We had our weekly teen discussion tonight and tacked on a celebration of Pope Benedict XVI's 80th birthday. Ria has a picture of the birthday cake here. We can't take credit for the artistry, however, as our friends the Z's created it (it was a double celebration as gilbertgirl was also being singled out for birthday related greetings and salutations).
The energy of last week's discussion (discussing the Eucharist during Easter week with a small group of enthusiastic teens and plenty of leftover Easter candy is highly recommended) managed to pour over into this much larger gathering (approximately 3 times the turnout!) and I can only sit back in amazement and awe. We're still discussing Sacramentum Caritatis.
Writing out some general questions ahead of time definitely helped as well as NOT trying to rush through all of the material. I assigned a smaller reading for next week as the discussions seem to be more productive when we don't try to accomplish quite so much! I think we've also reached a certain comfort level in sharing even half-baked ideas in order to further the discussion (and sharing plenty of laughter between everyone) that have also helped in getting the discussions flowing.
I'm going to try to get to daily mass on Tuesdays in order to better prepare for this group because something really beautiful is going on and I am amazed and filled with gratitude.
The discussion was technically on the meaning of the liturgy (and some technical terms used in the text) but ended up being largely about beauty and how it affects us and why it is important to us - particularly in the context of the liturgy. We discussed in some depth a quote from Pope Benedict XVI that I posted here earlier in the week about how each person's path to God is different. We talked about how the Church gives us guidelines for things like liturgical music and yet wants to leave things appropriate open to differences in cultures and appropriate new things. Naturally, subjects like free will, the meaning of happiness, God bringing good out of evil, a favorite parable of Jesus and lots of other important topics came up along the way. Oh yes, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about what "active participation" in Mass really means. Good stuff!
Even in the midst of our beautiful evening, we stopped to pray for the students at Virginia Tech. My sister-in-law had heard from a mutual friend of ours (who moved from Wisconsin to Virginia a number of years ago) whose neighbor's son was killed in the shooting. She apologized for bringing a sad note into our gathering, but I thought it was completely appropriate, not only because of our connectedness to each other and the importance of praying for those in need, but because a lot of our discussions have been serious discussions about things that concern our ultimate goal in life and what might impede our way. The Christian faith is a beautifully hopeful thing even in the midst of sadness.