Francisco: So many young people have lost their horizon, let’s give them hope

Francisco: So many young people have lost their horizon, let’s give them hope
Francisco: So many young people have lost their horizon, let’s give them hope

The Pope receives in audience the participants in the International Congress of Youth Ministry, organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, and urges them to support boys and girls, especially the most fragile who “have left big dreams and have become entangled in sadness and a bad life.

Patricia Ynestroza – Vatican City

Pope Francis received the participants in the International Youth Pastoral Congress of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, whom he firstly thanked for their work for the success of the last WYD in Lisbon.

“It has been a great effort, but it was worth it because, after the pandemic and in the midst of so many international tensions, young people needed an injection of hope. The days in Lisbon were an authentic celebration of the joy of living and being Christians; “It was an occasion to celebrate the hope that continues to live in the hearts of young people, because God himself nourishes and strengthens it, despite all adversity.”

Youth Jubilee and WYD in Seoul

He reminded them of upcoming international meetings, but, above all, he said, to accompany youth ministry in “ordinary time.” Looking ahead to the Youth Jubilee next year and the WYD in Seoul in three years, he expressed his dream to them:

“that they can facilitate many young people to encounter Jesus, even those who do not normally go to Church, bringing them the message of hope. I think of those boys and girls who have “lowered their gaze,” who have lost their horizon, who have put aside their great dreams and have been trapped in sadness and depression.”

When mentioning the continent where WYD will be held, he said that Asia is a young and vital continent; However, many young people, especially in big cities, suffer the loss of hope and withdraw into themselves, he said, with few relationships and few interests. And the same thing happens all over the world.

Therefore, the events in Rome and Seoul are the occasions that God offers us to say to all the young people of the world: Jesus is hope for me, for you, for us, for everyone, he said.

Do not neglect the daily lives of young people

To them, the Pope told them that while they prepare these two great events, they should not leave aside the “ordinary roadsthat is, the specific path that young people follow in the daily life”.

“It is about the itinerary and pastoral care of small steps, small numbers, simple words and gestures, moments of celebration and prayer in community, and daily decisions. They are less flashy experiences, but they penetrate to the depths of the heart and over time bear lasting fruit. It is the sanctity of everyday life, of which I spoke in Gaudete et exsultate.”

This text from the Pope is a hymn to joy, the sad Christian, he said, is a sad Christian. Joy should be the food of the Christian, the expression of him. In this regard, Francis pointed out some elements that should never be missing in the daily work of youth ministry.

Certainty that God is love

First of all, he told them, help young people to have in their hearts some fundamental certainties, such as “God is love”, “Christ saves you”, “He lives”, “the Spirit gives life”. They are certainties that go hand in hand with this other: The Virgin loves you because she is a Mother.

Faced with the negative news that besieges us, young people, Francis said, are particularly affected, but this should not overshadow the certainty that the risen Christ is with them and is stronger than any evil.

“Yes, Christ lives! Everything is in His hand and only He knows the destinies of the world and the course of our lives. It is important to offer young people opportunities to experience the living Christ in prayer, in Eucharistic celebration and reconciliation, in community gatherings, in service to the poor and in the witness of the saints. The young people themselves who live that experience will in turn be bearers of that announcement-testimony.”

Spiritual Discernment

Another essential element is the spiritual discernment (cf. Christus Vivit, 278-298). Discernment, he pointed out, is an art that pastoral agents must learn first: priests and religious, catechists, companions, the young people themselves who walk with other young people.

“It is an art that is not improvised, but has to be deepened, experienced and lived. For a young person, finding a person capable of discernment is finding a treasure. On the path of faith and in the discovery of one’s own vocation, having a wise guide helps to avoid many errors, many naiveties, many moments of loss and “paralysis.” Regarding discernment I also had a cycle of catechesis, you can look them up. Here I would like to emphasize only three qualities: it is synodal, it is personal and it is oriented towards the truth.

Discernment is a guide that does not take away freedom, rather, it accompanies. Discernment is synodal, and individualism currently prevails. Each one follows his own path, each one attributes a meaning to life for himself, each one establishes his values, his truths. In the practice of discernment, however, the Pope said, the Church puts brothers and sisters in the faith at our side to travel a path together, not alone, and in this way our interior maturation is much more enriched. In this sense discernment is synodal.

Listen to the other

The Pope reiterated that, while, “in our world everything tends to be massed and uniformed, young people, on the other hand, must be accompanied personally. Each one of them is unique and unrepeatable.” Each one deserves listening, understanding and advice appropriate to their age, human and spiritual maturity. Discernment can only be personal. Lastly, discernment is oriented to the true.

“In a society contaminated by fake news, where personal profiles are often altered or fictitious, where alternative identities are created, discernment wants to be for young people a path in pursuit of authenticity; to get out of artificial identities and discover one’s own real identity. It is about being “genuine” before themselves, before others and before God.

And after referring to the women who put on makeup, to be more beautiful, she recalled that many of us put makeup on our souls, to appear what we are not. We must be very careful, be true before others, before Christ, before ourselves.

He concluded by saying that it is important to continue listening to young people. It is about real listening, which does not remain “half-way”, or is only “facade”. Young people cannot be instrumentalized to carry out ideas that others have already decided or that do not really respond to their needs. No. Young people must be entrusted with responsibilities, involved in dialogue, in the programming of activities and in decisions. It is necessary to make them feel that they are an active part and with full rights in the life of the Church; and above all that they themselves are the first announcers of the Gospel to their contemporaries.

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