Sunday, June 17, 2012

Peace of Mind and Religion

Busy young people in the Seoul diocese are looking for peace of mind when practicing their religion. The diocese recently made a survey of 3,773 young people  and compared the results to a survey made after the Seoul Synod in 2002. 38.7 percent said their primary desire was to experience inner peace, 30.6 percent said family joy. In the 2002 survey, the desire for health ranked first. Clearly, the change to a much harsher reality in today's world has resulted in a change to desiring more peace of mind and family harmony.

What seems most worrisome for young people, however, is concern for doing well in their studies (38.8 percent), concern for money (35.8 percent), and finding work (32.7 percent). Ten years before, money was listed as fifth; now it has  become second; a sign that materialism has become more prevalent.  The social networking  services have become prominent in the world of many young people, and interest in books has decreased.

When asked about the meaning of religion, 61.7 percent indicated that it gives them peace of mind;  ranking second, with 19.2 percent, was the belief that religion helped them form a value system. Purification/sanctification of life came in third with 10.4 percent. Their introduction to the religious life, they said, came from those who were close to them; the influence of the mass media was negligible.

The editorial in the Catholic Times, commenting on the survey, mentions that pastoral programs in the future should work to understand the  results of  the survey. At first glance, the results are not surprising when one sees religion as only something personal, a very natural understanding of religion. But with further reflection, when one understands the spiritual and the communal aspects of religion, it should make us question whether this more comprehensive understanding of religion is being overlooked.

The difficulties that our young people are facing today can be seen precisely in this desire for peace and stability. However, if their desire for peace of mind is sought exclusively in religion then we have a misunderstanding of the meaning of Christianity, particularly in its communal and  transcendental aspects. Peace of mind is a by-product and not the object of a mature Christian life.

No comments:

Post a Comment