Message for National Youth Day 2021
Dear young people,
Greetings of joy and peace!
This has yet been a very challenging year for all of us. We had to forego the usual national activities for the youth. I am sure, your usual gatherings have also been affected.
When something bad happens to us, when misfortune comes our way, when we fail or commit mistakes, we tend to blame others. At times, we justify ourselves with the circumstances of our life. And with the pandemic making things more difficult for us, we may be blaming the COVID19 virus, others, or even God.
Yet, may we realize and accept that “We are not products of circumstances. Rather, we are products of our own choices” (paraphrasing Stephen Covey).
In his message for the 36th World Youth Day, Pope Francis echoes to us the words of Jesus to St. Paul: “Stand up! I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen” (cf. Acts 26:16). In the same message, Pope Francis bids us: Arise!
We can take this call as a reminder for us to choose to stop blaming others or our circumstances. On the contrary, we can choose to take responsibility! Pope Francis reminds you: “There is a great potential in your hands. What great strength you have in your hearts.”
The times are difficult. We are limited in many ways. We see around us multiple scenes of weakness, despair, loss and death. Our fragility becomes clearer before our very eyes, mind and heart. Yet again, Pope Francis tells us: “In fragility, we discover virtues.” Indeed, as St. Paul says: “When I am weak, it is then that I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). In our weakness, sinfulness and loss, God reveals His powerful love and comes to rescue us.
As we march towards our yearly World Youth Day this Christ the King Sunday (transferred from Palm Sunday by Pope Francis starting this year) and our very own National Youth Day on December 16, we, your ECY Bishops, wish to add to the Arise summons of Pope Francis.
Thus, we say: young people…
Arise! Stop blaming others. Stop blaming your circumstances. Rather, take responsibility. Do not shy away from responsibilities; be ready and willing to make an account of your life. Maximize and share your talent, your time, your gifts and your life.
Arise! Resist evil and negativity. Do not allow yourselves to be enslaved by laziness and vices. In Christ, you have the power to conquer evil with good. Do not allow yourselves to be drowned by the tragedies and misfortunes you encounter. Do not let go of the light that gives you hope.
Arise! Do something. The present situation is difficult. You may not have all you need. You may not be in the best situation. Yet, you can start something good, even if it is small. Do your best to be constant and consistent in doing good. Remember: “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence” (Ovid).
Arise! Do something different. Ask yourself: If you keep doing the same things, should you expect different results? Dare to make a difference! “Fortune favors those who are courageous.” “Be not afraid”: St. Pope John Paul II echoes the words of Jesus.
Arise! Let us not give up on kindness and charity. Let us not give up the search for truth and justice. Let our mercy and compassion overflow. Let us be patient, gritty and persevering: “patience conquers all.”
Arise! Soon we shall choose our leaders on election time. Let us fight selfishness, indifference and apathy. Let us choose to care, to engage and make good choices. Our freedom is perfected by constantly choosing the good. Choosing evil is an abuse of our freedom.
Arise! Let us dream once again. When we stop dreaming, we gradually lose our reason for living. Young people, dream big. Let your dreams be not only for yourselves and for your family, but also for your community, for the needy. Dream for your fellow young people, your brothers and sisters, especially those in the margins.
Arise and dream once again for our beloved country, the Philippines. Let us save our country together. Let us not hurl stones at each other. We are not enemies; we are brothers and sisters. We need one another. Let us open our doors and hearts that we may understand each other.
Arise! Choose to act, and not be acted upon. Do not just wait. Take courage and take that first step with confidence in the Lord. You cannot make the second or third step unless you make the first step. It is better to have failed but have tried, rather than to have failed without even trying. Which is better: to light a candle or to curse the darkness? Indeed, “the easiest way to fail is not to try.”
Pope Francis gives us the example of St. Paul, who was once a persecutor of Christ’s followers, and yet because of Jesus’ mercy became His apostle. The message is clear: We can rise from our fall. We can be healed of our blindness. We can turn away from our evil ways. We are called to be bearers of the Good News. Jesus saves us! Do not be afraid to give witness to others about what you have seen and heard. “‘Parrhesia’–speak boldly”, says Pope Francis. Do not hide within yourselves the good, the true and the beautiful.
You are gifted to give. Continue being beloved, gifted and empowered young people in mission!
You may think this is impossible. Look at the example of the saints: they lived through very difficult situations during their lifetime, but they remained steadfast in their faith. They did not give up on loving.
But you might say, “Bishops, this is only for the saints!” Look around you! You will find many ordinary people, young and old who, with humble trust and quiet fidelity, make sacrifices daily to survive this pandemic and its ugly consequences. They do not lose hope. Theirs are lives that shine through the darkness of our present time.
Dear young people, arise! Let us journey together towards greater discipleship and mission. With other youth ministers, we commit to walk with you. Let us shine the light of Christ on those who have lost meaning, joy and fulfillment in life.
Arise, dear young people! Take advantage of your strength and passion. Most importantly, seek Jesus. He awaits to be your Best Friend; make friendship with Him. Discover the richness of His life and message, for the fullest meaning of our life and our mission can only be understood through Him (cf. Gaudete et Exsultate, 20), Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life! (Jn 14:6)
We reiterate the call of Pope Francis, using the words of Jesus to St. Paul:
I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen”
(cf. Acts 26:16).
We invoke God’s blessings for you, our dear young people. We wish you and your ecclesial communities a happy National Youth Day 2021, and another meaningful year of journeying together!
Chairman, Bishop of Daet
Most Rev. BARTOLOME G. SANTOS Jr. DD
Vice Chairman, Bishop of Iba
Most Rev. ANTONIETO D. CABAJOG, DD
Bishop of Surigao
Most Rev. LOUIE P. GALBINES, DD
Bishop of Kabankalan
Most Rev. ENRIQUE V. MACARAEG, DD
Bishop of Tarlac
Most Rev. MARVYN A. MACEDA, DD
Bishop of San Jose de Antique
Most Rev. PATRICK DANIEL Y. PARCON, DD
Bishop of Talibon
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
2021 October 22
Memorial of St. John Paul II
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