Happy Christmas everyone. We have had a couple of pretty sick little ones so my dd (13yr old) said she could beat those Councils around England (and I think a couple in Scotland) who decided to change Christmas to Winterfest - she called yesterday 'Pukefest!'
We did manage to get to the vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and the oldest went back at Midnight as well. Today the men of the house; my husband and the two older boys went to Church for the St Stephen's Day Mass. St Stephen is the first martyr of the Church, a deacon and the patron saint of altar servers. Every year on this day my boys join their fellow altar servers for this special Mass and renew their promises. Next year they will both have earned their silver medals for 10 yrs service.
The altar server's Guild of St Stephen is an important part of my boy's life. I think this is an excellent way of encouraging young men to remain loyal to a service to Christ and His Church. They receive medals as they earn them and must show commitment and dedication in service. I think more could be made of this for the youngsters so that they were more involved in the Eucharistic life-but my boys are proud of their medals and what they symbolise.
I have been thinking about it more recently because of things I have heard on Catholic Radio about how people are encouraged to join groups within Islam-particularly for young men. These groups give them a sense of identity and demand a strong commitment. Okay, they can be a bit spooky too; one man described being hounded by the group leaders when he decided against conversion and began to return to his Christian roots.
One of my muslim friends has told me about the groups within her own local mosque that are obviously strong and designed to hold the converts together. Obviously I am not suggesting that Catholics should follow this pattern completely as the coercive nature of them is frankly unpleasant-but we do have groups within the church that could do a lot more to encourage commitment from young people. After all we do have a Faith worth dieing for and I am sure many young men in particular would be willing to be part of a Faith like that.