Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, holds Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Christus Vivit” (Christ Lives), during a news conference April 2. CNS photo/CNS photo/Paul Haring

YSN reacts to Christus Vivit

  • May 2, 2019

On April 2, Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation in response to the Synod on Young People last October. The YSN team carefully combed through the document and here are some of their reactions. 

We are agents of change

By Danielle Rivest

Pope Francis said that the heart of a young person is a “holy ground,” which speaks volumes about his attitude to today’s youth. 

I am grateful for this affirmation because it seeks to undo the dangerous stereotypes that blanket young people as a problem. Pope Francis reminds me that I am a solution, not a snag in the system. 

Being in my early 20s, there is an invisible yet powerful pressure to plan projections for my life. Often, this future-focused lens makes me feel there is something innately wrong with simply acting my age. 

However, Pope Francis affirms that I have the right to celebrate the beauty of this stage in my life. Pope Francis reminds me that, as a child of God, I deserve to not simply be acknowledged but to be affirmed, to not be simply listened to but to be heard. 

I believe that the Synod on Young People made significant strides in supporting and affirming the youth of today and I look forward to participating in a generation of activists seeking to sow goodness in the world.

Commitment and accountability

By Katherine Szojka

Following the events of the Synod closely last year, I realized how important my role is in the life of the Church. So I knew I wanted to read this document, making sure that I understood every bit of what Pope Francis is trying to tell me. 

The document, he wrote, was meant to “encourage you (us) to grow in holiness and commitment to personal vocation.” Young people in the West probably do not want to hear that right now, especially as there have been so many abuse scandals and that’s how many secular people view the Church. 

But I realized while reading this exhortation that the best thing I can do for the Church is doing what our Holy Father wants of us: to grow in holiness and commitment to personal vocation. 

After two reads of the exhortation in less than a week, I realized how miserable life would be to only be reading about such things and not living them!

Our Holy Father urges us to use our passions and drives to uphold moral standards and encourage our priests to be good and holy. When I see dysfunction or hurt in my daily life, I am reminded that through God’s grace, I can act and make a difference. My zeal for goodness should not be wasted, rather I should use it to want to grow in holiness and keep those with the same goal accountable. 

He believes in our dreams

By Janelle Lafantaisie

I skipped down precisely to the section about vocations because, if you’ve been following my work for the last year and a half, my vocation and calling are fundamental to me. 

The Holy Father also makes this statement which truly spoke to me: “It is true that you cannot live without working, and that sometimes you have to accept whatever is available, but I ask you never to give up on your dreams, never completely bury a calling and never accept defeat.”

This is such a true statement. I think that’s why we see more and more young people pursuing “side-hustles” and other vocations along with their “9-to-5” work. The Holy Father not only acknowledges that but affirms and encourages us not to give up on our dreams and not to bury our call.

The exhortation speaks to me because he touches on issues and matters that are relevant to me. It gives me so much hope in my personal life, and I continue to develop in my profession and my photography.

I look forward to reading more from this piece and encourage my fellow young people to do the same. 

A love letter to liturgy 

By Vincent Pham

As a Catholic liturgy-lover,  I am glad the Pope addressed the topic of liturgy in the exhortation (section 224). 

“We (the Church) need only find the right ways and means to help them embark on this precious experience,” he wrote of the liturgy. He acknowledged that many young people take part in Eucharistic Adoration and Bible study together, and that “many young people have come to appreciate silence and closeness to God.” 

In a day and age where it seems like youth do not give much attention to the liturgy and Sunday Mass, I find assurance reading this. My concern is that in my own community, there seems to be a lack of youth participation in the liturgy in general. 

I wonder what the Church and even the Archdiocese of Toronto will do to pull more Catholic youth into active participation in the liturgy. I hope that somehow the liturgical ministries can be “rebranded” in order to attract more youth. In many parishes I find it a pity that youth lack participation in the ministries of sacred music, altar serving and distribution of Holy Communion. 

I am by no means encouraging a new translation of the Roman Missal or any revisions to the celebration of liturgy for youth, but I think the Church should continue to call on youth to participate. 

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