very important. It occurs a total of 17 times in the gospel. Jesus’ call to discipleship was intimately related to his life style as a man who was on the way”. He calls his disciples to follow him (Cf Mk 1:17,20; 2:14). This presupposes that Jesus was con¬stantly moving from place to place and the disciples had to follow him on his way. The picture of Jesus in Mk 10:32 is especially important “They were on the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. This verse gives a summary of what Jesus’ movement was and what the disciples’ role was in that movement. Coming to 10:17, the mention of Jesus on the way clearly shows that the episode narrated here has to do with discipleship. The man who approached Jesus was a pious man and also righteous from the sacrifice, Isaac was taken out of the altar and Jesus was raised from the dead. Both of them carry the instruments of their death-Isaac the fire wood for the burnt offering and Jesus the cross on which he was to be crucified. The parallelism is striking. Much more than all that is the fact, perhaps, both are pure in their blood.
2.2.3. The term ‘paradigm’ and Jesus Christ.
The term ‘paradigm’ means a typical example or pattern that makes a change. It also can be understood as a model that is to be imitated or followed. As per the word ‘Paradigm shift’ coined by Thomas Kuhn in his book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ would mean a substantial model which would replace another one, as Einstein’s Theory of relativity took over Newton’s physics . When we understand Jesus Christ as the Paradigm for youth, it means that the life and work of Jesus Christ remains as a substantial model/pattern for youth to imitate or to live. Jesus Christ replaced an old model and established a new role model for youth. He is the Paradigm that chal¬lenged the youth. Ever since his birth, his life was a challenge to the youth to be followed and to be imitated. He remains as a primordial paradigm that made a Paradigm shift in understanding human life and its identity.
2.2.4 Jesus Christ: The Original Paradigm for youth
Being youth is a blessing and something beautiful, the sense of loss and meaninglessness in life lead them into an experience of identity crisis in this modern world. To find a way out from this identity crisis and lead them into a sense of having meaning of life, the youth need to rely on faith and God-experience. They need to discover a sense of purpose, a sense of identity and a sense of belonging. They need a travelling companion like Jesus who travelled with the disciples to Emmaus. They need a compassionate and loving teacher who looked straight at a young man and loved him (Mk 10/ 22). They need a model to imitate and an archetype to follow. So Jesus Christ is the paradigm for youth, who can imitate and follow. The youth need to know who this wonderful person of Jesus Christ is. They need to understand who this man for all seasons is? They need to experience how the words and deeds of Jesus fulfilled the realization of human wholeness in God.
We know from the scripture and from history that one of the most difficult questions ever asked and tried to be answered is “Who do you say I am”. This question which we find in the Gospels of Mat¬thew and Mark (Mt 16:151 Mk 8:29) is a decisive question. St. Peter, the Apostle answered him, ‘You are the Christ’ (Mk 8/29). This con¬fession of faith by Peter thus came to be born, later to be evolved semantically into apposition “Jesus Christ, the anointed one”. Jesus Christ was fully human and fully divine. Being divine in nature, he clothed himself with humanity. It was the revelation of God that mani¬fested in Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ reveals not only the divinity to human persons; he reveals humanity to itself. He himself embodies the delicate interpretation of human contingency and full Godlikeness. And in revealing both, he redeems the broken passion of cre¬ated freedom ”
The life and message of Jesus inaugurated a new era in the his¬tory of mankind. His life achieved an ultimate fulfillment of history. He shows who the real human person is in his wholeness. “In Him Christians learn to discover who God really is, who human beings are, what is their true origin and destiny, the meaning and worth of their world and history, and the role of the Church as she accompanies humankind on its pilgrimage through ages.” Incarnation was an act of God’s love toward man so that man may realize that God has opened the ways through which he can have knowledge of God. Through the incarnation, Jesus Christ shared his divinity with human¬ity. His descent to the world opened the way for man’s ascent to the divine. It is in Jesus Christ the youth reach the fullness of their true power and destiny. By becoming human, God invites youth into a freely entered covenantal relationship through Jesus Christ and their humanness.
As in Jesus divinity has its fullness of revelation, in God-man, Jesus Christ is the Son incarnate. In the incarnation, Christ the perfect God became the perfect man so that the real image given to man is re¬vealed in Christ. So Christ is the creative and saving imago dei par excellence. And He is the image which (the Good One) erected in honor of himself. Hence the creation of man is the great work of God with all glory and dignity by which man should strive to be the true replica of God in his worldly existence. In his status as the imago imaginis dei, he is superior to other created beings. He is the privi¬leged being in creation. Jesus Christ thus represents the true image of God who came down to earth as a model image for humanity to attain its divinity. By his incarnation Jesus Christ restored man by paving the way for man’s union with God.
For the youth, Jesus Christ is the true image of God in whom they can discover their own image. It is in Jesus Christ they realize that they are the image of God and their life is something worth living and meaningful. Youth has the potential for perfection in Jesus Christ. So Jesus Christ is the original paradigm whose influence and model pen¬etrate to the depths of human personhood. “He calls us to embrace and affirm our incompletion in acts of believing, trusting, and caring for ourselves, for each other, and for the God beyond us who com¬pletes us only in our freely given covenant”. Christian life in this world is compared to a pilgrimage. It is a walk in a way. Jesus Christ is the way to the Father who stands beyond the mediator. The Gospel of John expresses it clearly when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). Jesus Christ is the way by which youth should travel. He is the way for humanity to reach the divine. In this way of life, Jesus who himself is the way accompany the youth as a compan¬ion and comforter. They should follow him in his footsteps. It is the challenge that awaits the youth. If the youth follow him as a paradigm for their vision of life then taking the challenges will not be hard or difficult.
In the Gospel we encounter a young man who wanted to follow Jesus Christ. The evangelist Mark (Mk 10/17-22) writes that this young man was a rich man. He was in search of eternal life and recognizes Jesus as master and asks question. He asks, Good Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life? But we see this young man leaves his search for eternal life halfway. Hearing that he should sell everything and then follow him made him sad and he went back. Jesus was not speaking about doing something but Jesus was inviting the young man to accept Him as the goal of his life for which he has to surrender everything. The young man found it is difficult and stopped his search. Quest for eternal life is a basic reality in the life of youth. But to leave everything for following Jesus is hard for the young people. Understanding this Jesus looked at this young man and loved him. The look that Jesus cast at this young man showed how great His love for him was. He did not love him only because he was young and enthusiastic, but also because he was a person. And in God’s eye every human being is a person worthy of attention and love. Jesus Christ is the original paradigm in whose eternal model or typical example that gives the young people new orientations in life to follow in his footsteps and to find meaning in life.
PRIEST AND HIS ROLE AMIDST THE MODERN YOUTH
3.1. Pastoral approach to the modern youth
All pastoral activities (indeed, all Christian ministry activities) are aimed at fulfilling needs: Both the perceived and actual needs of the people being ministered to. As Scripture is clear that our “target market” is to be the whole world, from our next door neighbor, our local community, city, country, and to the ends of the world (Matt. 28:18 – 20; Acts 1:8), we are called to minister to everyone.
A pastoral approach should concentrate on the holistic development of the person .It might consider the physical, social, psychological and religious growth of the person. Always youth is out of the main stream of the social activities. It is not due to the lack of interest but the social atmosphere keep them away from it and give the role of audience. This develops and anti social and irritated feeling in them and makes problems in the mind and body. So the pastor has to be with them. There are various opportunities for a pastor to involve them and seek suggestions from them. The spiritual and social assistance to them will result a great change and better future from them. The real model of Jesus starts not from the problems but they have to begin from the situations. But unfortunately, the priest is not so much ready to be with them. It causes for the fall of youth. The tremendous changes in the world affect the youth in a negative way. Here the approach of Jesus challenges the pastors in their approach to youth. Priests should recognize their role amidst the modern youth.
As the world changes personal and social problems are increasing, how can a pastor console and lead youth to a normal mature life? The pastor is to shepherd God’s flock. He is to do so not begrudgingly feeling compelled to do so, but voluntarily, willingly according to I Peter 5, 2. Shepherding should be one of the most desirable and gratifying areas of his ministry. This ability should flow out from a genuine desire to serve. I Peter 5, 3 assure that a pastor is called to the position of a leadership. Preaching is the important task of a pastor. It is not only through words but also through the deeds. He has to guide and lead the people to the happiness and peace.
Young people and adolescents are necessary part of the society. Emotions play a vital role in forming a person’s personality. The pastor can help the youth to overcome emotional problems through various activities like prayer, social atmosphere etc. Thus a well settled person is produced. A priest can form a vision of life in youth. It is possible only through the incessant contact and good relation with the youth.
Youth is the period of energetic and revolutionary expressions. Youth are active but powerless. The pastor should accept and consider them. A pastor can win them through real love, affection and due respect. As Jesus forgives and tolerates Peter, a pastor too should do so.
Whenever a pastor fails to understand the weakness and problems of young people, he has nothing to do. Sincere encouragement and support to the youth would help to produce better results in them. Inter-personal relationships, understanding, supporting and consoling, correcting and instructing, encouraging, being with them, rewarding etc. can help to win them. This would help to provide mental freedom and spiritual growth. When a pastor uses the spiritual resources it may strengthen them in true Christian faith and Christian values. When the youth recognize that they are wanted for the up-liftment of society they will become producers of more fruits. Here pastor’s role and approach is not an administrative leadership. But it is a service-minded and voluntary leadership of selfless love and emptiness as the master did.
3.2. Youth Ministry
Young people are the easiest to reach with the gospel of Christ. This is not only stated in Scripture (Ecc. 12:1; Prov. 22:6), but is also an empirical fact. Most Christians made a commitment of some sort to Christ before they were twenty years of age. Therefore, if the church’s goal is to reach people for Christ, then it would make sense that a large amount of time, energy and resources be put into ministering to young people, who are more open to the Gospel, and who make up the majority of the population in our country.
In a world that is so busy, and demands so much of all of its inhabitants, young people need a secure environment, where they can experiment and decide who they want to be. They need significant people to be there to help them through this process. They need role model to follow.
Young people are not just “little adults”. They are complex individuals who are battling to deal with the awesome transformation of their bodies, minds, and emotions. They are in a time of transition and growth, developing from the birthed bundle of potential to a fully integrated, functional member of society. The church is in a unique position to assist in this process. “The purpose of youth ministry is to point youth toward God and help them become involved in the Great Commission” . Youth ministry is, building relationship with young people in order to lead them to a lasting relationship with and commitment to God. Youth ministry includes Listening, Leading, Teaching, Supporting, Understanding, Writing, Reading, Encouraging involvement, Counseling, Modeling, being taught, Being available, Motivating, Phoning and Creating Community.
Jesus’ ministry is the supreme example for all pastoral positions. For youth ministry, in particular, we must concentrate on Jesus’ incarnational ministry. He was prepared to get alongside people, He made them feel significant, He gave of Himself, looking to their potential, helping them through their failures. This is the goal of youth ministry – to help young people become mature in Christ.
3.3. The Role of the Full-Time Youth Pastor
Duffy Robbins has listed four essential qualities that must be present in a person who desires to point young people to Christ, in whom all their needs will be met. These are:
1. Diligence (“being faithful to invest whatever gifts God has given us to maximize our impact for Him”; Matt. 25:22 – 23)
2. Stability (“the ability to stay with a work over the long haul, the ability to stay put when the going gets tough”; 1 Cor. 15:58)
3. Vision (foresight and insight, “looking beyond the negatives to see the positives that only God could see”; John 18:15 – 27; 21:15 – 19)
4. Integrity (“God must be the first priority of our schedule” )
3.4. Youth Services
A vital part of the youth work in a church is handing responsibility over to the young people. One way of doing this is to have youth services, which would involve youth at all levels. These may range from an FBH(family Bible hour) service, where the children assist in the service and possibly lead the worship, to a service fully planned and led by the teenagers and young adults. The youth pastor will obviously have a role to play in co-coordinating these services, and ensuring that the young people are fully involved and do so in a meaningful and acceptable way.
Interaction with Young People
The youth pastor needs to be interacting with young people, chatting to them, welcoming new people and making himself available to assist those who require it. As already pointed out Jesus’ ministry was incarnational- He spent time with people (cf. John 1:14a). The core of any ministry of nurture is relationships.
Activities after Services
At a number of churches activities organized after the services on a Sunday are particularly attractive for young adults. These can be made more meaningful than simply a social around the TV and some eats. The youth pastor must co-ordinate activities that allow opportunities for WAP (Worship and Praise), Wrap (discussing the sermon and issues arising from it) and Chat groups (the socializing aspect is vital), as well as socials, meals and sports.
An important role of the youth pastor is to form part of the pastoral and leadership visitation team in the church. He must not only visit young people at home and at school, but should also be willing to visit families and parents as well. The youth pastor must ensure that these times are meaningful by taking the initiative to start conversations and asking leading questions. The emphasis is on relationships, not just hanging out.
Families have unparalleled influence on the development of their children’s lives and character. Because of this, youth pastors (and, in fact, the entire church leadership team) must continually be assisting families to develop and grow. Healthy families are the basis of healthy community, something that the church should be encouraging and developing. Youth pastors obviously have a vital role to play, as they work closest with the children of families. There are a number of regular activities that the youth pastor could organize, including, parent’s support groups, parent/family training evenings, family youth group activities (where parents and children are involved), parents’ newsletters, family visitation and counseling and coordinating practical help.
Involvement Local Schools and Youth Centers
Wherever possible the youth pastor should become involved in local schools, colleges, children’s homes, day care centers, youth centers, etc., as these are key points of contact with the community. Where such activities do not exist in the community (e.g. after school care centers), the church may consider providing such a service. This would be an important avenue of outreach for the youth-ministry.
Even in seemingly trivial and “a-spiritual” matters, it is essential that the youth pastor demonstrate to the young people that the Gospel extends to their entire lives. Where young people are battling emotionally, physically, mentally, etc., the youth pastor should be able to offer assistance. This will mean involvement from sports coaching to offering extra lessons to crisis counseling. This can be done at the church or through local organizations and schools. Obviously the youth pastor may not be skilled or have enough time for all of these activities, but should be actively involved in setting them up and co-ordinate them.
Building Relationships with Youth and Youth Leaders
Most of the above-mentioned activities involve relationship-building in some way. Quality youth ministry is built on the foundation of meaningful relationships. Beyond all the hype and flashy programs, it’s the relationships with kids that measure an outstanding youth group Obviously, the youth pastor cannot have a meaningful relationship with every young person in the church, but it is his responsibility to ensure that each young person has access to mature Christians with whom quality relationships are possible. This will involve motivating discipleship relationships, organizing surrogate “parents” and adults to be involved in the youth groups, facilitating support and accountability structures, and working with the other pastors and leaders to co-ordinate the resources of the church to assist young people in their time of growing up.
Co-ordinating and Integrating Youth Ministries
The youth activities of most churches are autonomous ministries that operate with independent methods and objectives. Because of this, most young people who leave the church do so during a transition period (i.e. between Primary and High School, between teen and young adult ministries, between college and career, etc.). If the youth ministries of the church had an integrated approach that worked consistently and interdependently from birth to young adulthood, this may be minimized. The goal of developing mature Christians should always be the focus. The youth pastor is therefore the shepherd of the youth in the church.
Integrating Young People into the life of the Church
One of the primary goals of youth ministry is to produce mature Christians who will serve within the local church. The youth pastor must assist in creating opportunities and channels for involvement of young people in the life of the church, and for the integration of youth ministries into the broader church ministries. For example, youth mission trips should co-ordinate through the church missions committee, and not be run independently. The young people should feel that they have an important place in the church, and are not an isolated group sitting on the sidelines of “real” ministry.
Worship and Music
One of the main goals of a good youth ministry program should be to develop an understanding of and enthusiasm for worship. One of the most common factors in churches with successful youth ministries is that the church truly worships. This is not to say that the young people are always accommodated in worship style, but that there exists in the church an attitude of worshipping in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23). The youth pastor should actively promote worship groups, drama teams, youth choirs, while also teaching on worship, motivating worship in youth groups, and helping the church to accommodate the young people’s style of worship into the life of the church.
Identifying and Tracking Youth Trends
A young priest is the qualified “expert” on young people. As he grows older, and the distance between his own youthfulness and the young people grows, he will need to work harder at understanding and relating to young people. As the modern world continues to change at an ever-increasing pace, the church must continue to make its message relevant. In this aspect of the church’s mission to the world, the young people can lead the way.
When all is said and done, like any full-time Christian ministry, the job of a youth pastor is never done – he is always on call. As Fields says, “Availability is next to Godliness”. Youth pastors must be good listeners, with open hearts and open homes. The young people of the church must know that there is someone who will always listen to them, always be there for them, someone who they can trust.
3.5. Counseling – A Blanket Remedy
Central to the component of Individual Pastoral Care is the care of the individual: in his/her inner life and spiritual growth, in his/her interaction with the world and in his/her coping with the stresses of life.
The pastor can be involved with his parishioners by prayer, by preaching and teaching, by fellowship through the community of the saints, by visitations and by counseling. Hence counseling is one of the many methods available to the pastor in carrying out Individual Pastoral Care.
Counseling provides young persons with a safe and confidential space in which to express their emotions, become aware of and deal with their feelings, develop deeper and new understanding of themselves, their choices and behaviors.
3.5.1. Priests and Counseling
Priest is the model of Jesus Christ. Priest has to represent Jesus amidst the world. Though there is a new emphasis on the role of priest as a counselor, pastoral counseling is not new. It is as old as the ministry. But now in the modern world, the role and importance is increasing. They never can be replaced by the psychological professionals. The pastor has a duty to fulfill among the people especially among youth. The contemporary situations and circumstances leads the youth to great disastrous situations of crisis. This not only affects the youth but also all the categories of life.
In the first chapter we discussed problems of youth due to the tremendous changes occurring in the world. The changes in social and technical realm influence the psychological and religious attitudes of man. By the fast growth of world there arose problem in the sphere of personal relationships and family life. The eagerness to jump up to the world of fascination people concentrated on the self and this affected the interpersonal relationships. So the most important goal of the pastoral approach and counseling should help to reestablish the loosing value of inter personal relationships. It includes both person to person and person to God.
By the influence of media secularization, urbanization, the mental conditions of people especially youth has changed. In this critical occasion priests have to deal human behavior, values, interpersonal relations, attitudes, behavior, and mental problems like guilt, anxiety and depression. As we know all human beings are shaped by developmental and environmental factors, the use of psychological analysis can greatly increase the accuracy of the effort of pastoral counseling to mediate the transformative resources of the Christian faith. It is God’s activity that includes pastor’s empathy, acceptance, reflections, constancy, and interpretations.
Jesus is the role model of pastor. The pastoral approach should be built on the method of Jesus because the method includes different modern methods of counseling. On the basis of the previous chapter it is clear that the real solution starts from the understanding and recognition of the case. A pastor should start from the understanding and the recognition of the cause. A priest should start from the fundamental cause of the problem. Here the priest has a great chance to deal it than any other because pastors’ duty is to be with people as Jesus was. Jesus was with the people. He understood the problems of them, because he emptied himself to the level of poor and needy. Priest has to leave the comfort and stand on foot amidst the people. But he should be aware who he is. This can help recognize the reality and solve the problems. It is not for the solution but for the prevention of the problems. As Jesus warned Peter a pastor should warn and correct the people
When a pastor practices counseling, he is utilizing the insight and techniques of the various schools of counseling. An important difference from ‘secular’ counseling is the element of the supernatural. A pastor can call upon the resources of a supernatural God that is interested in the daily working of our life. He can also utilize the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as the gift of knowledge, gift of discernment and gift of wisdom in his counseling practice.
3.5.2. The Goal of the Priest Counselor
Priestly counsel based on the natural knowledge alone cannot deal with all the problems of the human life. All of those must be met by Christ – possession in the priest, so that he is restless to open to hearts the treasures of God’s goodness; to disclose sin that it may be redeemed; to leave the ninety – nine just to seek the one that is lost; to ferret out leaders and train them in the apostolate and the making of conversions; to wrap about people the mantle of the Sacred Heart; to listen without interruption to the distressed, recognizing the dignity of the person who speaks; to reconcile husband with wife by revealing to them how they can sanctify one another, as St. Paul did for the unhappy couples of Corinth(1 Cor 7 :14); to act in such a way that two tides meet in his priestly heart as they met at Bethlehem : the tide of human need and the tide of divine fulfillment; to look at the fallen – away Catholics as Our Lord looked on Peter and drove him to tears (Lk 22 :61); to make the people think as they leave the parlor, that they have been with Christ; to understand that the Holy Spirit gives strength to those who spend it; to recognize that as there is no beauty in the slothful animal, so there is no power in the slothful priest; to pray daily to the Holy Spirit to teach him to find enjoyment only in souls; to be convinced that he cannot reach a sinner with the fingertip of parochial organization or raise one soul to sanctify with a lavish expenditure of cheap advice; never to hesitate to receive a visitor for the sake of his own comfort, knowing that God gives him no reward without the dust of toil. In short he must ‘another Christ’ .
3.5.3. Priest the counselor differs from others
Priestly counseling is basically the application of the redemption to the individual. It is not just preaching to one person instead of preaching to a crowed, for in counseling the individual presents his problem as does a patient to a doctor. The priest establishes the facts, as the doctor does, then he presents his diagnosis and the treatment, always mindful of the words of Our Lord : “Only the Spirit gives life, the flesh is of no avail, and the words that I have been speaking to you are Spirit and Life” (John 6:64)
The Spirit is particularly important when the priest is dealing with a problem of behavior rather than an intellectual problem. In almost nine cases out of ten, those who have once had the faith but now reject it or claim that it does not make sense are driven not by reasoning but by the way they are living. Catholics usually fall away not from any difficulty with the Creed, but from some difficulty with the Commandments. When this happens, the priest’s task is to arouse the conscience through the Spirit. There is not much reference to the conscience alone in the Scripture, but there is abundant testimony that the conscience is aroused by the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul tells us that it was his conscience that was illumined by the Holy Spirit, making him ready to be doomed in order to save his brethren: “I am telling you the truth in Christ’s name, with the full assurance of a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 9:1)
It is never enough for a priest to tell his people that they must follow their conscience; he must constantly seek the illumination of their conscience by the Spirit. Many who approach a priest still try to conceal their conscience. They offer spurious reasons to explain their actions. The priest who remains on a purely psychological level cannot always see through such deceits, and in consequence he cannot help the one who has come to him. It takes a spiritual X ray to penetrate such a mind .
3.5.4. Counseling through sympathy
Compassion is identification with others, whether they be laughing or weeping. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with the mourner” (Romans 12: 15). Such a heart – unity with the woes of others, as parable of the Good Samaritan teaches, is independent of our natural feeling. The wedding and the funerals in the parish, the converts and the fallen away, the faithful young and the juvenile delinquents, the bigots and the men of good will – to all of these the sympathy of Christ goes out in the priest as he fulfills the words of St. Paul: “Bear the burden of one another’s failings; then you will be fulfilling the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Such a priest will express a special sympathy on sick calls to those who suffer. No priest can sympathize who is “outside” the suffering of others. “Crucifixion with Christ”, through zeal and work and self – denial, will enlighten others by reminding them that Our Lord carried His scars with Him to heaven. When, therefore, He lays His hand affectionately on any heart, He leaves the impression of His nails. The sick will be assured that their sufferings are not a punishment for their own sins so much as an opportunity to join in reparation for the sins of the world .
3.6. How to Approach the Young Counselees
Youth pastors may know the basics of youth ministry – they may understand contemporary society and youth culture; understand the development of children, teenagers and young adults; have a good philosophy that includes programming at each commitment level; they may have excellent leadership structures and effectively manage themselves and their volunteers; they may be effective at evangelism and discipleship – but they may still find that they lose more youth than they keep because they don’t care for young people as they should.
Many youth pastors do not know how to counsel youth through the touch issues they face, how to help youth navigate the battleground that was once called home, how to help youth who are slaves to addictions, etc. It is essential that youth pastors learn how to counsel and care for youth.
Effective ministry is achieved as youth pastors meet the real needs of youth by spending time with them, listening to them, supporting them as they struggle through the transition from childhood to adulthood
Two foundational prerequisites to counseling the young client are:
1) Understanding your client’s development level
2) Building rapport and establishing trust with your client
Understanding Your Client’s Development Level
Understanding your client’s development level is key to the overall success of your representation, as well as to your ability to effectively counsel your client. It is important to bear in mind that chronological age is a poor predictor of a child’s abilities. Instead, the client’s developmental level–a dynamic composite including the client’s level of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and academic growth–is more insightful. Once you understand your client’s limits and capabilities based on developmental level, you can devise appropriate, informed strategies for effective communication and counseling. A good grasp of a client’s developmental level also facilitates a collaborative working relationship and can keep clients from becoming frustrated, discouraged, oppositional, and/or uncooperative.
Building Rapport And Establishing Trust With Your Client
Dozens of studies have provided evidence of the importance of an empathic therapeutic relationship in achieving positive outcomes in general. The importance of an empathic relationship is also vitally important for defiant and difficult youth and is probably the pivotal point that determines eventual success or failure in counseling. Scorr identified strong relationships based on mutual trust and respect as one of the seven attributes of highly effective prevention programs. Yalom’s observation,”It is the relationship that heals”, is entirely applicable to defiant youth .
Therapeutic change in one form or another is of course a major goal of all counseling. There is some evidence that a therapeutic relationship itself will produce some change in youth. A counseling technique performed without a properly established empathic and trusting relationship seems to many youth to be a threat to their integrity, and just another covert or overt adult attempt at manipulation. On the other hand, if a technique is well executed by the counselor a positive result can further enhance the relationship.
For the building of a rapport it’s imperative to listen or to attend to the person. Most likely you’ve heard this statement from one or more of your students: “No one ever listens to me.” It’s common and also very true. The most important counseling technique does not need to be done by a professional. Young people will know that you are taking them seriously and will open up their lives to you if they know you will listen to them. Listening is the real language of love.
Youngsters do not always need to immediately hear the right answer as much as they need an atmosphere of openness in which they genuinely feel that you are actively listening. Listening communicates value and significance to your client. It lets them know that they are of worth to you. Listening opens doors for them to be ready to hear the advice that they need. It’s been said: “People who give students their ears, capture their hearts.”
One of the first things to recognize about the youth is that often they have been deprived of people who can serve as models of how to appropriately interact with and relate to others. Thus the defiant adolescent is often heavily self-absorbed and feels that there is virtually no difference between adults and children. The idea of reaching them is important and it refers to attaining contact beyond the boundaries of ego-centric self-absorption. It also refers to traversing the barriers common to youth. In a sense, youth itself can be viewed as a unique culture, and adopting a multicultural perspective in working with this type of client is essential.
It is important for the counselor to communicate the acceptance of client. Even though behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are seen as needing change, the person-the ”I” behind the eyes as Gendlin put it – can be unconditionally accepted. This can be communicated to the client with statements such as “I like you even when you screw up” or “I can sense the goodness in you regardless of your attitude and behaviors. “Youth who have heard only how “bad” they are will be amazed and touched by this approach.
Relate to them
How the counselor relates to or interacts with the youth can have a critical influence on therapeutic outcomes. Part of the problem is recognizing that youth will sometimes defiantly reject help and at other times humbly seek it.
The need for autonomy and freedom
An amazingly consistent issue is the desire and need for freedom and autonomy. Defiant aggressive youth are remarkably and vehemently insistent on their own freedom and autonomy. Church found that successful counselors acknowledge and respect this need for freedom and that when adolescents are treated in this way, they are more likely to ask for direction and guidance. Working with this human developmental need can provide means of motivating clients by reframing counseling as a way of attaining freedom-that which they already want.
Freedom, from an existential perspective, comes in four modalities -freedom-to, freedom-from, freedom-with, and freedom-for: all of which are applicable to counseling. However the first two are especially relevant to establishing relationships with youth. Freedom-to apply to a range of options and choices in life. Freedom-from relates to being released from difficulties and constraints.
Much of what defiant youth are attempting in life is along these lines. Counseling can be presented as an aid. For example, counseling can provide freedom-from in that it can help to release a person from emotional hurt and pain disturbing memories and poor self esteem. Counseling can provide freedom-to when presented as a means to develop the awareness to learn ways of coping with difficult people and situations and with danger as well. Acting out is one of the most troubling characteristics of youth can be reframed as a loss of freedom. This can be done by suggesting that the issue or person that one is defiantly reacting to or blaming has control of one’s life at that moment. Freedom therefore is not only a need and desire but can be promoted as a goal of self-control.
The freedom approach can be highly effective when combined with developing awareness. Awareness and freedom are closely related. Awareness is also a major aspect of the therapeutic change process. For youth, awareness can be attractively framed by using the youth “language of the day”. In the new millennium one would point out that the “cool” people seem to have a way of being aware of what is going around them. Counseling can be promoted as a way of learning how to be more aware and in the process becoming more popular and even admired by the peers. The best means to achieving the youth goal of being happy and carefree is through counseling.
Actually most youth are in fact in desperate need of freedom. They are “stuck” in families characterized by interpersonal pain and chaos, in which loved ones have been hurt and extreme stress is present almost every day. To a large degree they cannot choose their schools or their life circumstances. From their perspective freedom and autonomy are not so much a defiant rebellion as much as an ideal that represents an escape from a form of imprisonment and helplessness. To suggest that a defiant, aggressive youth has no freedom when they act out typically elicits protest, but when issued as a challenge the youth will often work hard to attain the feeling of freedom sought by so many of the young people.
Working with youth can be a source of joy and hope rather than frustration, but it is important that one genuinely likes youth and want to focus on this age group. Its best to take a theoretically integrative approach making use of behavioral, cognitive, existential, Gestalt, feminist, multicultural and family systems approaches. It’s also found to be helpful to make use of a wide range of counseling modalities. Some respond best to individual counseling, others to group and still some others seem to do best in family settings. In many cases they can benefit from all three modalities. Some professionals claim that individual counseling is no longer appropriate for schools or agencies because of a lack of time and resources. But this does not change the fact that many youth are in desperate need of and ask for individual attention from an empathetic adult.
Finally working with youth requires wisdom. Such wisdom includes deep insight into the human condition, self awareness, dialectical thinking, problem-solving skills, advanced empathy, clinical intuition, proper timing, and recognition of culture and context. It also requires perspicacity in the sense of being able to ‘see through” deceptions, lies and manipulations. Although it is not an easy path for the counselor to tread the lessons learned are remarkably valuable and rewarding for counselor and client alike.
3.7. Methods of Counseling
There are various counseling methods. Here the study concentrates on the four methods such as Supportive Care and Counseling, Crisis Care and Crisis Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, Bereavement Care and Counseling, and Educational Counseling.
3.7.1. Supportive Care and Counseling
In supportive care and counseling, the pastor uses methods that stabilize, undergird, nurture, motivate, or guide troubled persons- enabling them to handle their problems and relationships more constructively within whatever limits are imposed by their personality resources and circumstances. Here the pastor makes more use of guidance, information, reassurance, inspiration, planning, asking and answering questions, and encouraging or discouraging certain forms of behavior. Supportive methods are used in several other types of pastoral counseling. They play a key role in crisis caring and bereavement counseling .
How does supportive counseling relate to general pastoral care for youth? Supportive pastoral relationships are integral to the entire pastoral care ministry. A caring relationship becomes supportive counseling when counseling methods are employed to help the youth cope with a particular problem or crisis. Like the reinforcing steel in concrete, these methods are used at stress points to strengthen and enhance the helpfulness of ongoing supportive care-giving.
3.7.2. Crisis Care and Crisis Counseling
In the crisis ministry the role of pastors as awakeners of meaning and realistic hope is crucially important. Their unique function, as spiritual growth-enablers, is to help crisis-stricken people discover the ultimate meaningfulness of life lived in relationship with God whose steadfast love is always available, even in the midst of terrible tragedy.
People in crisis often move back and forth between needing supportive care and needing the skills of crisis counseling as they make difficult decisions. The general ministry of pastoral caring is a ministry of presence, listening, warmth, and practical support. Short-term crisis counseling, informal or formal, is needed by persons who could mobilize their coping resources more quickly, and handle their crises more constructively with some help in reality-testing and in planning effective approaches to the new situation created by the crisis .
How does the crisis care and counseling relate to youth?
Caplan distinguishes two categories of crises: developmental and accidental. Human growth is the result of meeting a series of developmental crises successfully. Developmental crises are normal for youth in the sense that they happen as an integral part of all or many people’s growth. Accidental crises can occur at any age, precipitated by unexpected losses of what one regards as essential sources of need satisfaction. Especially when they happen to the youth who expect everything to be perfect for them it might cripple them emotionally. Crises happen in people rather than to them, but they tend to occur in high-stress, emotionally hazardous situations
How can ministers create opportunities during their pastoral contacts, for care-giving conversations, informal and formal counseling? First, they can maintain a confidential, up-to-date “Special Help List”. Second, a pastor’s sensitivity to the subtle signs of distress is an asset in spotting potential counseling opportunities. The third way to open up informal and formal counseling opportunities is the judicious use of “openers” – questions or statements designed to interrupt superficial conversation and provide an opening for people to discuss their real feelings and issues if they choose. Fourth way is listening and responding to feelings, during pastoral encounters help carry a conversation to the level of person’s real needs.
3.7.3. Bereavement Care and Counseling
Grief is involved in all significant changes, losses, and life transitions, not just in the death of a loved person. There is evidence that many psycho-physiological (psychosomatic) illnesses are related to unhealed grief. The same is true of much alcoholism and other addictive illnesses (including food addiction). Blocked, unfinished grief takes a heavy toll, sapping one’s creative juices. The longer the healing is delayed, the more costly the protracted grief is to the person’s wholeness
The way people respond to losses varies greatly depending on their own resources, the quality and length of the relationship, the timeliness of the loss, whether the death was expected, and the nature of the death. If one fails to recover the grief the minister’s role is to cooperate with the psyche’s inner process of recovery. During this shock phase, effective caring includes using supportive care methods, including gratifying dependency needs.
Severe losses activate the inner Child, often bringing painful feelings of anxiety, deprivation, and abandonment. The need to be comforted is intense. Acts of ministry, including familiar scripture, prayers, hymns, and rituals often bring quiet comfort to the bereaved. Both physical touch and gifts of food are symbolic nonverbal ways of communicating caring and nurture. The grief recovery team should surround the grieving individual and family with the supportive caring they need. The individual should feel the support in a way of saying, “we can and must go on together. ”
3.7.4. Marriage and Family Counseling
In 1860, only one in every thousand marriages ended in divorce each year. Today, approximately one in every fifty ends in divorce. Overall about one-third of marriages ends in divorce. At a typical counseling center, half of those coming for counseling come primarily because of marital conflicts and another one-quarter come because of marital-related conflicts. The youth in whose development, the family plays a major role find the disturbances within and with the family a threat and most often react negatively either by freaking out or getting depressed .
The goals of family counseling are as follows:
(1) To resolve interpersonal conflicts and to help a couple agree or disagree constructively.
(2)To improve communication between family members.
(3)To encourage each individual to meet the emotional needs of the mate.
(4)To clarify role relations.
(5)To build Christian values in the family.
(6)To strengthen the ability of each member to cope in a healthy manner with stresses .
3.7.5. Educational Counseling
Educative counseling goes far beyond merely imparting information. By utilizing counseling skills and sensitivities helps the person understand, evaluate and then apply the information that is relevant to constructive coping with his particular life situations. There are of course, educative ingredients in almost all pastoral counseling. In types such as supportive, decision-oriented and marriage counseling, educative aspects play a significant part. The concept of ‘educative counseling’ helps to resolve the unnecessary conflict, in some minister’s minds, between their roles as counselors and as procaine’s of the gospel. It becomes “educative” as it moved toward three goals; (1) Discovering what facts, concepts, values, beliefs, skills, guidance or advice are needed by the person or likely to be helpful in coping with his problems; (2) communicating these directly or helping the person then (3) helping the person utilize this information to enhance not understanding, facilitate a wise decision or handle a difficult situation constructively.
It is only to be expected that many students will have academic problems. This may be due to lack of ability – a lack of funds, a lack of motivation. There are many reasons why students drop out of school. Some were disturbed by personal and family problems, some attempted too many other activities, and some had a work load that was too heavy. Each person has his own reasons.
The good educational counselor must be able to diagnose and determine whether academic difficulty is due to limitations of a ability, a lack of motivation, inappropriate goals, ignorance of study procedures, personal or emotional involvements, reading disabilities or any one of a number of other causes or combination of causes that might be present. Then the counselor must work through with the student on educational program that meets his needs, is in line with his interests and is directed toward his goals and purposes. He must help the student move toward with an optimum of satisfaction and efficiency. If the pastor can be the means of letting them express their frustrations, discouragements and hostilities and can encourage them to accept guidance.
Educative counseling skills are invaluable assets in dealing constructively with social problems and challenges such as the brotherhood revolution. Paul E. Johnson declares; “The pastor in our world is called to a ministry of reconciliation within the tight walls of the small family or wherever there is conflict in the larger family of man.” Small study action groups offer an ideal setting within which accurate information can be presented on a given social conflict, and an opportunity provided for emotionally charged attributes to be examined in the light of the religious view of man.
Pastoral work which combines the skills of the creative educator and the effective counselor can be an invaluable instrument in the church’s prophetic ministry. “Educative counseling can help reduce the misinformation, fear and prejudice which block the learning of constructive attitudes and the forming of now relationships.”
3.8. Comparison between the Methods of Jesus and Modern Psychological Methods.
There are various similarities between the modern psychological method and approach of Jesus to the disciples. In both there is a need to satisfy the needs in a psychological way, to give support, care, lead to acceptance of world of reality, holistic relief from grief, give true awareness etc. are the similarities of both methods. In Educative method giving of information and knowledge is essential. It leads to the normal life. In marriage counseling age community the counselor tries to solve the problem among the family and make good communication among them. Jesus creates relation to the God and men through his approach. He reveals the truth and corrects His followers. In both approaches there is a role of consolation and supporting. Both methods are preparing the individuals to face the reality and overcome the crises and pains of life. Psychological methods and Jesus’ approach can change the life situation, style and attitude towards life. The aim and goal of both methods are, in a partial way, to solve the problems of the human mind and provide a better life.
There are few differences in the approach of Jesus. Jesus approach is on the pastoral view or on the basis of shepherding. It is not a superficial relation between the patient and counselor. There is an internal relationship on the basis of providential care for the holistic growth of the person. The relation between the Jesus and disciple does not begin after the problem of the person. Jesus observes and understands the circumstances and backgrounds of the Peter before he falls into the mental trouble. Because Jesus stands here not as mere counselor but as a person who eagerly lives for the comfort of physical and mental set up of the man. Jesus’ approach aims at the permanent cure of the man. He begins rapport in his call or invitation. So Jesus leads the person not to solve the problems but to prevent the problems which can create mental and physical disturbances. Jesus is a counselor who is always with the person who suffers; Jesus’ method of approach has the incessant presence and closeness to the needy. Jesus’ method prevents the areas of crisis not due to the elimination of circumstances and escapism but the change of attitudes to the situation. Even the crisis should consider experiencing the grace of God.
In modern psychological methods the counselor uses the spiritual guidelines and scriptures as an aid to solve the problem. Here Jesus himself becomes the solution of problems. The constant presence, affection, love, guidelines through words and deeds, encouragement and invitation leads man to the normal life and an extra ordinary life of happiness or joy. Jesus’ method was the best pastoral method to approach the people because a pastor has to live with the people and he has to understand and join with the problems of the people who are neglected, wounded, lives in lack of affection, care and love, suffers from the crisis of day today life etc.
In words of James” Youth is the joy, the little bird that has broken out of the eggs and is eagerly waiting to spread out its wings in the open sky of freedom and hope.” Youth is the spring of Life. It is the age of discovery and dreams. “Young people are our biggest asset and greatest hope,” stated Cardinal Oswald Gracias, during the 29th plenary assembly of the CBCI, 2010, which discussed on the theme ‘Youth for Peace and Harmony. “The future belongs to the youth” or “the youth are the pillars of the country” are common phrases in popular discourse. India never forgets the very popular slogan of Swami Vivekananda, “Give me 100 energetic young people, I shall transform India .”
Despite the fact that the youth has a lot of potentials to construct the course of history and society positively the vast potential for young people to further contribute to their communities goes largely untapped and the youth and their contributions are frequently overlooked, with young voices going unheard. Even more regrettably, all too often, they are portrayed in a negative light. Media headlines highlight only the seamy side of the youth and their behavior by projecting drug and alcohol abuse among youth, teen pregnancy, the rise in youth gangs, or school dropout rates and while shrouding their good contributions to society in darkness. There should be an attitudinal change in the common perception of the youth and attempts to establish that, optimism in the approach to the youth has the potential to utilize the youth for the constructive formation of society.
To work with or to live with young people is always challenging and rewarding at the same time. It requires immense patience and unwavering trust and energy. We should never fail to remember that adults as well as young people approach the relationship with certain degree of caution (this includes even the relationship between young children and the adult parents) because there are several preconceived notions about each other that could result in conflicts.
The adults accuse the young of going after the film stars, cricketers and politicians. They are afraid that their kids will be easily misled. But we should never forget that the society had not offered true, sincere and committed personals to be role models for the young generation. What they witness is only corruption, insincerity, dishonesty and what not… thus; the youth go after available recourse, like cheap film stars or substandard politician. They need better role models to look up to and follow.
To conclude, the youth are not the mysteries to be discovered rather they are craving to be loved and to be understood. Today, there is a plethora of choices in almost everything. The steady diet of information available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through a whole variety of channels is playing a major role in shaping this new generation. This is a generation with million possibilities. Because of technology and the freedom they enjoy, some will inevitably fall by the wayside but most of them will take it in their stride and grabbing the opportunities they grow faster and we, the adults also need to grow faster with them to understand them better. This is a generation that we should not take for granted; and it is a generation about which we should not be judgmental. Only thing we should do is try to understand them. Young people are not just little adults. They are young people that need the love, guidance, training, discipline and security that those who are older are obligated to provide. Once given those things it is up to them to walk accordingly. God has given the young parents for some reason. It is past time for many of us to find what those reasons are and get on with the divine task of rearing the young in God’s way. It is not enough to simply tell the young, “Don’t, don’t, don’t.” There must be the provision for the good that they can and should do. The problems are too big for the inexperienced and untrained youth to handle alone. Possibly we need to “get off his back” and “walk by his side.” Every child deserves the teaching of Christ and a Christlike example. That is the only solution to youth’s problems. Be a “solution,” not a “source” of problems.
A basic principle of fruitful existence for any organi¬zation is a periodic updating and a constant renewal. The church, which is to be semper reformanda – ever to be reformed – should always, be ready to renew and lis¬ten, accept and update and this exercise makes her young. Together with this, her mission towards the young, her readiness to involve youth in her life, will also be important in presenting the church with a youthful face. The youth (and not so young, but young in spirit) who followed Christ when they received “power from on high”, devoted themselves to an ideal vision of a pattern of living that the faithful and the not so faithful of all hues have tried to replicate, over millennia. Spirit filled instruction, deep and joyful friendship, reliving of the sacred memory of the Master’s self-giving act and moments in the presence of the eternal are to be our focal points today .
Called to present what is enduring in the context of the ephemeral, not as against it, but sometimes even in the form of it, as incarnating in it, Church challenges youth to see a vision and live it. A genuine vision of the Church invariably fascinates the youth and makes them active collaborators in it, in accordance with what the Council desired that “it may bring to all men that light of Christ which shines visibly from the Church”. What you love truly, you will live for deeply. What is the kind of the Church that the youth love? When they find such a community they will live and die for it.
For the Church to bridge the gap between life in the church and the modern world with its dynamics the active participation and leadership of youth is vital. The crucial challenge is how to ensure the formation and active participation of such youth missionaries. Youth in itself is con¬sidered as a special treasure of a young man or woman, and most often it is lived by young people as a specific treasure. In this very important conceptualization of youth, we can trace the source and foundation for youth ministry. If youth is growth, all possible support and as¬sistance must be given by the society for the youth to grow to maturity.
The adult and the peer community have to be prepared to accompany the youth in their journey of growth. Preparing the families and com¬munities to receive and to utilize this precious youth treasure is the greatest challenge we are facing today. Like John the Baptist there should be people to show the youth right path and give them proper guidance. Church and church leaders play an important role in this area. Down to the centuries the leaders of the Church in their endeavor to bring the youth into the mainstream of the Church have opened the way for different movements to help the youth. The World Youth Day, initiated by Pope John Paul II has attracted great attention of the youth worldwide. Every other year the youth of the world gather in an important city, share their experiences and concerns in their pursuit to follow Christ in their day to day lives. Jesus Youth, a movement started by and maintained by the youth, is attracting a lot of interest in the leadership of the Church. In short the proper guidance to the youth, especially in the faith formation is necessary. And thus we will be able to say ‘the lives of these young people have become the books written by the hand of God as gospels for the world of today .’
The aim of youth ministry is not tied to faith formation alone. Liberation and Progress of hu¬manity by promoting justice and peace through the ac¬tive involvement of youth is projected as the ultimate goal of youth ministry. Any society owes its young people the best possible opportunities to assume healthy and positive adult roles, both because the wellbeing of each individual is important in itself, and because of the potential contribution of individuals to the collective wellbeing. Church being God’s family on earth is commissioned to make youth belong to this family.”What is needed today is a church which knows how to respond to the expectations of young people”. May the whole Church be able to see the youth in their true light and help them to be true missionaries in the Church.