Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: For the Greater Glory of God
A great way of unwinding on experiment after the hectic days at the Peter McVerry Trust drop-in centre and the Gardiner St Parish Novena of Grace was to attend Pure in Heart. Pure in Heart is a weekly prayer meeting for young Catholics based in Dublin where there is the opportunity of the sacrament of reconciliation, praying the rosary, Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and then a faith presentation followed by social time. Spending prayerful time with such friendly and fun people on a weekly basis quickly became a highlight of my week and provided a great amount of spiritual and social nourishment during my time in Dublin.
Each week saw a different priest attend, celebrating the Mass and often giving a presentation on topics such as faith and science, love and relationships and other aspects of the Church’s teachings. What struck me about these sessions was how great it was to see young Catholics being challenged, deepened and mobilised in their faith. It was powerful to see them being equipped with the tools to answer sceptics or critics in their day to day life, or just to help them better understand the challenges ahead of them. The Pure in Heart mission team (made up of young adults who attend the group) also visit local faith schools to share these challenging yet hopeful messages regarding living out Gospel values in their relationships.
Although I originally attended for my own relaxation, after getting to know the group better I volunteered to speak at a prayer meeting on the topic of chastity – one of the vows I am preparing to take in September – hoping that my experiences and the studies we have done on the topic could help strengthen the resolve of those at the prayer group as they strive to live out their relationships chastely, according to their faith. This ended up being a wonderful evening, again, an unexpected highlight of my time in Dublin. It was very healthy for me to talk about a difficult yet extremely relevant issue openly and honestly, a great test of how I’m feeling about this vow and whether I felt comfortable discussing what could be a very personal thing quite publically. As usual, there was a warm, welcoming atmosphere throughout and it was a fitting way to spend my final evening in Ireland, where I experienced great hospitality as I have throughout my three months in several different contexts.
A bit like my experiences at the drop-in centre for homeless people, I realized that there was a hidden beauty to what this group offers to its members. First of all, it provides great community at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult, possibly lonely, to be a young Catholic. It united people around Jesus in the sacraments and allowed them to see that there were others like them, trying to conform their lives to His. For me personally, it was enriching to meet young people of faith and to have the opportunity to have spiritual conversations and forge friendships with a variety of people my own age. Secondly, it must be said that Pure in Heart provides a powerful counter-cultural witness. Amidst a context of a rapidly-secularizing Ireland and a media which is saturated with sex, here, between twenty to forty young, vibrant, joyful Catholics would meet, celebrate their faith and their intention to live life to the full and chastely. It was affirming to see the social teachings of the Church regarding relationships strike a chord with other young people who were finding true fulfillment by going against what much of modern culture would have them believe, seeking healthy relationships and true fulfillment in deepening their faith and their love of Jesus Christ.
Laus Deo Semper: Praise God Always