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    The Self-Transcendence of Jesus A Model for the Evangelisation of the Adolescent

    Hackett, Des (2003) The Self-Transcendence of Jesus A Model for the Evangelisation of the Adolescent. Masters thesis, Pontifical University, St Patrick's College, Maynooth.

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    There have been times in my life (thankfully few!) when I have talked to people at social gatherings and sensed they were not listening to what I was saying. Perhaps, convention and social etiquette prevented them from expressing their true feelings to me. Instead, I received a ‘glazed disinterested look’, in which the person did not keep eye contact with me and made little attempt to engage with the topic of conversation. In talking about Jesus Christ to secondary school students, one can see that same glazed, disinterested look. Students say “we have heard it all before” or “its boring” or “what relevance does Jesus have for me?” One possible explanation for these comments is that students have become indifferent and immune to the person and message of Jesus Christ. Hence the glazed look! This thesis originated in the ‘glazed look’ of students I have taught and ministered to as Chaplain over the past seven years. It is a look that has challenged me to ask myself “who Jesus is for young people and why do so many students not engage with him?” It is a look that has motivated me to explore ways in which I can facilitate an environment, where the person of Jesus Christ can speak to and resonate with these young people. In my search for a possible answer, I have been inspired by the theology of Karl Rahner who asked “what are the basic fundamental conditions for knowing God?” In other words, given that we know there is a God, what must be correspondingly real in our human makeup to give flesh to that belief? For Rahner, the answer lay in the orientation of the human person to God. Essentially, he argues that human beings are transcendentally oriented to God as evidenced in the human desire to know more, to question more, to love more. Such an orientation pre-disposes the person to be moved and transformed by the experiences of life. The result is that people can move beyond themselves or self-transcend and so come to discover their true divine origin. In the theology of Rahner, this is described as a movement from an implicit knowledge(transcendental) of God to an explicit knowledge(categorical) of God. Central to this theology is the humanity of Jesus, who is the model of what a human being is called to be. This idea o f Jesus as a model of humanity will be developed further in chapter one and in chapter three. But before we begin exploring Jesus as a model, we are obliged to ask what connection has the humanity of Jesus to the evangelisation of teenagers? In short, everything! I will argue in this thesis that adolescents are by their very nature oriented to God and primed to encounter Jesus as the very fulfilment of who they are. To be human then, is to fundamentally and irreversibly oriented to God. This Rahnerian understanding of divine disposition will be fully explored in chapter two. Like all of Humanity then, young people possess an intuitive self-awareness and are called to move beyond themselves to discover their true self. Both their psychological development and their spirituality reflect this. Both these important areas will be examined in chapter four and chapter five of the thesis. However, the general malaise of unbelief and the inheritance and interpretative blocks of modem day culture, makes it difficult for young people to discover their true orientation and disposition to the divine. In chapter six, I will examine various blocks to the innate religious orientation of the adolescent. I will conclude the chapter with a description of an effective retreat programme I used with a fifth year class, which incorporated the main tenets of Rahner’s theology.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: Jesus; Evangelisation; Adolescent;
    Academic Unit: St Patrick's College, Maynooth > Faculty of Theology
    Item ID: 5220
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2014 11:13

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