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Celibacy…To Love as Christ Loves
Contents:


  1. Cardinal Turkson: Agriculture is a vocation
  2. Cardinal Turkson: Agriculture is a vocation | St. Joseph Catholic Church
  3. The Church - Its Nature, Principles and Vocation

Are these general views applicable to the choice of a state of life? The solution of this question involves that of the vocation itself. The special rules are to be found in Holy Scripture and Tradition. In Holy Scripture we read those general counsels of self-denial which all Christians are called upon to follow during their lives, while they are the object of a more complete application in a state which for that very reason may be called a state of perfection. Efficacious grace, notably that of perfect continence, is not given to all. He that can take, let him take it" Matthew , Catholic interpreters, however, basing their conclusion on the Fathers of the Church , are at one in saying that God bestows this gift either on all that pray for it as they should, or at any rate on the generality of those who dispose themselves to receive it see Beelen, Kanbenbauer, on this passage.

But the choice is left free. Paul , speaking of the same Christian , says "he that giveth his virgin in marriage, doth well; and he that giveth her not, doth better" 1 Corinthians On the other hand, he must be guided by sound reason: "But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt" 1 Corinthians Moreover, the Apostle gives this general advice to his disciple Timothy: "I will therefore that the younger [ widows ] should marry" 1 Timothy And yet, whatever his profession or condition, man is not abandoned by Providence: "As the Lord has distributed to every one, as God hath called every one, so let him walk" 1 Corinthians Holy Scripture therefore applies to the profession of every man the general principles laid down above.

Nor is there any trace of an exception in the Fathers of the Church : they insist on the general application of the evangelical counsels, and on the importance of following them without delay; and on the other hand, they declare that the choice is free, without danger of incurring the loss of God's favour.

They wish, however, that the choice should be prudently and reasonably exercised. See St. Basil , "On virginity", n. Gregory Nazianzen , "Against Julian", 1st discourse, n. Matthew, XIX, xi P. John Chrysostom , "On virginity"; "On penitence", Hom. VI, n. Matthew 19 P. Cyprian , "De habitu virginum", xxiii P. Ambrose , "De viduis", xii, xiii P. Jerome Ep. Matthew, XIX, xi, xii P. Augustine , "De bono coniugali", x; "De sancta virginitate", xxx P. These texts are examined in Vermeersch, "De vocatione religiosa et sacertodali", taken from the second volume of the same author's "De religiosis institutis et personis" suppl.

In comparison with such numerous and distinct declarations, two or three insignificant passages [ St. Gregory , Ep. LXV P. Bernard, Ep. Neither St. II; nor Passerini, "De hominum statibus" in Q. States of life are freely chosen and at the same time providentially given by God. The higher the state of life the more clearly do we find the positive action of Providence in the choice.

In the case of most men, no Divine decree , logically anterior to the knowledge of their free actions, assigns to them this or that particular profession. The path of the evangelical counsels is in itself, open to all, and preferable for all, but without being directly or indirectly obligatory. In exceptional cases the obligation may exist as the consequence of a vow or of a Divine order, or of the improbability which is very rare of otherwise finding salvation. More frequently reasons of prudence , arising from the character and habits of the persons concerned, make it unadvisable that he should choose what is in itself the best part, or duties of filial piety or justice may make it impossible.

This feeling is not necessary , and is not to be trusted without reserve, though it may help to decide the kind of order which would best suit us. Nor can we admit the principle adopted by St. Alphonsus : that God determines for every man his state of life On the choice of a state of life. Alphonsus incorrectly grounds his argument, says, on the contrary, that God often refrains from indicating any preference but that which results from the unequal excellence on honourable conditions.

And in the celebrated passage "every one hath his proper gift from God " 1 Corinthians St. Paul does not intend to indicate any particular profession as a gift of God , but he makes use of a general expression to imply that the unequal dispensation of graces explains the diversity of objects offered for our choice like the diversity of virtues. We agree with Liguori when he declares that whoever, being free from impediment and actuated by a right intention, is received by the superior is called to the religious life.

See also St. Francis of Sales, Epistle Paris, ed. The rigourist influences to which St. Alphonsus was subjected in his youth explain the severity which led him to say that a person's eternal salvation chiefly depended on this choice of a state of life conformable to the Divine election. If this were the case, God , who is infinitely good, would make His will known to every man in a way which could not be misunderstood. Sources The opinion advocated in this article is corroborated by the favourable decision of the Commission of Cardinals 20 June, , appointed to examine the work of Canon Joseph Lahitton, La vocation sacerdotale Paris, ; the decision of the cardinals has been fully approved by the pope.

APA citation. Vermeersch, A. Ecclesiastical and Religious Vocation. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. MLA citation. Vermeersch, Arthur. New York: Robert Appleton Company, Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, Remy Lafort, S.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. They provide an extraordinary opportunity for dialogue, encounter and exchange between persons, as well as access to information and knowledge. Moreover, the digital world is one of socio-political engagement and active citizenship and it can facilitate the circulation of independent information that can provide effective protection for the most vulnerable, publicizing violations of their rights. In many countries, internet and social networks already represent a firmly established forum for reaching and involving young people, not least in pastoral initiatives and activities.

Digital media can expose people to the risk of dependency, isolation and gradual loss of contact with concrete reality, blocking the development of authentic interpersonal relationships. Finally, there are huge economic interests operating in the digital world, capable of exercising forms of control as subtle as they are invasive, creating mechanisms of manipulation of consciences and of the democratic process.

The way many platforms work often ends up favouring encounter between persons who think alike, shielding them from debate. These closed circuits facilitate the spread of fake news and false information, fomenting prejudice and hate. The proliferation of fake news is the expression of a culture that has lost its sense of truth and bends the facts to suit particular interests. The reputation of individuals is put in jeopardy through summary trials conducted online. The Church and her pastors are not exempt from this phenomenon.

Migration considered globally is a structural phenomenon, not a passing emergency. Migration may occur within a country or between different countries. In general they are seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. They dream of a better future and they want to create the conditions for attaining it. Other migrants are attracted by Western culture, and sometimes they form unrealistic expectations which expose them to grave disappointments. Unscrupulous traffickers, often linked to drug cartels or arms cartels, exploit the weakness of migrants, who too often experience violence, trafficking, psychological and physical abuse and untold sufferings on their journey.

Nor must we overlook the particular vulnerability of migrants who are unaccompanied minors or the situation of those compelled to spend many years in refugee camps or those who remain trapped for a long time in transit countries, without being able to pursue a course of studies or to express their talents. In some host countries, migration causes fear and alarm, often fomented and exploited for political ends. This can lead to a xenophobic mentality, as people become closed in on themselves, and this needs to be addressed decisively.

Young migrants experience separation from their place of origin and often a cultural and religious uprooting as well. Fragmentation is also felt by the communities they leave behind, which lose their most vigorous and enterprising elements, and by the families, especially when one or both of the parents migrates, leaving the children in the country of origin. The Church has an important role as a point of reference for the young members of these divided families. But the stories of migrants are also stories of encounter between persons and between cultures: for the communities and societies where they arrive, they bring an opportunity for enrichment and the integral human development of all.

Initiatives of welcome involving the Church have an important role from this perspective and they can bring new life to the communities capable of adopting them. Given the varied backgrounds of the Synod Fathers, the theme of migrants saw many different perspectives coming together, in particular between countries of departure and countries of arrival. Moreover, alarm bells sounded from the Churches whose members are forced to escape war and persecution and who see these forced migrations as a threat to their survival.

The various forms of abuse perpetrated by certain bishops, priests, religious and laypersons give rise in the victims, many of whom are young, to sufferings that can last a lifetime and that no repentance can remedy. This phenomenon is widespread in society and it affects the Church too and represents a serious obstacle to her mission. The Synod underlines the firm commitment to adopt rigorous preventative measures intended to avoid any recurrence, starting with the selection and formation of those to whom tasks of responsibility and education will be entrusted.

Abuse exists in various forms: abuse of power, abuse of conscience, sexual or financial abuse. Clearly, the ways of exercising authority that make all this possible have to be eradicated and the irresponsibility and lack of transparency with which so many cases have been handled have to be challenged. The desire to dominate, the lack of dialogue and transparency, forms of double life, spiritual emptiness, as well as psychological weaknesses are the ground on which corruption thrives. The Synod appreciates and encourages also the sincere commitment of countless lay men and women, priests, consecrated men, consecrated women and bishops who devote themselves every day with honesty and dedication to the service of the young.

Their work is like a forest that grows silently. Many of the young people present at the Synod also expressed thanks for those who have accompanied them and they emphasized the great need for figures of reference. The Lord Jesus, who never abandons his Church, offers her the strength and the tools to set out on a new path.

The family continues to be the principal point of reference for young people. Children appreciate the love and care of their parents, they hold family ties dear and they hope to succeed in forming a family in their turn. Undoubtedly the increase in separations, divorces, second unions and one-parent families can cause great suffering and identity crises in young people. Sometimes they must shoulder responsibilities disproportionate to their age which force them to become adults ahead of time.

Grandparents often make a decisive contribution in affection and religious education: with their wisdom they are a decisive link in the relationship between generations. Mothers and fathers have distinct roles but they are equally important as points of reference in forming children and passing on the faith to them. The maternal figure continues to have a role that young people consider essential for their growth, even if it is not sufficiently recognized in cultural, political and employment terms.

Many fathers perform their own role with dedication, but we cannot conceal the fact that in some contexts, the paternal figure is absent or evanescent, and in others oppressive or authoritarian. These ambiguities are also reflected in the exercise of spiritual paternity. The Synod recognizes the dedication of many parents and teachers who are deeply committed to the transmission of values, notwithstanding the difficulties of the cultural context.

In some regions, the role of the elderly and reverence for ancestors are key elements for education and contribute strongly to the formation of personal identity. The extended family — which in some cultures is what the family really means — also plays an important role. Some young people, though, find family traditions oppressive and they flee from them under the impulse of a globalized culture that sometimes leaves them without points of reference.

In other parts of the world, though, there is no actual generational conflict between young people and their elders, but rather a mutual estrangement. In this way the relationship between young people and their elders risks remaining on the affective level, leaving the educative and cultural dimensions untouched.

The young are focused on the future and they face life with energy and dynamism. But they are also tempted to concentrate on enjoying the present and sometimes they tend to give little attention to the memory of the past from which they come, in particular the many gifts transmitted to them by their parents, their grandparents and the cultural baggage of the society in which they live. Helping the young discover the living richness of the past, treasuring its memory and making use of it for their choices and opportunities, is a genuine act of love towards them for the sake of their growth and the choices they are called upon to make.

Alongside intergenerational relationships, those between contemporaries are not to be overlooked. These represent a fundamental experience of interaction and gradual emancipation from the family context of origin. Friendship and debate, often within more or less structured groups, offer the opportunity to strengthen social and relational skills in a context in which one is neither valued nor judged. Group experience is also a great resource for sharing the faith and for mutual help in witness. The young are able to guide other young people and to exercise a genuine apostolate among their friends.


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The young recognize how important the body and sexuality are for their lives and for the growth of their identity, since they cannot live friendship and affectivity without these. In the modern world, though, they encounter phenomena in rapid evolution in regard to these things. Above all, developments in science and in biomedical technologies have a strong influence on the perception of the body, leading to the idea that it is open to unlimited modification.

The capacity to intervene in DNA, the possibility of inserting artificial elements into the organism cyborg and the development of neurosciences constitute a great resource, but at the same time they raise anthropological and ethical questions. Moreover, in some youth circles, there is a growing fascination for risk-taking behaviour as a tool for self-exploration, for seeking powerful emotions and obtaining recognition. Such phenomena, to which young generations are exposed, constitute an obstacle for serene maturation.

They point to social forces that are utterly new and that influence personal choices and experiences, making them fertile terrain for a kind of ideological colonization. This is the context in which Christian families and ecclesial communities seek to help young people discover sexuality as a great gift indwelt by Mystery, so as to live relationships according to the logic of the Gospel. But they do not always succeed in translating this aspiration into a thorough affective and sexual education, going above and beyond occasional input.

Where such education has been genuinely taken up as an option to be proposed, there are positive results which help young people grasp the relationship between their adherence to faith in Jesus Christ and their way of living affectivity and interpersonal relationships. But the young, including those who know this teaching and live by it, express a wish to hear from the Church a clear, humane and empathetic word.

Frequently, though, sexual morality gives rise to incomprehension and distancing from the Church, inasmuch as she is perceived as a space of judgement and condemnation. In the face of social changes and new ways of living affectivity and the multiplicity of ethical perspectives, the young show themselves sensitive to the value of authenticity and dedication, but are often disoriented. They express more particularly an explicit desire to debate questions concerning the difference between masculine and feminine identity, the reciprocity between men and women, and homosexuality.

The world of work remains an area in which the young express their creativity and their innovative capacity. At the same time they experience forms of exclusion and marginalization. The first and most serious is youth unemployment, which in some countries reaches exorbitant levels. In many countries this situation depends on the fact that some swathes of the young population lack adequate professional skills, perhaps because of deficiencies in the educational and formational system.

Often the precariousness in employment that afflicts the young is linked to economic interests that exploit labour. Many young people live in war zones and they experience violence in countless different forms: kidnappings, extortion, organized crime, human trafficking, slavery and sexual exploitation, wartime rape, etc. Other young people, because of their faith, struggle to find their place in society and they undergo various types of persecution, even to death.

Plenty of young people, whether through force or through lack of alternatives, live by committing crimes and acts of violence: child soldiers, armed gangs, criminal gangs, drug-trafficking, terrorism, etc. This violence destroys many young lives. Abuses and dependencies, just like violence and deviance, are among the reasons that lead young people into prison, with a higher incidence in certain ethnic and social groups.

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All these situations present the Church with questions. Even more numerous in the world are the young people who suffer forms of marginalization and social exclusion, for religious, ethnic or economic reasons. Let us recall the difficult situation of adolescents and young people who become pregnant and the plague of abortion, as also the spread of HIV, the various forms of dependency drugs, gambling, pornography, etc.

Various interventions underlined the need for the Church to value the skills of excluded young people and the contributions they can offer to their communities. The Church should courageously take their side, accompanying them as they set about regaining their dignity and a role in building the common good. Contrary to a widespread stereogype, the world of young people is profoundly marked by the experience of vulnerability, disability, sickness and suffering.

The young who experience these various trials, together with their families, count on the support of Christian communities, but these communities are not always adequately equipped to welcome them. The young who live in these situations have precious resources to share with the community and they teach us to measure ourselves against the limit, helping us to grow in humanity. There is no end to the creativity with which a community animated by Gospel joy can present an alternative to malaise and to situations of hardship.

In this way society can experience that the stones rejected by the builders can become cornerstones cf. The way young generations approach reality has some particular characteristics. The young ask to be accepted and respected in their originality. To mention some of the most evident characteristics of youth culture, preference is given to the image over and above other forms of communication, importance is attached to sensations and emotions as a way of approaching reality and priority is given to the concrete and the operative rather than to theoretical analysis.


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  5. Friendship is very important for them, as is belonging to peer groups, held together through social media. The young are generally spontaneous and open with regard to diversity, and this makes them attentive to the themes of peace, inclusiveness and dialogue between cultures and religions. There is plenty of evidence from many parts of the world that the young know how to be pioneers of intercultural and interreligious encounter and dialogue, in the context of peaceful coexistence.

    Alongside some who are indifferent, there are many others who are ready to commit themselves to initiatives of voluntary work, active citizenship and social solidarity, and they need to be accompanied and encouraged, so as to bring out their talents, skills and creativity and to provide incentives for them to assume responsibility. Social commitment and direct contact with the poor remain a fundamental opportunity for discovery or deepening of faith and discernment of vocation.

    Cardinal Turkson: Agriculture is a vocation

    It has also been pointed out that the young are ready to engage in the political field so as to build the common good, something that the Church has not always been able to accompany by providing opportunities for formation and spaces for discernment. With regard to the promotion of justice, the young ask the Church to show decisive and consistent engagement, stamping out any complicity with a worldly mentality.

    The Synod recognizes and appreciates the importance that the young give to artistic expression in all its forms: there are many young people who use their God-given talents in this field, promoting beauty, truth and goodness, growing in humanity and in their relationship with God. For many, artistic expression is also an authentic professional vocation. Music is particularly important, representing as it does a real environment in which the young are constantly immersed, as well as a culture and a language capable of arousing emotion and shaping identity. Musical language also represents a pastoral resource with a particular bearing on the liturgy and its renewal.

    The standardization of tastes through commercial interests sometimes risks compromising the link with traditional forms of musical and liturgical expression. Equally significant is the emphasis that young people place on sporting activity, whose potential for education and formation the Church must not underestimate, maintaining a solid presence there.

    The world of sport needs to be helped to overcome the ambiguities by which it is afflicted, such as the idolization of champions, subservience to commercial interests and the ideology of success at any cost. One way forward is to underline the value of accompaniment and support for the disabled in sporting activity. The religious experience of the young is strongly influenced by the social and cultural context in which they live.

    In some countries the Christian faith is a strong and lively community experience, in which the young participate with joy. In other places still, Catholics along with other Christian denominations form a minority that sometimes experiences discrimination or even persecution. It is not possible to speak of the religiosity of the young without taking all these differences into account. In general the young say they are searching for the meaning of life and they show interest in spirituality. This attention, though, can sometimes take the form of a search for psychological well-being rather than openness to encounter with the Mystery of the living God.

    Particularly in some cultures, many see religion as a private matter and they choose from a variety of spiritual traditions those elements in which they find their own convictions mirrored. There thus spreads a certain syncretism, which develops on the relativistic assumption that all religions are equal. Adherence to a community of faith is not seen by everyone as a privileged way to access the meaning of life, and it is accompanied and sometimes replaced by ideologies or by the cult of success in professional and economic terms, with a view to material self-fulfilment.

    Certain practices inherited from tradition remain alive, though, such as pilgrimages to shrines, which at times involve large numbers of young people, and expressions of popular piety, often linked to devotion to Mary and the Saints, which preserve the faith experience of a people. The same variety is found in the relationship of the young with the figure of Jesus. Many recognize him as Saviour and Son of God and they often feel close to him through Mary, his mother, and they commit themselves to a journey of faith.

    Others have no personal relationship with him, but consider him a good man and an ethical point of reference. Others again encounter him through a powerful experience of the Spirit. For others, though, he is a figure from the past who is very remote from human experience and has no relevance for their lives. Even though to many young people God, religion and the Church seem empty words, they are sensitive to the figure of Jesus when he is presented in an attractive and effective way. In many settings, young Catholics ask for prayer opportunities and sacramental celebrations capable of impacting upon their daily lives through a fresh, authentic and joyful liturgy.

    In some parts of the world liturgical experience is the principal resource for Christian identity and there is a good level of participation, with conviction. The young see the liturgy as a privileged moment of experience of God and of the ecclesial community and a point of departure for the mission. Elsewhere, though, we are witnessing a certain abandonment of the sacraments and of the Sunday Eucharist, perceived more as a moral precept than as a joyful encounter with the Risen Lord and the community.

    In general it seems that even where sacramental catechesis is offered, there is little by way of educative accompaniment for living the celebration profoundly, for entering into the mysterious riches of its symbols and its rites. Among the themes they hold most dear are social and environmental sustainability, discrimination and racism. The Synod is aware that a substantial number of young people, for all sorts of reasons, do not ask the Church for anything because they do not see it as significant for their lives.

    Some, on the contrary, expressly ask to be left alone, as they find the presence of the Church a nuisance, even an irritant. Young Catholics are not merely on the receiving end of pastoral activity: they are living members of the one ecclesial body, baptized persons in whom the Spirit of the Lord is alive and active. They help to enrich what the Church is and not only what she does. They are her present and not only her future. The young are protagonists in many Church activities in which they offer their services generously, particularly through leading catechesis and liturgy, caring for the weak, voluntary work with the poor.

    Movements, associations and religious congregations also offer young people opportunities for commitment and co-responsibility. Sometimes the availability of the young meets with a certain authoritarianism and mistrust from older people and pastors, who do not sufficiently recognize their creativity and who struggle to share responsibility. The young also clamour for greater recognition and greater valuing of women in society and in the Church.

    Many women play an essential part in Christian communities, but often it is hard to involve them in decision-making processes, even when these do not require specific ministerial responsibilities. The Synod recommends that everyone be made more aware of the urgency of an inevitable change, not least on the basis of anthropological and theological reflection on the reciprocity between men and women. In various contexts there are groups of young people, often from ecclesial movements and associations, who are actively involved in the evangelization of their peers through a transparent life witness, accessible language and the capacity to establish authentic bonds of friendship.

    This apostolate makes it possible to bring the Gospel to people who might not otherwise be reached by ordinary youth ministry and it helps to mature the faith of those who engage in it. So it deserves to be appreciated, supported, wisely accompanied and integrated into the lives of communities. The young ask the Church to offer a shining example of authenticity, exemplariness, competence, co-responsibility and cultural solidity.

    At times this request can seem like a criticism, but often it assumes the positive form of personal commitment to a fraternal, welcoming, joyful and committed community, prophetically combatting social injustice. Among the expectations of the young, one that stands out particularly is the desire for the Church to adopt a less paternalistic and more candid style of dialogue.

    Cardinal Turkson: Agriculture is a vocation | St. Joseph Catholic Church

    So they drew near to the village to which they were going. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. The Holy Spirit inflames the heart, opens the eyes and awakens the faith of the two wayfarers. He acts in every time and in every place, in the variety of contexts and cultures, calling forth even in the midst of difficulties and sufferings the commitment to justice, the search for truth, the courage of hope.

    The desire for life in love and the healthy restlessness that is found in the hearts of young people form part of the great longing of all creation for the fullness of joy. In each of them, including those who do not know Christ, the Creator Spirit acts so as to lead them to beauty, goodness and truth. Youth is an original and stimulating stage in life, which Jesus himself experienced, thereby sanctifying it. It is not about creating a new Church for the young, but rather rediscovering with them the youth of the Church, opening ourselves to the grace of a new Pentecost.

    In the journey of Christian initiation, it is above all Confirmation that allows believers to relive the Pentecostal experience of a new outpouring of the Spirit for growth and mission. It is important to rediscover the richness of this sacrament, to grasp its link with the personal vocation of every baptized person and with the theology of charisms, to take greater care over the way it is presented pastorally, so that it does not become a formal and insignificant moment.

    In Christian communities we sometimes risk proposing, even without intending it, an ethical and therapeutic theism, which responds to the human need for security and comfort, rather than a living encounter with God in the light of the Gospel and in the strength of the Spirit. If it is true that life is awakened solely through life, it becomes clear that young people need to encounter Christian communities that are truly rooted in friendship with Christ, who leads us to the Father in the communion of the Holy Spirit.

    Contemplating his life is the best way to grasp the blessing of youth: Jesus had an unconditional trust in the Father, he maintained friendship with his disciples and even in moments of crisis he remained faithful to them. He showed a profound compassion for the weakest, especially the poor, the sick, sinners and the excluded.

    In Jesus, all the young can see themselves, with their fears and their hopes, their uncertainties and their dreams and they can entrust themselves to him. Listening to Christ and communion with him help pastors and educators to cultivate a wise interpretation of this stage in life. We believe that even today God speaks to the Church and to the world through the young, their creativity and their commitment, as well as their sufferings and their pleas for help.

    Youth, as a phase in the development of the personality, is marked by dreams which gather momentum, by relationships which acquire more and more consistency and balance, by trials and experiments, and by choices which gradually build a life project. At this stage in life, the young are called to move forward without cutting themselves off from their roots, to build autonomy, but not in solitude. The social, economic, cultural context does not always offer favourable conditions. Many young saints have allowed the features of youth to shine forth in all their beauty and in their day they have been real prophets of change.

    Their example shows what the young are capable of when they open themselves up to encounter with Christ. Young people with disabilities or marked by illness can also offer a valuable contribution. The Synod invites communities to make room for initiatives that recognize and permit them to be protagonists, for example through the use of sign language for the deaf, suitably tailored catechetical programmes, social experiences and work experience.

    The young experience a restlessness that above all is to be accepted, respected and accompanied, with utter confidence in their freedom and responsibility. The Church knows from experience that their contribution is fundamental for renewal. Young people, in some respects, can be a step ahead of their pastors. On Easter morning the young Beloved Disciple arrived first at the tomb, before Peter, who was weighed down by age and by betrayal cf. At the same time, the attitude of the Beloved Disciple indicates that it is important to remain in touch with the experience of the elderly, to recognize the role of pastors and not to go forward alone.

    Hence the symphony of voices that is the fruit of the Spirit. The young, like everyone else, also carry wounds. There are the wounds of the defeats they have suffered, frustrated desires, experiences of discrimination and injustice, of not feeling loved or recognized. There are physical and psychological wounds. Christ, who consented to endure his passion and death, comes close, through his cross, to all suffering young people.

    The Church is called to support all the young in their trials and to promote whatever pastoral action may be needed. Youth is a time of life which has to come to an end, to make way for adult life. This transition does not take place automatically, but it implies a journey of maturation, not always helped by the environment in which young people live.

    Yet youth cannot remain on hold. It is the age of choices and herein lies its fascination and its greatest responsibility. Young people take decisions in professional, social and political fields and in other more radical ways that determine the shape of their lives. This statement sheds a profound light on life choices, because it invites us to make them within the liberating horizon of self-giving.

    This is the only way to arrive at an authentic and lasting happiness! Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. Without misleading the young through minimalist proposals or overwhelming them with a corpus of rules that give Christianity a reductive and moralistic image, we are called to invest in their fearlessness and to educate them to take on responsibilities, in the sure knowledge that error, failure and crisis are experiences that can strengthen their humanity. In order to undertake a true journey of maturation, the young need authoritative adults.

    In the episode of the healing of the possessed epileptic cf. Jesus fully exercises his authority: he wants nothing other than the growth of the young person, without a trace of possessiveness, manipulation or seduction. Yet families do not always teach their children to consider the future through the lens of vocation. Sometimes the desire for social prestige and personal success, the ambition of parents or a tendency to determine the choices of their children leave little room for discernment and condition the decisions that are made.

    The Synod recognizes the need to help families arrive at a clearer understanding of life as a vocation. The Gospel account of the adolescent Jesus cf. Freedom is the essential condition for every authentic life choice. Yet there is a risk of it being misunderstood, not least because it is often inadequately presented. The Church herself comes across to many young people as an institution that imposes rules, prohibitions and obligations.

    In the light of the Gospel, it is helpful today to acknowledge more clearly that freedom is essentially relational and to show that passions and emotions matter in so far as they guide us towards authentic encounter with others. This perspective clearly shows that true freedom is intelligible and possible only in relation to truth cf. Through lived experience of fraternity and solidarity, especially with the lowliest, young people learn that authentic freedom comes from feeling accepted, and the more we make space for others, the more it grows.

    They have a similar experience when they make a commitment to simplicity of life or respect for the environment. When they experience mutual recognition and shared commitment, they discover within their hearts a silent appeal to love that comes from God. This makes it easier to recognize the transcendent dimension that lies at the heart of freedom and that comes alive through contact with the most intense life experiences — birth and death, friendship and love, guilt and forgiveness.

    These are the experiences that help us to see that the nature of freedom is radically responsorial. Ecclesiam Suam , So faith is not an element added to freedom as if from outside, but it fulfils the desire of conscience for truth, goodness and beauty, rediscovering them fully in Jesus. The witness of so many young martyrs past and present, echoed powerfully at the Synod, is the most convincing proof that faith makes us free in the face of the powers of this world, in the face of its injustices and even in the face of death.

    Human freedom is scarred by wounds from personal sin and from concupiscence. But when, by experiencing forgiveness and mercy, people become aware of the obstacles that imprison them, they grow in maturity and can commit themselves with greater transparency in definitive life choices. From an educative perspective, it is important to help young people not to feel discouraged in the face of errors and failures, even humiliating ones, because these form an integral part of the journey towards a more mature freedom, aware of its greatness and its weakness.

    He loved us to the end and thus he ransomed our freedom. The account of the call of Samuel cf. As for the young Samuel, so too for every man and every woman — vocation, while it may have strong and privileged moments, involves a long journey. The Word of the Lord needs time to be understood and interpreted; the mission to which it calls is revealed step by step. The young are fascinated by the adventure of gradual self-discovery.

    They learn willingly from the activities they carry out, from their encounters and their relationships, putting themselves to the test in daily life. Yet they need help to piece together the various experiences and to read them from a faith perspective, overcoming the risk of dispersal and recognizing the signs by which God speaks. Over the centuries, theological understanding of the mystery of vocation has seen different emphases, according to the social and ecclesial context in which the theme has been elaborated.

    This leads, from time to time, to emphasis on individual aspects, in ways that have not always done justice to the complexity of the overall picture. In order to grasp profoundly the mystery of a vocation whose ultimate origin lies in God, we are therefore called to purify our imagination and our religious language, and to rediscover the richness and balance of the biblical narrative. In particular, the interplay between divine choice and human freedom needs to be thought through, prescinding from all determinism and from all extrinsecism.

    Vocation is neither a pre-composed script that the human being has simply to recite nor is it an unwritten theatrical improvisation. Since God calls us to be friends and not servants cf. Understood in this light, vocation appears as a real gift of grace and a gift of covenant — the most beautiful and precious secret of our freedom. In asserting that all things were created through Christ and for him cf. Verbum Domini , This is why it is important to establish the conditions to allow all Christian communities, building on the baptismal consciousness of their members, to develop a genuine vocational culture and a constant commitment to pray for vocations.

    Many young people are fascinated by the figure of Jesus. To them his life appears good and beautiful, because it is poor and simple, built on sincere and profound friendships, given for his brethren with generosity, never closed towards anyone, but always open to gift. Still today the life of Jesus is profoundly attractive and inspiring; for all young people it is a provocation which challenges them. Gaudium et Spes , Indeed Jesus not only fascinated people with his life — he also issued an explicit call to faith. Go in peace!

    Others who met him were called to become his disciples and witnesses. He did not conceal from those who wanted to be disciples the need to take up the cross every day and follow him on a paschal journey of death and resurrection. Faith as witness lives on in the Church, the sign and instrument of salvation for all peoples.

    There have always been various forms of discipleship within the community of Jesus. Among all the biblical figures who illustrate the mystery of vocation, we should contemplate in a particular way the figure of Mary. She remains the first disciple of Jesus and the model of all discipleship. In her pilgrimage of faith, Mary followed her Son to the foot of the Cross and after the Resurrection she accompanied the nascent Church to Pentecost.

    As mother and merciful teacher she continues to accompany the Church and to implore the Spirit who gives life to every vocation. Alongside the Virgin, the figure of Joseph her spouse constitutes another exemplary model of vocational response. It is not possible to understand the significance of the baptismal vocation in its fulness unless we remember that for everyone, without exception, it is a call to holiness.

    Ecclesial vocations are multiple and articulated expressions through which the Church realizes her call to be a real sign of the Gospel received in a fraternal community. The different ways of following Christ express, each in its own way, the mission to bear witness to the event of Jesus, in which every man and every woman finds salvation.

    Saint Paul returns many times in his letters to this theme, recalling the image of the Church as a body made up of various members and emphasizing that each member is necessary and at the same time a part of the whole, since only the unity of all makes the body alive and harmonious.

    The Church - Its Nature, Principles and Vocation

    The Second Vatican Council and the subsequent Magisterium offer valuable indications for elaborating a correct theology of charisms and ministries in the Church, in such a way as to receive with recognition and to value with wisdom the gifts of grace that the Spirit continually calls forth in the Church to rejuvenate her. Many young people live their professional lives within a vocational horizon. They often reject attractive work proposals that are not in line with Christian values and they make their choice of career by asking how best to bring their personal talents to bear fruit in the service of the Kingdom of God.

    The gift of consecrated life, both contemplative and apostolic, which the Spirit calls forth in the Church, has a particular prophetic value inasmuch as it is a joyful witness of the gratuitousness of love. When religious communities and new foundations live their fraternity authentically, they become schools of communion, centres of prayer and contemplation, places of witness of intergenerational and intercultural dialogue and arenas for evangelization and charity.

    If in some regions it is experiencing reduction in numbers and the fatigue of ageing, consecrated life continues to be fruitful and creative, not least through co-responsibility with many lay people who share the spirit and the mission of the various charisms. The Church and the world cannot be without this vocational gift, which is a great resource for our time. Hence she has always devoted special attention to the formation and accompaniment of candidates for the priesthood. The concern of many churches for their numerical decline demands a renewed reflection on the vocation to the ordained ministry and on the pastoral care of vocations so as to convey the fascination of the person of Jesus and of his call to become pastors of his flock.

    Likewise the vocation to the permanent diaconate calls for greater attention, because the full potential of this resource has yet to be tapped. The single state can have many causes, voluntary or involuntary, and can depend on cultural, religious and social factors.

    It can therefore express a very broad range of life choices. The Church recognizes that this state, lived in a spirit of faith and gift, can be one of the many roads by which the grace of baptism is realized and a person advances towards the holiness to which are all called. In the modern world, marked by an ever more evident pluralism and by an ever wider range of possible options, the theme of choices arises with particular force at a variety of levels, especially in the face of life journeys that are less and less linear and marked by great precariousness.

    Often the young oscillate between approaches as extreme as they are ingenuous: from considering themselves in thrall to a predetermined and inexorable destiny, to finding themselves overwhelmed by an abstract ideal of excellence, within a framework of unregulated and violent competition.

    Accompaniment for the sake of valid, stable and well-founded choices, is therefore a service that is widely needed. Being present, supporting and accompanying the journey towards authentic choices is one way for the Church to exercise her maternal function, giving birth to the freedom of the children of God. As the account of the Emmaus disciples shows us, accompanying requires availability to walk a stretch of road together, establishing a significant relationship.

    It is therefore the community as a whole that is the prime subject of accompaniment, precisely because in its heart it develops that drama of relationships that can support the person on his journey and furnish him with points of reference and orientation. Accompaniment in human and Christian growth towards adult life is one of the ways in which the community demonstrates that it is capable of renewal and of renewing the world. The Eucharist is the living memorial of the paschal event, a privileged place of evangelization and transmission of the faith for the sake of mission.

    In the assembly gathered for the eucharistic celebration, the experience of being personally touched, instructed and healed by Jesus accompanies each person on his or her journey of personal growth. Priests, men and women religious, while they do not have a monopoly of accompaniment, have a specific task which arises from their vocation and which they must rediscover, as they were asked to do by the young people present in the Synodal Assembly, in the name of so many others.

    The experience of some Churches exalts the role of catechists as accompaniers of the Christian communities and of their members. Accompaniment cannot limit itself to the path of spiritual growth and to the practices of the Christian life. Equally fruitful is accompaniment along the path of gradual assumption of responsibilities within society, for example in the professional sphere or in socio-political engagement.

    There is an inherent complementarity between personal accompaniment and community accompaniment, which every spirituality or ecclesial sensibility is called to articulate in its own way. In particularly delicate moments, such as the phase of discernment over fundamental life choices or the negotiation of critical periods, direct personal accompaniment will prove particularly fruitful.

    Then one must underline the urgency of personally accompanying seminarians and young priests, religious in formation, as well as couples preparing for marriage and in the early stages after the celebration of the sacrament, drawing inspiration from the catechumenate. Jesus accompanied his group of disciples, sharing his daily life with them.

    Community experience highlights the qualities and the limits of every person and helps us to recognize humbly that unless we share the gifts we have received for the common good, it is not possible to follow the Lord. This practice continues in the Church today, as the young join groups, movements and associations of various kinds, where they experience a warm and welcoming environment and the intensity of relationships that they desire. Joining organizations of this kind is particularly important once the journey of Christian initiation has been completed, because it offers the young an opportunity to bring their Christian vocation to maturity.

    Pastors should maintain a presence in these environments, so as to guarantee suitable accompaniment. In these groups, the formators and animators represent a point of reference in terms of accompaniment, while the friendships that develop within them prepare the ground for peer accompaniment. Spiritual accompaniment is intended to help people integrate step by step the various dimensions of their lives so as to follow the Lord Jesus. Those who accompany should be welcoming and patient, they elicit pertinent questions and recognize the signs of the Spirit in the replies of the young.

    The charism of spiritual accompaniment is not necessarily linked to ordained ministry, nor was it in the past. Never has there been so great a need as there is today for spiritual guides, fathers and mothers with profound experience of faith and humanity, over and above their intellectual preparation. In this area, the Synod devoutly hopes for a rediscovery of the immensely fruitful resource of consecrated life, especially its female form, and of well-formed laypersons, young and old.

    The sacrament of reconciliation plays an essential part in helping us move forward in the life of faith, marked as it is not only by limits and frailties, but also by sin. The ministry of reconciliation and spiritual accompaniment must be clearly distinguished from one another, because they take different forms and have different objectives. A healthy and wise graduality of penitential paths is needed pastorally, involving of a range of educative figures, who can help young people to read their moral lives, to develop a correct sense of sin and above all to open themselves to the liberating joy of mercy.

    The Synod recognizes the need to promote an integral accompaniment, in which the spiritual aspects are well integrated with the human and the social. It is a question of absorbing all these elements dynamically, respecting different spiritualities and cultures, without exclusion and without confusion. Psychological or psychotherapeutic accompaniment, as long as it is open to transcendence, can prove fundamental for a journey of integration of the personality, and it can reopen to the possibility of vocational growth certain aspects of the personality that are closed or blocked.

    Psychological assistance could not only help them patiently to relive their personal history, but also to reopen questions so as to help them arrive at a more stable affective equilibrium. When young people are admitted to houses of formation or seminaries, it is important to establish whether they are sufficiently rooted in a community, and whether they show stability in relations of friendship with peers, in commitment to study or work, and in contact with poverty and suffering.

    In spiritual accompaniment, it is crucial to begin with prayer and the interior world, learning discernment above all in their own lives, not least though forms of renunciation and asceticism. Celibacy for the Kingdom cf. Mt should be understood as a gift to be recognized and verified in freedom, joy, gratuitousness and humility, before admission to candidacy or first profession. The contribution of psychology is to be understood as an aid to affective maturation and integration of the personality, to be used in formation according to professional ethics and with respect for the effective freedom of those in formation.

    The figure of the rector or whoever is responsible for formation becomes ever more important for unifying the journey of formation, for arriving at a realistic discernment, consulting all those involved in formation, and for deciding whether or not to interrupt the journey of formation, guiding individuals onto a different vocational path.

    Once the initial phase of formation is concluded, there is a need for ongoing formation and accompaniment of priests and consecrated men and women, especially younger ones, who often have to face challenges and responsibilities that are quite out of proportion. The task of accompanying them falls not only upon those duly delegated, but must be personally exercised by bishops and superiors. In many ways, the young ask us to describe the qualities needed in an accompanier.

    The service of accompaniment is a genuine mission, which requires apostolic availability on the part of those who provide it. Like the deacon Philip, the accompanier is called to obey the call of the Spirit, going outwards and leaving behind the safe area enclosed by the walls of Jerusalem, a figure of the Christian community, so as to set out towards an inhospitable desert place, perhaps a dangerous one, in which he makes the effort to pursue a chariot. Having reached it, he must find a way of entering into a relationship with the foreign traveller, so as to elicit a question that perhaps would never have been formulated spontaneously cf.

    Acts