2018 Synod of Bishops on Youth
As a contribution to the 2018 Synod of Bishops meeting on "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment," the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame convened a global panel of Synod delegates and young Catholics to give personal reflections on the themes of the Synod in light of the Catholic Church’s positive offerings to the young people of the world, with a particular focus on the transcendentals of beauty, truth, and goodness.
Guest speakers included Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka, Nigeria and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles. The full video of the October 4, 2018 panel can be seen on the CEC's YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGidNM7MsWA
Presentations were given by the following young panelists (click on the panelist's name to read their biographies and prepared remarks):
When we feed and nourish our souls and that of our neighbor, simply, with the two greatest commandments left by Our LORD; to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves and with no complexities to understanding them, then we cannot go wrong and this is what young people, today, need. If focus is placed, rather, on vain tendencies; creatures, material power and money, which are, but not essential, then poverty of the spirit stands to dominate.
Certainly, the holiness of the Church and the grace of the Sacraments do not depend on the holiness of its members or its leaders; but the role of the Church on earth is to reflect and participate in the self-giving love of God! How difficult it is to see parts of the Church abuse the vulnerable through a kind of manipulative power that subverts and rips that fabric of Catholic Social Teaching apart!
Somehow, looking at the wounded body of Christ, which is the Church, and the sorrow of Our Lady at the foot of the cross, I found hope. I understood that Jesus was moved by my suffering and loved me with a human heart. Through the Eucharist and Confession, I started to realize that I could actually be in an intimate relationship with God and that He wanted to share his life and divine love with me!
The world needs the Church to be a beacon of faith and hope -- to be the voice of Christ when we cannot hear it ourselves. Teach us to pray, to serve others, to receive the Sacraments, to pursue responsibility, to embrace our obligations to God and neighbor — which is to seek the real beauty in life.
I started to perceive in the Christians I had met the awareness that everyone of us is loved despite what he or she is and despite how he or she sees himself or herself. That is the experience of the Love that forgives you, comforts you, revives you, gets you back up. Always! In every moment! And I realized that the happiness I saw in those people was generated by the experience of this gratuitous, measureless Love.
The encounter with beauty -- even in those seemingly ordinary days of play in my childhood -- led me then -- and still leads to me to God. This was consistently emphasized in my family home. From discussing family history at the dinner table, to praying the rosary on family car trips, the life of our family’s ‘domestic Church’ always pointed to God through our experiences together.
It is such a transcendent experience to be driven by a Love that goes beyond my understanding! This also reminds me of the mystery that the Divine Artist can use any brush to paint his portrait on people’s hearts, even a little paintbrush like me!