Our responsibility is to show young people that engaging with the Church and Christ’s timeless message, is worth it, not a waste of time.
Pope Francis underscored this today, Oct. 3, 2018, to the Synod Fathers at the first General Congregation of the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, Oct. 3-28, 2018.
The Holy Father began by thanking the young people connected to the congregation via streaming, and all the youth who have made their voices heard.
“I thank them for having wagered that it is worth the effort to feel part of the Church or to enter into dialogue with her; worth the effort to have the Church as a mother, as a teacher, as a home, as a family, and, despite human weaknesses and difficulties, capable of radiating and conveying Christ’s timeless message.”
He thanked them also for wagering that it is “worth the effort to hold onto the boat of the Church which, despite the world’s cruel storms, continues to offer shelter and hospitality to everyone; worth the effort to listen to one another; worth the effort to swim against the tide and be bound by lofty values: family, fidelity, love, faith, sacrifice, service, eternal life.”
“Our responsibility here at the Synod,” Francis said, “is not to undermine them; but rather to show that they are right to wager: it truly is worth the effort, it is not a waste of time!”
The young people present and those participating from afar “fills us with joy and hope.”
He made some suggestions to the Synod Fathers: “The Synod we are living is a moment of sharing, he said, noting this means all are invited to speak with courage and frankness (parrhesia). “Only dialogue can help us grow. An honest, transparent critique is constructive and helpful, and does not engage in useless chatter, rumours, conjectures or prejudices.”
Humility in listening, he said, must correspond to courage in speaking. “I told the young people in the pre-Synod Meeting: “If you say something I do not like, I have to listen even more, because everyone has the right to be heard, just as everyone has the right to speak.’”
“Many of you have already prepared your intervention beforehand – and I thank you for this work – but I invite you to feel free to consider what you have prepared as a provisional draft open to any additions and changes that the Synod journey may suggest to each of you,” he acknowledged, recommending: “Let us feel free to welcome and understand others and therefore to change our convictions and positions: this is a sign of great human and spiritual maturity.”
Discernment Rooted in Faith & Conviction God Acts Throughout History
Francis reminded the Synod is an ecclesial exercise in discernment. “Discernment is not an advertising slogan, it is not an organizational technique, or a fad of this pontificate, but an interior attitude rooted in an act of faith. Discernment is the method and at the same time the goal we set ourselves: it is based on the conviction that God is at work in world history, in life’s events, in the people I meet and who speak to me.”
He also reminded: “We are a sign of a Church that listens and journeys.”
“A Church that does not listen shows herself closed to newness, closed to God’s surprises, and cannot be credible, especially for the young who will inevitably turn away rather than approach.”
The Pope also advised those present to leave behind prejudice and stereotypes, to decisively overcome the scourge of clericalism, and to cure the virus of self-sufficiency and of hasty conclusions reached by many young people.
The Holy Father prayed the Synod awaken our hearts. “The present moment, and this applies also to the Church, appears to be laden with struggles, problems, burdens,” he acknowledged, “But,” he continued, “our faith tells us that it is also the kairos in which the Lord comes to meet us in order to love us and call us to the fullness of life.”
We Must Rediscover Our Reasons for Hope & Pass Them Down … Don’t Be Tempted by Prophets of Doom
“The future is not a threat to be feared…” he said, stressing: “We need to rediscover the reasons for our hope and, above all, to pass them on to young people who are thirsting for hope.”
“Do not let yourselves be tempted, therefore, by the “prophets of doom”, do not spend your energy on “keeping score of failures and holding on to reproaches”, keep your gaze fixed on the good that “often makes no sound; it is neither a topic for blogs, nor front page news…”
“And do not be afraid,” he continued, “before the wounds of Christ’s flesh, always inflicted by sin and often by the children of the Church.”
Pope Francis concluded, saying: let us work to “spend time with the future,” to take from this Synod “not merely a document – that generally is only read by a few and criticized by many – but above all concrete pastoral proposals capable of fulfilling the Synod’s purpose.”
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