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The Holy Father’s take on youth ministry in the spirit of Christus Vivit

In the last three chapters, Pope Francis specifically looks at Youth Ministry, Vocations, and Discernment. A lot of work was done on the subject of youth ministry. The Pontiff devotes 45 paragraphs discussing youth ministry. Every youth coordinator, youth formator, pastor, priest to mention but few must study this chapter.

Youth Ministry

The Pontiff recommends that pastoral care for the youth must be synodal: all involving. He gives the following main cause of action: outreach- attracting new young people to an experience of the Lord and growth -helping those who have already had that experience to mature in it. The enabling environment must be created for the young ones.

Youth institutions must be well equipped. The holy father asked that our educational institutions must be youth friendly and not seek self-preservation. Educators are to make sure what the students learn in school must have a bearing on their life.

Pope Francis presents some areas which need to be developed: prayer opportunities should be created for the youth to appreciate more silence and closeness to God, opportunities to attend to the poor, music, theater, painting, sports and care for the environment.

The Pontiff stresses the importance of a ‘popular’ youth ministry which is not elitist or limited to a few but one which is opened to everyone including the poor, the vulnerable, the frail and the wounded. (CV 230-238). He again speaks of the young people being formed to be missionaries (CV239-240).

Though the young people need to have their freedom respected the Holy father admits that they must be accompanied with understanding, appreciation, and affection and avoid constantly judging them or demanding of them a perfection beyond their years (CV 243). The charism of listening is key to accompanying the young ones (CV 244).

VOCATION

In chapter eight the Pontiff picks up the subject of vocation. He explains vocation in a broad sense as call from God, including the call to life, the call to friendship with God, the call to holiness and so on (CV248). First Jesus calls every young person to be his friend.

The Pontiff picks up vocation in the strict sense, as a call to missionary service to others. He calls this the missionary vocation; a vocation that has to do with service. In this vocation the young people must ask themselves if they have the ability needed to perform the task of taking care of others. Being there for others normally has to do with: forming a new family and working.

The Holy Father went ahead to explain these two vocations. For the call to love and family he entreats young people to read chapters four and five of Amoris Laetitia. The other vocation according to the Pontiff is work. This vocation can be termed job, career, occupation and profession.

The Holy Father expects every young person to live working and not to depend on others. He says work is an expression of human dignity, a path of development and of social inclusion. (CV 271).

Pope Francis devotes paragraphs 274 -277 to talk about vocations to special consecration: priesthood and religious life. He acknowledges that many young people have to discern this vocation. Yet he is quick to admit that God would always ensure there are shepherds to take care of his flock. He counsels the young people to look at the one who calls and not priest who are not giving witness to this vocation.

DISCERNMENT

The Pontiff discusses discernment in the last chapter of this apostolic exhortation. Under discernment he talks of the formation of conscience which allows discernment to grow in depth and fidelity to God. He entreats the young people to allow Christ to transform their conscience (CV281).

The Holy Father encourages a certain degree of solitude and silence in the discernment process since it is a personal decision. The Pontiff reminds young to respond to the call of Jesus to be his friend as key in discernment.

Again, he mentions the subject of listening and accompanying the young people in their discernment. The Holy Father outline three distinct and complementary kinds of sensitivity that listening calls for from priests, men and women religious, lay and professional persons and qualified young people who can help the young with their vocation discernment. The first kind of sensitivity is directed to the individual; the second kind of sensitivity is marked by discernment; and the third kind of sensitivity is the ability to perceive what is driving the other person.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the Pontiff encourages the young people to keep running attracted by the face of Christ and wished that the Holy Spirit urge them on in this race. The Pontiff says the Church needs their momentum, intuitions and faith. As usual he showed his humor by saying “And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us.”

Indeed, when one goes through Christus Vivit he will discover that the document is rich in theology; it is biblically rooted; it is ecclesiastically inspired; historically apt; it is ecumenically oriented; it is culturally and sociologically sensitive and it is humorous, emotional and friendly to both young people and old people.

Source: Fr. Alphonse Bulloro // Radio Angelus

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