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Pope Francis’s call for young people to become a radical force for good is a compelling appeal

WYD 2013 has inspired youngsters from around the world

By on Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A pilgrim with a rosary wrapped around her hand prays during the World Youth Day closing Mass on Copacabana beach (Photo: CNS)

A pilgrim with a rosary wrapped around her hand prays during the World Youth Day closing Mass on Copacabana beach (Photo: CNS)

It was hard to find a moment of calm and quiet last week amidst the clamour of the city, heightened by the pilgrims’ songs and shouts as they spotted flags from other countries (apparently Europeans were rather under represented at Rio 2013, if the number of times we got accosted for photographs walking up Copacabana was anything to go by).

It is this that made it so impressive when one word from the Pope could silence a raucous crowd of around one million young people. It is also what made spaces like the ‘Vocations Veranda’ in the exhibition centre of Vivo Rio so special.

All week, amidst catechesis, conferences, worship and prayer, pilgrims had the opportunity to talk about their vocations with one of the volunteers, who were generally priests and religious marked out by the signs around their necks saying: Talk to me about your vocation.

Comfortable sofas, palm trees and hanging tea lights twinkling from the ceiling gave the area an air of intimacy, and people gathered in little groups having animated and intense discussions. You got the sense as you passed by that this was a space in which hearts and minds were raw and open, earnestly seeking their unique destinies.

It was at World Youth Day in Sydney back in 2008 that my own vocation to write and to marriage started to become clearer to me. Indeed, the question of what to do with your life can be one of the most urgent and emotional issues on young people’s minds. It was moving to see pilgrims sitting quietly with arms around each other’s shoulders, comforting each other and praying through their discernment.

Pope Francis seems well aware of this, and has made the vocations of young people a particular focus in his addresses throughout his week in Rio. Speaking to young people back in April, he urged them to stake their lives “on noble ideals”, and to “swim against the tide”, adding “it’s good for the heart, but it takes courage.” In his arrival address to the president of Rio on July 22, he developed this theme further when he talked of the challenge of giving young people “a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good”.

The question of “how to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and how to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone” was one that he said he would be thinking and praying about throughout the week.

For many young people, the past week has been their first major experience of the Church Universal; their first time seeing so many other young Catholics in one place, even perhaps their first time travelling outside their own countries and parishes.

As Pope Francis said upon his arrival in Rio, “These young people are from every continent, they speak many languages, they bring with them different cultures, and yet they also find in Christ the answer to their highest aspirations, held in common, and they can satisfy the hunger for a pure truth and an authentic love which binds them together in spite of differences.”

The experience of World Youth Day will have planted many seeds in the hearts and minds of young people from all around the world, the fruit of which may only be evident in many years to come. Pope Francis’s call to the youth of the Church to grow into radical forces for good in the world is a compelling appeal that would be difficult to ignore.

  • NatOns

    ‘Pope Francis’s call to the youth of the Church to grow into radical forces for good in the world is a compelling appeal that would be difficult to ignore.’

    A compelling appeal indeed to generous souls, and one that does not yet fit entirely without conflict amid some in the Catholic Church .. not least as a stunningly successful witness to the New Evangelisation. For even under the dutiful reproach of officials in Christ’s body toward these witnesses, Our Lady shall not be deflected in her immaculate life from seeking ever more world-changing heavenly graces poured out by God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, for those placed under her care. That Immaculate Heart – in so intimate a relationship with her divine Son’s that even sacrament cannot compare – will continue to show true love, humility, commitment, union and blessing for those who devote their lives to Christ in imitation of her pierced soul; which even the highest offices of authority in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church would not dream to gainsay.

  • $27740841

    Meanwhile, Pope Francis has just ordered the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to stop saying the Traditional Mass unless they apply for permission in each case from the ‘relevant authority’.
    With 150 priests, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate give the impression of being a distinctly youthful order with no shortage of vocations and with more and more of their priests offering the TLM to parish groups and to communities of FFI sisters, as in Lanherne Cornwall.
    But obviously this is not the model of ‘youth’ ministry that Pope Francis favours and so with an authoritarian stroke of the pen, the inclusive Pope Francis has reached out to them in a non-judgemental way and dealt this blow.

  • Ronald Tenorio Sapiandante

    It’s a breather August, last week the holidays buy me a much needed weekend at Nueva Ecija and just today; this Sunday let me afford another rejuvenating biking trek to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage at the City of Antipolo. Against the routine academic and house chores I had gee…the layback life at my hometown was a breathed of fresh air. Another reason to be thankful to God that I am a Filipino and that I have more of these holidays than anyone else’s in the entire planet LOL hahahhaha!

    Now about the trek, remembering last year I just barely survived the first time I rode my bike up the 80 km stretch with the last 20 km rising above sea level at 234 meters are now just mementoes. Now with an upgraded bike parts and more than a thousand kilometers of mileage, the ride seems effortless and the climb was even leisurely. Only that the rain pours 4 kilometers down the final stretch and I reached the Shrine soaking wet. Anyway the parishioners doesn’t mind, the Shrine had been a host’s for bike clubs from all over Metro Manila including those of nearby provinces. They even installed a bike rails near the entrance adjacent to the right side of the altar. On a not so rainy Sunday equipped with a flat screen television monitor it’s a sight to behold the men and women alongside with their bikes celebrate the mass from there.

    As usual I checked the gift shop for, “The Secret of Happiness, The Fifteen Prayer” a small revelation prayer book courtesy of St. Bridget of Sweden which had been my daily mantra from many years back and about the same crustacean shell bracelet both of which I always sought from there. Praise God both were not available. Hmmmmmm… then…, I just can’t help but throw a naughty smile to the gift shop familiar faces… just when right after I query their younger colleagues about the things I want, one of them jested, “ type nyo!”. Gee that just made me more conscious about my solid as concrete social status. So to make the long story short I settled for another pair of bracelets and consented to let my current prayer book that was bought from St. Tolentine Shrine at Cabanatuan City Nueva Ecija to serve its daily purpose.

    Now what really inspired me to write was the Priest homily, referring to an address of Pope Francis to the youth, “Swim against the wave its good for the heart”. He urges on the churchgoer’s to do just that giving details on how we in the insignificance of our daily lives can actually respond to the call of the Papacy and even pointing out specific situation and what we as faithful ought to do. Gee my take on this… easier said than done.

    That was a tall challenge even more so frightening because it was addressed to the youth, to the youth of today. I thought I was radical but that ideal just shrink my stance as a faithful into oblivion… nowadays when the risk of burning out is a glaring reality…where the current towards materialism and humanism are building its momentum amidst the uncensored frescoes of the information highway …considering our own unmanageable battles…its suicide…

    Brave the waves…gee tall order…though I stand firm in the light of the Cathechism…though no one ever did persuade me in stepping to another brethren’s foot… never did I openly stroked against the tide…the several times I was forced to… I dived at the bottom not only because down there the current is weaker but more so I am hoping no one knows what I am doing… but swim openly against the wave… that takes more than the brain and brawn I can offer…that calls for something I think would never will be me …

    Pope Francis said he wanted to be realistic; “the journey of the church and our own personal journeys as Christians are not always easy; they meet with difficulties and trials.” CNS by Cindy Wooden

    But surprisingly the gist of this essay came seconds after I heard the venerable Rector mentioned the challenge and the rest poured as the rain outside this Shrine patterned after the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome slowly subsided into a trickle. Even the descent back home was filled of occasion that drawn from the scenery up the mountain details of the concept I had in mind. The flock of birds flying above, the metro obscured with rain and smog, the line of educational institution by the trail, the not so considerate four wheeled engines and the roar of Marikina River as I passed by.

    “Remain steadfast in the journey of faith,” the pope said. “Listen carefully, young people, swim against the tide; it’s good for the heart, but it takes courage.” – CNS by Cindy Wooden

    Grab the bull by its horn…the Gospel narrative declares Jesus did just that… John 2:13-17 Jesus cleanses the temple… Matthew 6:6-11 The healing of a Man with a withered hand on a Sabath… Mark 7:5-8 A discourse against external precepts …Luke 16:14-15 Reproof of the Pharisees… Mark 11:15-18 The Second cleansing of the Temple…Luke 4:28-30 The rejection of Jesus at Nazareth…

    These were just few of the many ways our Lord was depicted going against the most influential congregation of his time. Openly in the hearing of those He condemned whenever and wherever He is He boldly swims against the tide.

    The existentialist got this wrong when they attributed alienation ultimately to the fear of losing one’s life and consequently, concluded that superhuman as a being is simply being not afraid of death. It’s not the fear of death as per se that Jesus had, it’s the zeal to do the will of His Father; the zeal to do what ought to be…the zeal to do good even if He had to stand up against popular opinion; the courage to swim openly against the current of His time even in the face of persecutions.

    “The Holy Spirit is the source of the necessary courage, he (Pope Francis) said, ‘There are no difficulties, none, no trials or misunderstandings to fear if we remain united to God’” – CNS by Cindy Wooden

    Remain united to God… In nature it’s instinctive to form groups for the common good and these organizations requires Hierarchy. Chances are you have seen flocks of birds flying in echelons; a distinctive formation where one bird takes its place relative to one another. Aerodynamics actually proves it benefits throughput in terms of reducing wind resistance aside from the obvious communication advantages during flight.

    Matthew 16:16-19 Institution of the Church through Simon The Apostles of which the Lord had by this very verses had designated to be called Peter.

    Remain united to the Church… The Lord had made a promised in the presence of the Disciple on behalf of the Universal Church. During the closing of the Gospel according to Matthew Jesus said. 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciple of all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age,”

    Remain united to Jesus… Imagined the echelons where Jesus and the Holy Spirit was always on the lead and the rest of The Apostle, The Saints and Mary ever dearest just close by encouraging everyone of us to take our turn on following God’s will. Even then when the strong cross wind blows the Leads would shift so He himself could break the wind and shield the rest of the flock allowing each one of the faithful to bear only what they themselves can carry.

    Therefore the venerable Rector was right after all. It was I in the narrowness of personal opinion was presuming He wants me to burnt-out while caught against the waves on my own. Never does one who try to do what ought to be be on his own. As a faithful, as a part of the Church I am but one of the birds that needs only to follow those who are already ahead of me…

    “Archbishop Rino Fisichella, council president, said the candidates were chosen to reflect the face of the church present where people live and suffer in order to give everyone hope and the certainty of a future.” – CNS by Cindy Wooden

    With these coming to terms, had brought me into a realization that not only proper diet and exercise was the source of my vigor that far more than that my ardent desire to continue living by our faith on the Lord Jesus an offshoot of my being devoted to the Catholic Church really keeps pulling me up. Now it came clear to me that my Marian pilgrimages to and fro Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo and the Mother of Perpetual Help at Baclaran along with the short prayer on the churches along the way including the adoration chapel of the Black Nazarene that even gave me the opportunity to adore relics of St, Claire, St. Camillus and the actual image of San Pedro Calunsod blessed at Rome during his canonization but more so had given me the privileges to commune with the faithful to the point that they are now familiar to me and me to them.

    I may not be known to them or them known me by name but that filial familiarity between Church’s faithful transcending time and space that had begun on the Cross of Calvary and since then offshoot to innumerable ripples on the heart of the faithful had already changed the courses of history. And what more proof is there to seek that Christian communities have the power to brave the waves.

    It is no wonder that I am now an academician, my vocation was for such and the path where I was being led is to make the most of my gifts setting examples to the youth under my care. That though it seems I was trudging along by myself on top of my bike amidst the powerful noisy and smoke exhaling monster dominating the highways I was never the only one…on bike and in trying as hard to follow His Examples.

    “We Christians weren’t chosen by the Lord to do little things,” he (Pope Francis) said. – CNS by Cindy Wooden

    The challenge was actually an INVITATION, an invitation to fly with Jesus…to get in line with HIM…to fight our own personal battles knowing Somebody UP THERE had already won the war for us… that as a proof of the promised He had made that He will always be with us even to the end of time He instituted The Catholic Church through Peter and the rest of the Apostles and The Saints and Her caring and loving Mother… and He wants us not merely to share the graces we receive from HIS Father but also to reached out to other people as well so they can also migrate alongside us and the rest of the Universal Church with Jesus leading our way…Amen.