In light of every thing going on with Kapernick and Trump, etc.... I write this here as a simple reflection of some thoughts for us in ministry. This is only based upon my experience and the things I have seen.
So a few weeks ago I attended a Youth Ministry training where we did an exercise where everyone named both positive and negative words associated with Christianity or Catholicism and to say the least some interesting things came up amongst the youth ministers....
Me, being who I am and always trying to include the ideas and viewpoints of the young people I serve I brought the same questions to my teens. Ironically the very first and most consistent answer that was a negative word people associated with Christianity/Catholicism was "racist". To keep it clear, I have a very diverse group ranging from White kids, to Hispanics, Philippinos, Indian, Bengali, Chinese, as well as African American, and more. And I will say that in my experience in the church, sadly I have personally seen/received some discrimination from certain people in leadership positions on many occasions.
I understand this is a touchy topic, but I do want to explore a little bit of why this may be the perception amongst young people in New York City which is naturally muti-ethnic and multi-cultural.... Moving forward let me also make sure I point out how I don't use the word "multi-racial"(to be explained at another time)
Statistics say that by the year 2020 in the U.S., 55% of those who are under 18 will be non-caucasian. They also state that there is a 50% increase in youth who identify as multi racial since the year 2,000. Lastly, in 2012 54% of Millennial Catholics were Hispanic and that number is estimated to be higher for Generation Z. (let me add that I believe that does not include the illegal immigrants)
So now, what does that mean for us?... What I have seen is some conversations start about "including more ethnicities" in the bigger conferences, and as the faces shown in some of our documents. In fact not too long ago, when events took place in Charlottesville, North Carolina the U.S.C.C.B. issued a statement which states directly "We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured."
Now if this is the case, then why is it that the teens would still feel this way?....
What I have come to think is something I witnessed as I visited a prestigious college not too long ago. I saw many different colors of people, from all sorts of backgrounds, yet the standard of behavior seemed to be the same... In other words, the campus was very "multi-ethnic" but not very "multi-cultural".
What does that mean? Well, if we look at culture as more than the arts, language, food, or clothing and start to see it as the way in which we view and interact with the world then we can see that our education system, politics, and sadly even some leadership in the church has presented that there is one ideal way of seeing the world/interacting with it. For example,(understanding this is in some ways a stereotype but also very true in places I have seen) in some African American communities, as well as Caribbean Hispanics it is more of the cultural norm to be louder, not only in the way their voice is projected, but also in music, etc..... Yet, I have seen many in the church condemn this behavior stating that only those who are silent are closer to God. Another example may be the standard for a man to be of high stature he must feel comfortable wearing a suit and tie. Lastly, I have seen where certain genres of music(not content of the music) are deemed "more spiritual" by many groups within the church.
As the Gospel of Matthew states in chapter 24 verse 14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations..."
I believe this was a way of Christ inviting all people to the kingdom despite their cultural viewpoint or behaviors... Of course this is to say that behaviors that are directly sinful should not be allowed, but nevertheless all morally sound lifestyles should be welcome into the church without judgement. As one person told me "A youth minister does an injustice to his youth when he/she mistakes charism for orthodoxy ."
I have yet to see any of the major Catholic figures address some of the racial tension in our country, and I have heard about less of it addressed from the pulpit and/or in our ministries. Sometimes it is also disheartening when we only hold up high the images of Saints from particular nations, and not others. Although it is an uncomfortable conversation, I do believe it is a cross to be picked up in our modern times here in America.
I end this in saying, let us work to be both "multi-ethnic" and "multi-cultural" in our approach in engaging all people/all nations for the Gospel of God's kingdom and his Church.
- The Symbol
- All is Love
On retreat last week, a question was given to me... What is the difference between goals and ideals? As I have reflected upon it more and more, here is what I seem to come up with...
Both are something we work towards here on earth. Sometimes intentionally, and other times we just "go with the flow" of goals and ideals that society has set for us.
A goal is something you create. You make the standard for it. Of course there are some goals such as with school grade levels, and standards of achievement that family, friends, and society set for us however in a way it is not really a goal until you agree to it. Sometimes we agree with our formal "yes" to it, and at other times we agree with our silence.
There is an end to a goal. It usually can be achieved at some point in time. Our goals are either achieved or not based upon what we value with most, and our levels of discipline/commitment.
The ideal is something that is already designed into nature. It is something that can be universally explored and eventually understood. Some people may say things like "my ideal situation" or "my ideal job" etc. but this is more of a matter of opinion/personal preference which is probably based in their level of comfort. When this is harmful to others or does not coincide with the universal ideals then it is usually met with opposition at some point in time.... Such is the way of justice.
The ideal is never ending. You can get closer to it but it is never fully achieved on earth. Ironically, in an ideal reality all goals would point towards the ideal and be checkpoints along the way.
The deeper question in this discussion however seems to be about how we view our identity. It is in how we see ourselves, that we will in turn see our brothers and sisters, and the rest of the world. However we identify ourselves is what aligns our values, and further into our consistent thoughts as well as our daily actions.
At the end of the day it seems it is as St. Francis once told someone that he prays every night.... "God, who am I? And God, who are you?"
For if God is truly the infinite and the greatest, then he himself is the Ideal, and all of our goals aligned by our values created from our identity would point towards him.
- All is Love
If you would like to speak more about how you can have Brandon Morel aka "The Symbol" at your parish or organization, please see in the information on the >Background >Events Tab located here on this site.
- The Symbol
- All is Love
The Encounter NYC is a once-a-month event for young people wishing to Encounter Christ.
First, we encounter Jesus through an hour of Eucharistic Adoration with music and guided meditation, where we elevate our minds and hearts to our eternal Father in and with Christ present on the altar. During this time there is the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and rid ourselves of any sins or faults through the priest acting in persona Christi.
Next, we encounter our Divine Brother through the Arts. Each month we provide a cultural experience with one or more persons sharing their life and spirituality via artistic presentations. We try to make each month uniquely distinct by inviting people from diverse backgrounds and different artistic gifts (including dance, music, art, acting, film,...).
Finally, we encounter Christ through one another within small Communities, where we share our personal inspirations, fruitions, and experience with the help of the Holy Spirit. We end with a Reception, sharing food and fellowship.
We cordially invite you to join us.
- The Symbol
- All is Love
Check out this retreat hosted by my Idente Missionary brothers for all young adults in the New York City area.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Alan G. Hartman
Mr. Mike Martello
More photos and video on Instagram.com/BeTheSymbol
Last week was a time to step back, reflect, and simply enjoy time with family. We spent an amazing week in Florida around the Kissimmee/Orlando area in the pool, at Aquatica, fishing, and taking a helicopter ride.
As a kid, I would always go out there to spend time with my Grandparents, and my uncles, and now as an adult it always serves as an experience that marks a major checkpoint for me. As I enter into this new time and new season of my life, I am simply grateful to share this moment with my wife and son. I am definitely feeling more than replenished for this year to come.
- The Symbol
- All is Love
The Symbol's MUSIC :
These are my thoughts . . . My Beliefs . . . My Actions . . . Everything I do. This is the documentation of my quest towards creating more unity in the community by authentic #LOVE.
This blog was started at:
and continued at:
But now, as I have matured in my understanding as "The Symbol" and no longer Brandon Feel-X Morel you can continue my journey with me here.
(click above images to get download link)