Sundays Travis and I lead our parish's youth group. Our goal is to be personable and straight forward. We do not believe in (what I call) Fluffy Bunny Jesus and want to give these kids the Truths of the Faith which our parents never learned and we discovered only through our college Newman Centers.
Yesterday we discussed the Communion of Saints:
-the Body of Christ
-the difference between a saint and a Saint
-prayers for the poor souls in Purgatory
-praying through and with the saints
-how one gets to Heaven
-what Purgatory is
-why people go to Hell.
Our students were engaged and attentive but one of the girls really struggled with the teaching that people go to Hell and there are no second chances once you're there. We tried to stress the difference in mortal sins and venial. That one ends up in Hell because they have denied God and not repented. That life is full of second chances - every moment is an opportunity to to say "yes" to God and seek out a confessional. That we are held accountable for what we know. That God is Just and Merciful.
She left unsatisfied, though we encouraged her to talk to her school's chaplain (12 years of Catholic education and this is the first she's heard the hard truth about Hell.) and to tell God what she thinks of it all.
What I found most interesting was the comment it seems to make on our society and perhaps how she was raised. Did her parents ground her and then take away or lessen the punishment? Why is it that the only thing that's "fair" is for people to get out of trouble once they realize the severity of their sin? Are they really contrite or do they just not want the punishment? Unfortunately, I've noticed a lot of young people who are only sorry that they have to be punished.