Almost 80% of American Catholics leave the faith by the time they turn 23.
Many young people have stopped believing in God, offering a variety of reasons for their disbelief. Some falsely believe that faith and reason are at odds. Popular culture has effectively pitted science against faith, portraying atheism as the smart choice and faith as not worthy of belief. Others feel their spiritual needs have not been met or they are unhappy with Church teachings.
Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction says, “Formal catechesis often stops with confirmation, but the need for ongoing education continues. Teens need a variety of ways to learn their faith, including access to solid Catholic fiction.”
We need to take Catechesis to a new level, one that reaches the deeper needs and desires of young people.
- Catholic teen fiction can be instrumental by showing strong teen characters and compelling story lines that bring to life relevant issues in faith and morals.
- It can give young people answers to the tough questions.
- And it can provide the reasons behind the answers.
Are faith and reason opposed? That would be impossible because God is the author of both. Faith tells us more than we could possibly know by reason alone, but it never contradicts it. Reason helps us understand our faith. When the young adult faces seeming contradictions, he needs somewhere to turn for answers. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church and writings of the saints provide a wealth of answers to today’s questions,” Linden says. “But Catholic fiction can also direct a person to truth through well-developed characters and story theme.”
What can satisfy the spiritual needs of young people? Whether they know it or not, young people hunger for Christ. At this age, they have a lot of passion, a special ability to devote themselves completely to something. If they truly understood the amazing gift that Jesus Christ offers them, they would long for it. Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt 28:20), and He accomplishes this through the Eucharist. Give teens the history and miracles that prove this teaching, and watch them flock to Our Lord. “The teens in my stories have this passion,” Linden says. “And some take the wrong path. But when they stumble upon the truth, their lives are changed. They find out what Christ meant when he said, ‘I have come to bring a fire upon earth’ (Luke 12:49).”
Aren’t some of the Church’s teachings too hard to follow? This answer circles back to “passion.” Young people have an instinctual knowledge that there is something more to life, and that they are called to a part of something big. If we can help them to understand the reasons behind the teachings, they will want to go “all in” for Christ. Point teens to the truth and watch them transform the world, bringing the next generation to Jesus Christ. Linden believes “Catholic teen fiction has a big role to play in helping our young people to stand strong in their faith.”
Books in Theresa Linden’s West Brothers Series:
- Roland West, Loner – A fourteen-year-old boy finds himself friendless at a new school and the subject of cruel rumors.
- Life-Changing Love – A ninth-grade girl must practice old-fashioned courtship with high parental involvement, but she has a crush on a shy boy and competition from a girl with no restrictions.
- Battle for His Soul – A rich teenage boy’s life is falling apart, and his guardian angel, ready for battle, hopes now is the time for conversion.
- Standing Strong – Coming down from a spiritual high, a teen boy struggles to remain faithful to God, while his twin brother considers a vocation to religious life (releases October 4).
Enjoy this excerpt from Standing Strong:
“Jesus,” Jarret West whispered, collapsing to wild grass and hard-packed earth. How could he return to his old life, to school and his friends, and stay on the right path? What would keep him from picking up his old ways? Weak and alone, he longed to experience Jesus’ presence again, the way he had in the canyon. But he didn’t deserve it, so he didn’t dare ask.
The canyon … He tried to call it to mind: the dark, the fear, the chill in the air and in his soul, the exhaustion from having poured out his sins, then the Lord drawing near. His wounded hands. His burning heart.
The memory, fuzzy around the edges, drifted to a distant corner of his mind.
“No.” Jarret dug his fingers into clumps of weeds and grass. The memory slipped even further, resisting his efforts to reclaim it. Would he lose it forever?
“Where do I go from here?”
Win a signed copy!
Enter to win a signed copy of the newest novel in the West Brothers series, Standing Strong! One winner in the continental USA will receive a signed copy of the novel. If the winner chosen is from outside the US, an ebook will be substituted. Contest ends Monday, October 2 at 11:59 PM. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If prize is unclaimed, an alternate winner will be chosen.
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Copyright 2017 Theresa Linden
About the author: Theresa Linden is the author of Roland West, Loner (2nd place winner in the 2016 Catholic Press Association Book Awards) and Battle for His Soul (1st place CPA winner in 2017). Standing Strong, the next book in this series, comes out October 4th. She hopes that the richness, depth, and mystery of the Catholic faith will spark her readers’ imagination of the invisible realities and the power of faith and grace. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, Theresa lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys. Find her on the web at TheresaLinden.com.