By Helena Rodriguez: PNT correspondent
According to Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces, “spirituality” is something all Americans crave and social media, such as Facebook and YouTube as well as consumerism, are having a major impact on this quest but not always for the better.
Ramirez spoke about “Youth and Spirituality” Thursday at Eastern New Mexico University as a part of an ongoing observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. About 15 students and staff, both Catholic and non-Catholic, attended the one-hour, non-denominational talk.
“Spirituality has to do with a holy longing in us, a burning desire to be happy, because many of us are restless,” Ramirez said. “Spirituality is what we do with our desires and longings. Everyone is spiritual because everyone is born with it. We all have our longings, but spirituality is about what we do with these longings.”
Making references to Liberace, Mother Teresa and Saint Augustine, as well as to pop icons such as Janice Joplin, Lady Gaga and Madonna, Ramirez said, “It use to be that spirituality was for the New Agers, monks, nuns or crazy people, but now many people are searching for meaning.”
Ramirez said he interviewed a series of people about the topic before coming to Portales.
“Many kids today are exhausted because they are too busy trying to do everything and so they don’t sleep at night. They don’t have time to think about the spirituality of things.”
According to Ramirez, a part of spirituality is having a sense of wonder and he noted that many people lose this sense of “wonder” as they move from childhood to adulthood.
“We’re meant to be joyful, like children,” he noted.
In speaking to college students, Ramirez also talked about the subjects of tattoos, iPods and video games, saying, “Life is not a video game. If you make a mistake, you cannot hit the ‘restart’ button.”
Ramirez said young people have made comments such as,” I’m spiritual but not religious,” meaning they believe in a higher being but don’t go to church. He said, “What can an organized church do for you? It makes you accountable and also, it helps you connect with others.”
Ramirez brought along a PowerPoint presentation and spoke of conversion, saying, “Conversion is about a decision to allow ourselves to be remade, whether this is through a Pentecostal retreat or a cursillo.”
He also spoke of the conversion of Saint Augustine, once a “playboy” of his time who turned out, according to Ramirez, to be “One of the most brilliant thinkers.”
He added that out culture of consumerism runs counter to the notion of “being who we were meant to be,” because of the focus on self-gratification and instant-gratification. He referred to campaign slogans such as Loreal’s, “You deserve it,” or Burger King’s, “Have if your way.”
According to Ramirez, a saint is a person who focuses on one thing.
“Mother Teresa focused on two things, God and the poor,” Ramirez pointed out. “However, these are really one and the same.” He added, “Mother Teresa found the sacred in people.”
Rey Coss of the Office of Hispanic Affairs at ENMU said Ramirez was invited to speak because the office wanted to get a good variety of representatives from the Hispanic culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month activities continue at ENMU through Oct. 15.