By Amanda Murthy
Developing a sense of critical thinking, taking the time for reflection and being open to the possibility of faith, will lead us to live the life that God wants for us.
Visiting American theologian and scholar, Father Thomas Scirghi SJ presented this message to the youth of the Church during a free public lecture at the University of Notre Dame Fremantle (UNDA) campus on Tuesday, 3 July.
Around 80 students and staff attended the evening session themed “The Restless Heart –Saints, Spirituality, and the Year of Youth”.
UNDA Chaplain Fr Mariusz Grzech led the opening prayer, followed by a welcome address by Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of Fremantle Campus, Dr Selma Alliex.
The New York Fordham University lecturer started his talk by challenging those present to write their own spiritual autobiography based on the information gained from the session.
He then made a statement, “The human life is a constant longing in which we will never be satisfied – This longing can either result in freedom or frustration, depending on the choices we make.”
“When we expect fulfilment but then get disappointment in return – We may fill ourselves with material goods, entertainment, and other temporary satisfactions thinking that this will fill the void, when in fact this will lead to frustration,” he said.
“Freedom on the other hand comes from being guided by what will truly fulfil us -the restless heart will never allow us to settle for complacency.”
“However I believe that true freedom comes when you can discipline yourself to attain what
you want,” he added.
Fr Scirghi also discussed the concept of the ultimate concern.
“Every person has an ultimate concern – that to which we surrender ourselves completely because it promises fulfilment.”
He shared some of the issues faced by the world today which shape modern autobiography. They included religious alienation – The church’s loss of authority in some countries, individualism – the dismissal of the traditional hierarchy society, social alienation – social media is a great tool but in some ways, encourages communication without the community.
In order to achieve one’s spiritual goals, Fr Scirghi said courage is needed. “Courage enables us to deal with doubt.
“We also need a sense of detachment from material things in order to achieve our goals,” he added.
“True faith requires courage to enable us to follow the important questions of our lives as far as we can go in our quest for understanding.”
The talk concluded with Fr Scirghi giving those present some advice for the youth of today.
Fr Scirghi urged the youth to take time to reflect on the meaning of their lives. This, he said will require critical thinking lest they become overwhelmed by the superficiality of popular culture.
“Also, I encourage my students to be open to the possibility of faith. In this way they will be free to follow the Lord’s path for them.”