On January 13, 2017, the Holy See’s Press Office published Pope Francis’ Letter to Young People and held a press conference to present the Preparatory Document for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment” that is set to take place on October 2018.
In his letter, Pope Francis addresses young people by stating, “I want you to be the center of attention because you are in my heart” and entrusts the documents presented as a compass for the synodal journey.
The letter serves as an invitation to all young people to place their trust in Jesus who will guide them to fulfillment through their faith and vocational journey.
Here are a few important things to note in Pope Francis’ letter:
1. Jesus Invites You to Go
In his message, the pontiff invites young people to answer the Father’s call to go and “hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit,” and motivates them discover God’s plan for them and go to a new land which he describes as a “just and friendly society.”
2. Set Out Towards a Future That Will Surely Lead to Fulfillment
Acknowledging that following Jesus’ call to “go” leads to a future that is unknown, Pope Francis assures young people that it is a future that leads to fulfillment, and one in which Jesus himself accompanies you.
3. Discover God’s Plan in Your Life
Using the disciples’ example when they asked Jesus “where are you staying?,” Pope Francis says, “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.”
4. Don’t Journey Alone
Encouraging them to make their voices heard, Pope Francis calls on young people to not be afraid and to listen to the voice of the “Spirit who proposes bold choices,” and says, “do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master.” He assures them that “the Church wishes to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubt and your criticism.”
At the end of his letter Pope Francis entrusts young people to Mary of Nazareth. Just as she accompanied her Son on the road to Calvary, the Blessed Mother will surely be a companion to young people who set out on the path to follow Christ.