“I want important responsibilities to be given to you within the Church; that there may be the courage to make space for you; and that you may be prepared to take on these responsibilities.” The Pope’s message for the next World Youth Day – to be celebrated at diocesan level on March 25, Palm Sunday, on the theme, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God” – is under the banner of mutual trust between Francis and young people. “Courage” is the key word for “discernment” on one’s vocation, in the present moment, and thus prepare for the two events with the Synod in October and the WYD in Panama: “Mary walks with us.” It’s important to avert the risk of being absorbed by digital rationale, spending one’s life facing the screen of a smartphone or a computer.
When we are faced with the fundamental choices on which depend who we will be and what we will do in this world we feel a “shudder”, said the Pope mentioning the “underlying fear” of many young people of not being accepted for who they are. Continuous “photo-shops” of their images almost make them become “fake-selves”, obsessed by receiving as many “likes” as possible. Not to mention emotional insecurity, the fear of remaining alone and the uncertainty of work. In the face of these doubts and fears – Francis went on – discernment becomes necessary “to bring order to the confusion of our thoughts and feelings, to act in a just and prudent way.” The first step to overcome fears is to name them, looking within ourselves, for in many cases the obstacle to faith is not scepticism but fear.
“For us Christians in particular, fear must never have the last word but rather should be an occasion to make an act of faith in God… and in life! Never close yourself in! In the Sacred Scriptures the expression “do not be afraid” is repeated 365 times with different variations, as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year”, Francis said.
When searching for one’s vocation in life discernment should not be seen as “an individual effort at introspection”: it is “a call from above.” God knocks at the door of our hearts, as he did with Mary. The answer consists in not only prayer, in the Sacred Scriptures, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It is also important to dialogue with and encounter those who have more experience, for they help us to see better and to choose wisely from the various possibilities. “In your doubts know that you can rely on the Church”, writes the Pope mentioning the many “good priests”, consecrated men and woman, who can give support like older brothers and sisters in the faith.
“Dear young people, do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone. Open wide the doors of your life! May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people, with whom to share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life”, is the message’s central invitation.
“Create spaces in our cities and communities to grow, to dream and to look at new horizons!”, is the Pope’s appeal, along with
“the courage to disentangle ourselves from the pressure of being shaped by conforming patterns”,
for God calls each one of us by name we do not have to earn His closeness and help by presenting a “Curriculum Vitae of excellence.” “WYD is for the courageous!”, concluded Francis, calling upon young people to have courage in the present moment.