Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has engaged the youth and young adults of the Church, speaking directly to them numerous times, and encouraging them to become significantly more active in their spiritual lives.
As a 24-year-old millennial myself, I feel blessed to be among the vast audience of Catholic young people that the Pope is addressing, and I’m incredibly inspired by his words.
Pope Francis is calling us to be more than just “good Catholics” who attend Mass every week and go to confession when we’re supposed to. He wants us to be involved. He wants us to get our hands dirty, and be greater than ourselves for the glory of God. Without stepping out of context, I believe that Pope Francis is looking to the youth for an uprising, a rebellion, a revolution:
What do I expect as a consequence of the Youth Day? I expect a mess. There will be one. There will be a mess here in Rio? There will be! But I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out!
In order to answer the Pope’s call, I believe there are three distinct areas that we, the Catholic youth, should occupy. The first, and focus of this post, is the parish.
We have everything to gain from being active in the parish, and I’m a firm believer that every last one across the globe should have a heavy youth presence. Our place in society is rooted in the parish. It is where we come to celebrate the love of Christ, pray together, and receive Him. It is where we learn, grow, and worship as a Christian family. Really, where else would we start?
In his apostolic exhortation, Francis speaks about the role of each individual Catholic Church in its community.
Each particular Church, as a portion of the Catholic Church under the leadership of its bishop, is likewise called to missionary conversion. It is the primary subject of evangelization, since it is the concrete manifestation of the one Church in one specific place, and in it “the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative”. It is the Church incarnate in a certain place, equipped with all the means of salvation bestowed by Christ, but with local features.
There are obviously many volunteer opportunities that deal directly with Mass: reading, cantering, bringing up the gifts, taking up the offering, or serving as a Eucharistic minister. These are wonderful, noble tasks, and we should take advantage of them every time we have the chance. However, our involvement needs to expand further.
Get involved with parish activities, events, and fundraisers. Volunteer with your CYO group, and if your parish doesn’t have one, start one. For the older young adults, look into becoming a catechist or a sponsor for a convert. I would also encourage older youth and young adults to start a small Christian community within your church, as they are a great way to bond, share, and pray with one another outside of Mass.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to be active within our parish. By doing so, we are able to serve our Church and do good works for the faith, but perhaps most importantly, we build a sense of community with one another. We become bonded, and together, grow stronger. Organization and solidarity are vital to answering Pope Francis’ calling, because sooner than later, we have to take our mission beyond the walls of the Church and into modern society, which is exactly what we will talk about next time.