Pope Francis said that he hopes preparations for World Youth Day in Panama and the Synod of Bishops in October 2018, ‘will move forward in tandem,’ since the topic of the Synod will be youth, faith and vocational discernment.
‘Like the young woman of Nazareth, you can improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history, your history and that of many others,’ Pope Francis said. ‘With your plans and with your courage, with your dreams and ideals, walls of stagnation fall and roads open up that lead us to a better, fairer, less cruel and more humane world’.
At the Synod, ‘we will talk about how you, as young people, are experiencing the life of faith amid the challenges of our time,’ Francis said. ‘We will also discuss the question of how you can develop a life project by discerning your personal vocation …’
In discerning the plan God has for our lives, we can look to Mary, who was very young herself, as an example of the gift of faith lived out, he said.
‘The genuine experience of the Church is not like a flash mob, where people agree to meet, do their thing and then go their separate ways’, Francis said.
‘The Church is heir to a long tradition which, passed down from generation to generation, is further enriched by the experience of each individual. Your personal history has a place within the greater history of the Church’.
Even young people should be mindful of tradition and the past, he said, though this is not the same as being nostalgic or remaining stuck on a certain period of history as being the best. One of the gifts of youth is questioning and dreaming about the future, Francis said.
‘God came to enlarge the horizons of our life in every direction. God helps us to give due value to the past so as to better build a future of happiness … When God touches the heart of a young man or woman, they become capable of doing tremendous things’.