How to Navigate Faith in a Secular Society
Looking at some potential ideas on how to your develop prayer life during transitional times
Sarah Kaufmann CONTRIBUTOR
Image: Abbra Kaufmann
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths,” reads 2 Timothy 4:2–4:4.
Being a young adult in general comes with its set of challenges. In a flurry of hookup culture, it’s tempting to go with the desires of the flesh and not of the spirit. God has given us a spirit as a gift. When partaking in fellowship, we are putting our gifts in a mix with others, creating something wonderful.
How can we stand strong without being persuaded by the aesthetic of a secular lifestyle? Fortunately, there are many ways. One is how The Beatles got by: with a little help from their friends. In the GTA, we are blessed to have a plethora of resources and communities for growing and nurturing our faith with like-minded individuals. From events for young adults in the diocese, to on campus Chaplaincies, making meaningful connections is readily available to us.
University of Toronto Mississauga student Bria Dopson reflected on how she grew as a practicing Catholic: “The persistence and invitation by a new friend to get me to go to different spiritual events.” Often, God works through friends and acquaintances to bring us closer to Him. By attending events like The Source with the Sisters of Life, or Rise Up, we can flourish.
When asking York University student, Andrea Li Calzi, about seeking fellowship postsecondary, she stated that she knew “(her) faith would be taken to the ‘next level.’” For many young Catholics, university can be a time of true growth. Li Calzi suggests that the Chaplaincies that she was a part of, both at Ryerson and York, have “strengthened (her) faith by giving (her) the confidence and gifts (she needs) to change the world.”
In order to remain strong in the face of temptation, a solid foundation is necessary. Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension Presents discusses in his “Faith is Not Something You Can Lose” video that you may lose salvation, but you cannot lose faith. Faith itself is both a gift and a virtue. Simply put, although we always have access to our faith, we need to be careful to refrain from giving into vices. Therefore, just as if we were training for a marathon, we should be consistently training our mind and spirit. How? We can do this through prayer.
Prayer is a subject that can seem daunting. There’s a general misconception that prayer has to be an elaborate affair where certain things should be said. While on a retreat last year with the Sisters of Life, one of the Sisters said that prayer can be done through the simple acknowledgement of Heaven.
Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” In short, we are called to turn to the Holy Spirit in times of need. The power of prayer is vital in keeping a solid line of communication going. Just like we talk to our best friends frequently, we need to be consistently spending time with the Holy Spirit.
If you’re trying to start a structured prayer life, Dopson suggests “praying for 10 to 15 minutes when you wake up and before bed.” Once this becomes comfortable, try increasing that time a little bit. If you fall asleep, don’t worry; even Pope Francis admitted he has.
Another offer is introducing yourself to Catholic art forms to refocus yourself. Some ideas include reading a spiritual book (like He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciszek), listening to worship music (John Michael Talbot is my favourite), or expanding your YouTube watch list (Grandin Media and Ascension Presents are awesome).
Dopson observed something which struck a chord: “I think one thing to be noted is that your faith life doesn’t have to look exactly the same as the woman or man next to you; it can look different and still be fruitful and give Glory to God.”