What is a vocation? How do I discern my vocation in the world? How can young people help to renew and revitalize the Church? How can the wider community accompany youth on their journey of faith and help them deepen their friendship with Christ?
These are just some of the topics Pope Francis addresses in his apostolic exhortation “Christus Vivit” (“Christ Lives”), a reflection on the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment that was released in early April. The document covers a number of other topics, including what the Bible says about young people, the digital environment, global migration and its impact on youth, clergy sexual abuse and youth ministry.
In the document’s most engaging parts, Pope Francis addresses young people directly. “Dear young people, make the most of these years of your youth,” he writes. “Don’t observe life from a balcony. Don’t confuse happiness with an armchair, or live your life behind a screen. Whatever you do, do not become the sorry sight of an abandoned vehicle! Don’t be parked cars, but dream freely and make good decisions. Take risks, even if it means making mistakes. Don’t go through life anaesthetized or approach the world like tourists. Make a ruckus!”
Later in the document, when he talks about discerning a vocation, the pope tells youth: “So often in life, we waste time asking ourselves: ‘Who am I?’ You can keep asking, ‘Who am I?’ for the rest of your lives. But the real question is: ‘For whom am I?’ Of course, you are for God. But he has decided that you should also be for others, and he has given you many qualities, inclinations, gifts and charisms that are not for you, but to share with those around you.”
These sections and many others are good material for reflection for both young adults and the Church as a whole, which has much to learn from young people and much to offer them. Read the whole document at https://bit.ly/2WHYm8a.
Joe Towalski is the editor and director of communications for the Diocese of St. Cloud.