Retrospective look, challenges for the future (1/11)

The Synod of Bishops held in Rome in October 2018, with the theme "Youth, faith and vocational discernment", has become an ecclesial event that concerns the youth from all over the world. For this reason, the Augustinian Recollect, Fr. Fabian Martin, presents in this article the general elements of the synod, followed by a reflection on ten important topics, considering the Conclusive Document of the synod itself.
Fabián Martín Gómez Pastoral | 2019 Mar 14 | Fabián Martín Gómez , Augustinian Recollect

"Through the sanctity of young people, the Church can renew its spiritual ardor and its apostolic vigor," the Document concludes.

The Catholic Church fulfills its mission of being light of the world and accompanying others in the process of rediscovering the joy of life and the beauty of growing together. The concrete decision to listen to the joys, sorrows and hopes of the people has been given the name of "synodality". The Catholic Church has become a synod, that is, a willingness and openness to walk beside humanity, to offer humanity a reason to live with hope, be strong in love and discover the beauty of faith.

The last synodal event considered the work and responsibility the Church has with the youth. From October 3 to October 28, 2018, the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in Rome. The  purpose was to get close to our youth and listen to their deepest longings and offer guidance as they encounter difficulties as Christ’s disciples. In this synod on youth, faith and vocational discernment, the young people were present, their voice resounded and with their voice the voice of the Spirit was also heard, pushing all to bring hope to the world.


One of the main fruits of this meeting, the bishops and young people who participated gave us a precious document entitled "Youth, faith and vocational discernment". The reflection that the young people and the bishops offer us is not just a product of an outpouring enthusiasm of one assembly, it is the result of two years of work. The celebration of the synod was preceded by a series of consultations within Christian communities from around the world, an online questionnaire was available to receive personal contributions from young people, congresses were held with the intervention of experts in the field, etc. All these contributions were summarized in the working material or Instrumentum laboris used in the Assembly.

The Assembly conclusions are included in the final document titled "Youth, faith and vocational discernment". The document has 3 parts, 12 chapters and 167 paragraphs. The thread of the text is the episode of the disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24, 13-35). Jesus walks with two disciples who experience the frustration of their dreams, and Jesus opens their minds so that they can understand their discipleship, he speaks to their hearts until they are able to open their eyes of faith and return with greater excitement back to Jerusalem. Undoubtedly, a paradigmatic text to understand the mission of the Church in reference to the youth.

The Synod Assembly used a methodology to discern what is the Church’s mission toward the youth. This methodology is based on three actions: recognize , interpret and choose. Each of these actions is marked by a short phrase from the episode of the disciples of Emmaus. Thus, the first part is entitled "He walked with them" (Lk 24, 15), it seeks to illuminate what the bishops recognized in the youth’s reality, the culture, and the contexts in which young people live. The second part is entitled "His eyes were opened" (Lk 24, 31), and this refers to the interpretive phase: based on the encounter with Christ, one seeks and tries to understanding the meaning of life. And the third part is entitled "They left without delay " ( Lk 24, 33), a choice is made in favor of an authentic spiritual, pastoral and missionary conversion.

In the coming weeks we will develop a summary of what can be considered the ten essential points of the document. For now we just mention the titles: "I walked with them"; the migrants, paradigm of our time; firm commitment against all types of abuse; the family as "Domestic Church"; art, music and sports, "pastoral resources"; mission and vocation; profile of a discernment companion; the art of discernment; the digital challenge; and the body, sexuality and affectivity .

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