Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP: Synod on Youth Blog Days 7 and 8

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP presents his book, “My Dear Young Friend,” to Pope Francis before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican on 4 October. PHOTO: CNS/Vatican Media

One Cardinal told the stories of various young people whose heroic YES to Christ inspires us all today. There is every cause to hope that bold young people today will do likewise.

Another spoke about mentoring. The Fathers read the story of the Good Samaritan as Christ redeeming fallen humanity. We have been in the ditch ourselves and, unless we speak from that experience in our mentoring and accompaniment, we will not speak to the young with authenticity.

A curial official said that, as important as any document that comes from the Synod is, the unparalleled process of consultation that took place prior to it is equally or more important.

One bishop asked: What is vocation? God’s call is first into life, then into faith, and so into humanisation and deification, and only thirdly to a particular path. The Church must engage in an ‘exegesis’ of each young person’s life, to join them in interrogating the signs of God’s particular path for them.

Another identified what might seem like the de-emphasis of the Instrumentum Laboris on the Sunday Eucharist, the liturgy and sacraments more generally, and asked that this be reflected in the next draft.

One bishop noted that in the Sistine Chapel the Redeemer is young. His body the Church must also be young (not a young, energetic head on a sclerotic, ageing ecclesial body!). Maintenance leadership must be replaced by the Pentecostal energy of the young Church and Church of the young.

Another said there is too much diffidence today about asking young people to enter priesthood etc. We are preparing now the future Pope, Cardinals, Bishops…

Pope Francis attends the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican on 9 October. PHOTO: CNS/Paul Haring

Among others, Synod Fathers and others identified the following challenges and/or made accompanying suggestions:

  • Confirmation is “the sacrament of departure” for many young people: we should not give First Communion and Confirm young people until much later
  • Mr Google is all-knowing and omnipresent but not wise or loving; young people still need reliable guides
  • Ill-prepared, populist, irregular liturgies
  • Poor spiritual directors and companions – or their lack
  • Some families discourage children from considering vocations and playing vocational games
  • The eclipse of God in our world costs us in humanity and thus in vocations
  • The social chaos in modern Egypt (as elsewhere) has had many ill-effects in young Christians; we must re-propose the Risen Christ and his ? for young people
  • It is symbolically and practically unhelpful for the young auditors to be grouped as they are at the back of the Synod Hall and only invited to speak towards the end of the day or of a session; they should be peppered among the fathers and the program

They also identified these things that work with many young people (among others):

  • Theology of the body
  • Pilgrimages and World Youth Days
  • Eucharistic adoration
  • “Do-cat” (Youth Catechism of Social Doctrine)
  • Pastors ‘wasting time’ with young people, in their spaces, kicking the ⚽️ with them
  • Solemn and beautiful liturgies
  • Spiritual fathers who know their limitations and speak out of their own experience of failure or suffering (more needed)
  • Spiritual companions as distinct from spiritual directors (need to be formed and made accessible)
  • The models of marriage/family therapy can be applied analogically to the Church’s relationship with her young ; we must fall in love again
  • Wayward youth who have turned or returned to the Lord can be powerful missionaries to their peers

Like the young apostle John at the Resurrection, youth can run ahead of us both leading Peter and needing his confirmation of what they think they see

 

 

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