Hearing the voice of the young
POPE Francis has frequently noted that the Church desires to hear the ideas of young people. In his 2017 letter to youth, one step in the Church’s preparation for the Synod on Youth held on Oct. 3 – 28, 2018, he wrote: “The Church wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.”
These inviting words were translated into deeds. Francis convoked a “pre-synod meeting,” held in Rome on March 19-24, 2018, seven months prior to the Synod. Young people (both Christians and the followers of other faiths) came “to express their expectations and desires as well as their uncertainties and concerns in the complex affairs of today’s world.” Similar events will be unfolding throughout the Philippines during the 2019 Year of the Youth.
To Dream and To Hope. In his homily for the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the Youth on Oct. 3, 2018, Pope Francis invoked the assistance of the Holy Spirit to “rekindle and renew” in the Church “the capacity to dream and to hope.” This demands an “attitude of docile listening to the voice of the Spirit” on the part of all the bishops “gathered from all parts of the world.”
Such dreaming and hoping “can broaden our horizons, expand our hearts, and transform those frames of mind that today paralyze, separate, and alienate us from young people, leaving them exposed to stormy seas, orphans without a faith community that should sustain them.”
For Pope Francis, “hope asks us to get up and look directly into the eyes of young people and see their situations.” Today’s youth “ask us and demand of us a creative dedication, a dynamism which is intelligent, enthusiastic, and full of hope.” For Francis, the Synod is a unique gift of the Spirit; he also entrusts it to Mother Mary so that the Church’s “dreams and hopes” for young people will be concretized and achieved.
Need to Listen Intensely. At the closing Mass of the Synod on the Youth, Pope Francis noted that there are three pivotal steps in the journey of faith: listening, being neighbor, and bearing witness. Francis notes that listening begins the journey of faith. “It is the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking.”
Francis asserts that careful listening is central for the success of the Synod. “May we too ask for the grace of a heart that listens. I would like to say to the young people, in the name of all of us adults: forgive us if often we have not listened to you…. As Christ’s Church, we want to listen to you with love…. Your lives are precious in our eyes.” We pray that our local Church here in the Philippines will become a truly “listening community” during this Year of the Youth!