BISHOP’S SYNOD ON YOUTH, DISCERNMENT, AND VOCATION 2018
SYNODUS EPISCOPORUM WEBSITE
Download: FINAL DOCUMENT OF THE SYNOD ON YOUTH
July 2018: Instrumentum Laboris (Full text of working document to download) and the World Consulta of the Salesian Family
(ANS – Turin) – The mission of the Church to announce the joy of the Gospel, in relation to the specific mission of the Salesian Family: to announce it to the young people, by helping each of them to do wonders with their own existence. Fr Fabio Attard, Councillor General for the Salesian Youth Ministry, talked about this yesterday, Monday, May 22, at the World Consultative Body of the Salesian Family, which ends today in Turin. Fr Attard intervened, together with Sr Maria Teresa Spiga, a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians and Professor at the “Auxilium” Faculty, on the subject of the next Synod of Bishops: “Youth, faith and discernment”, in particular, by deepening the preparatory document of the Synod.
In his presentation, Fr Attard has explained how the document serves to arouse consultation throughout the Church, rather than to offer answers, and has offered an overview of the path along which the next Synod will be set (October 2018).
Then, recovering the structure of the preparatory document, he illustrated the fundamental social and cultural dynamics of today’s youth world: uncertainty, scientist culture, multicultural and multi-religious societies, desire to participate, search for reference points, hyper-connection …
He then deepened the fundamental steps of the vocational discernment process; he recalled the wisdom of the Eastern Church through the reference to the so-called “three births”: the physical one, that one through the Baptism, and the spiritual one, which opens to the mature exercise of one’s own freedom; and the phases through which it will be accomplished: the identification of a plan of God for each one, the interpretation of God’s messages, and the final decision.
In this sense, he reiterated how important is the personal accompaniment of the young people within the process of discernment, since even if there are decisive moments or meetings and texts and reflections of great value, the discernment takes place through a gradual progress and through an own individual experience.
Finally, he has put forward some indications in order to take seriously the challenge of the pastoral care and the vocational discernment of young people: to walk together with the young people, being among them; to encourage their meeting with responsible communities, by offering them authoritative and of reference figures; to find daily meeting places (parishes, universities, associations, new media), as extraordinary events (World Youth Days, included in this daily report); to care for suitable languages and paths; and, last but not least, to be sure to propose contemplation, prayer, listening activities … and to entrust everything to Mary’s maternal intercession.
LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO YOUNG PEOPLE ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE PREPARATORY DOCUMENT
OF THE 15th ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
My Dear Young People,
I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.
I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.
When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?
But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).
I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.
In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, […], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).
A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also 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. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).
Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).
With paternal affection,
Given at the Vatican, 13 January 2017