Pope Francis’ decision to dedicate the 2018 Synod to the theme “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” was welcomed with gratitude and appreciation: “How beautiful… it’s what we needed!”
For the next two-year-period the Church will be engaged in listening to and reflecting on the voices of the young. With courage and truth the Church is resolved to accompany the complex and diversified situation of the young to identify, with infinite respect and total gratuitousness, their expectations as well as their resistance to live “in the faith and for the faith”
It is a Church that intends to voice the needs of the young by listening and reverberating their appeal to recover a central role in the present and for the future, mindful of their greatest fatigue, which involves the challenge of making a choice.
Young people are still capable of feeling enthusiasm and of accepting the challenges that life brings them, but their projects and their dreams clash against a social and cultural environment that appear unable to enhance their resources and ensure the minimum conditions enabling them to express their freedom of choice.
Surveys show that young people have an unhappy relationship with the future, which they perceive not as a promise but as a threat. Their relationship with the future is not a secondary issue, nor is it lived freely within the faith experience or in terms of a quest of meaning and as a choice of life:
A young person can bet on himself, he can learn to resist the temptation to give up at the first hitch. He can welcome and live the time of sacrifice and struggle.
The snapshot of the “millennials” that emerged in the findings of an accurate survey carried out by the Giuseppe Toniolo Institute (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart) highlighted significant aspects of the religious commitment of young people at national level, registered in the volume “Dio a modo mio. Giovani e fede in Italia” (by R. Bichi and Paola Bignardi; Vita e Pensiero Ed.s, 2015). There emerges an idea of God based on personalization, on “do-it-yourself”, thereby becoming a niche of individual ownership. The old cliché, “yes to Jesus Christ, no to the Church” seems to have been rebutted. In reality, the situation is much more complex: doctrinal issues do not interest the youth; such issues don’t succeed in being conveyed to the young as a message and even fail to give prominence to the figure of Jesus. “The faith is there, but it needs to grow, or rather, it needs to be developed. It’s like a sprout that struggles to flourish.”
From this perspective the theme of “vocational discernment” is a crucial theme.
Learning to discern means being helped in a research that involves selecting and integrating different and sometimes blurred values, preserving only what is important and good.
It means learning to seek the meaning of self-existence along with the way to live it responsibly, responding to the individual call of “blessedness” cherished in everyone’s hearts. Following a common horizon; being able to say to ourselves: “Why do you live? I live because I love” (Paul Evdokimov).