Bishop Hying encourages young adults to commit themselves to Jesus Christ Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Marc Laudonio, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Nov. 07, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
With a jazz orchestra performing in the background, Bishop Donald J. Hying speaks to young adults at the recent Theology on Tap sponsored by the Cathedral Parish in Madison and held at The Brink Lounge. (Contributed photo by Marc Laudonio)

MADISON -- Lo-Fi beats fill the room with energy. People begin to pour libations into glasses and grab an app to bring to their tables.

Anticipation builds in the nightclub at The Brink Lounge in the heart of downtown Madison as roughly 140 young adults prepare to welcome the one they’ve been waiting for tonight — Bishop Donald J. Hying.

This was the scene at the most recent Theology on Tap event sponsored by the Cathedral Parish. Theology on Tap has been a monthly staple of the Cathedral Parish’s evangelization with young adults (20s/30s) in the Madison area for over a decade, but everyone could sense that something was different tonight. Somehow, the Lord was gracing us with His presence in a unique way as the recently appointed bishop of Madison was coming to talk to us about “Being Catholic in a Postmodern World”!

Living out a personal relationship with Jesus

As Bishop Hying began his presentation, he reminded us that the beginning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) quotes John 17:3, where Jesus says that eternal life is essentially the experience of knowing God and the One He has sent — Jesus Himself.

Bishop Hying encouraged each of us that it is the living out of a personal relationship with God via Jesus Christ that is at the center of Catholicism and the key to the authentic happiness that we each seek. Furthermore, he proposed that when we fall deeply in love with God, we will begin to see things differently, and that Catholicism, especially as it is presented in the CCC, is the way of seeing things clearly.

Postmodernity, unfortunately, has lost confidence in any ability to see things clearly, but the great hope of Catholicism is that when we stand with Christ, we can see things as they truly are and meant to be.

As Bishop Hying joked about never having taught with jazz music in the background (the Madison Jazz Orchestra was performing in the main bar area), he again turned to the Gospel of John, recounting how Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus’ feet with oil that cost almost a year’s salary (300 days’ wages, according to St. John).

Minimalist v. maximalist

Why would Mary do something so extravagant? Love! Bishop Hying proposed that Mary was a maximalist instead of a minimalist. A minimalist asks, “what do I have to do?” out of a sense of mere obligation, whereas a maximalist asks, “what can I do?” out of a sense of deep, abiding love.

Bishop Hying expressed thanks to all there, sensing that if they were at such an event as Theology on Tap, they at least trended towards being a maximalist, and encouraged us all to grow more into maximalists each day.

As Bishop Hying continued to share vignettes of God’s great love for us and His desire for us to be united with Him, one question he proposed challenged each of us to reflect on our everyday choices. He mentioned that many people think of their one year plan, their five year plan, or perhaps even their 20 year plan.

He recommended that the ultimate question we should ask ourselves is “What is my five billion year plan?” For it is living in union with Jesus and genuine love toward others that I can truly find the “fountain of youth” that explorers of old searched for in secret, unknown abodes. Jesus is the one that leads me into a fulness of life that begins in its seedling form right now and in five billion years, we hope, flowers into a lush rainforest of God’s love.

Making a commitment

One of Bishop Hying’s final words of wisdom for all gathered there was the exhortation to not be content to just “keep our options open”. He stated that, contrary to the overwhelming message of postmodern culture, authentic freedom is not found in never really committing to anything or anyone, but in committing to one person, one thing — namely, Jesus Christ and His mission of saving love.

He shared that living for Jesus boldly, passionately, and completely is what will bring us real freedom and happiness.

As the evening came to an end, Bishop Hying took time to speak with various people individually. Every young adult that wanted to share something with the bishop or ask him a question was given the opportunity to spend time with him and experience the fatherly love he has for each of them.

As he left to go get some much needed rest, a spirit of enthusiasm continued to fill the room, for I think we all knew that in some way, we had all been in the Upper Room where the Holy Spirit had been poured out, and we were now being sent on a mission.

For as Bishop Hying reminded us, God is sending us out into this postmodern world to speak of Jesus Christ as if no one has ever heard of him, because many people, in fact, have not!

To hear the entirety of Bishop Hying’s Theology on Tap presentation, visit the Cathedral Parish website at the following link where you can stream or download his talk:

Marc Laudonio is director of evangelization and catechesis at the Cathedral Parish in Madison.

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