THE EDITOR: Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, “Christ is Alive,” was signed by Pope Francis in Loreto, at the Shrine of the Holy House, on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the seventh year of his pontificate.
It was released on April 2, the memorial of the death of Pope St John Paul II, who is a patron of young people. It contains nine chapters, 53 pages, 299 paragraphs, and 164 footnotes. In October 2018, the Vatican conducted a three-week synod in Rome on youth.
The exhortation is based on proposals presented at that synod. It is addressed to young people and to “the entire people of God.” As the US bishops said, this exhortation is “the fruit of the synodal journey in which we walked with and listened to young people.”
It is “a wonderful summons to the whole church to more vigorously invest in youth and young adults, especially those on the peripheries and those who are disconnected from the church… Now more than ever, we must turn our attention to our young people and engage them as ‘protagonists’ of the church’s mission. Their insights can help us grow as a church and guide us as we all learn to become better missionary disciples in an intercultural and intergenerational context.”
The exhortation is “a significant milestone of the synodal process begun by Pope Francis in 2016. After two years of consultation by episcopal conferences, movements, and Catholic organisations, along with a worldwide online survey and a pre-synod meeting with young adults in March 2018, the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops met in October 2018 on the theme ‘Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.’ Bishops, clergy, religious, and lay people, including a number of young people, together with Pope Francis, addressed the challenges facing younger generations today and ways in which the church can best respond.”
Gretchen R Crowe says there are four “takeaways” from this exhortation:
* Young people are rich in role models.
* The challenges facing the youth are real. But they find their antidote in three great truths.
* The key to making the years of youth count is friendship with the Lord.
* Discerning one’s vocation is how young people can respond to the plan the Lord has for them.
I encourage readers to study this exhortation which is full of nuggets of wisdom. Study it a bit at a time and reflect on how we can all invest in our youth/families in our communities; help them to build right relationships with Jesus, others, creation; and foster servant leadership among them.
Let us work in solidarity with our youth; embrace their gifts; help them to encounter Christ; create safe spaces for them to grow and flourish. Remember, we are on mission in the world together. Building the civilisation of love in our archdiocese/the world requires all hands on deck. I end with two quotations from the exhortation:
“As members of the church, we should not stand apart from others...Yet at the same time, we must dare to be different, to point to ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation, prayer, the pursuit of justice, and the common good. Love for the poor and social friendship” (para 36).
“If you have lost your inner vitality, your dreams, your enthusiasm, your optimism, and your generosity, Jesus stands before you as once he stood before the dead son of the widow, and with all the power of his resurrection, he urges you: ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Ok 7:14) (para 20).
And while Christians arise and continue to follow Christ, who is, indeed, alive, may adherents of other faiths follow the tenets of our faith and help build our nation.