Highlights from the First Half of Christus Vivit

Here are some highlights from the first half of Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation:

  • The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive! (1)
  • He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you.  However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One.  He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again.  When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope. (2)
  • Jesus, himself eternally young, wants to give us hearts that are ever young. God’s word asks us to “cast out the old leaven that you may be fresh dough” (1 Cor 5:7).  Saint Paul invites us to strip ourselves of the “old self” and to put on a “young” self (Col 3:9.10).[1] In explaining what it means to put on that youthfulness “which is being renewed” (v. 10), he mentions “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another” (Col 3:12-13).  In a word, true youth means having a heart capable of loving, whereas everything that separates us from others makes the soul grow old.  And so he concludes: “above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14). (13)
  • Young people are not meant to become discouraged; they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better.  (15)
  • A wise young person is open to the future, yet still capable of learning something from the experience of others. (16)
  • We can, in fact, spend our youth being distracted, skimming the surface of life, half-asleep, incapable of cultivating meaningful relationships or experiencing the deeper things in life.   In this way, we can store up a paltry and unsubstantial future.  Or we can spend our youth aspiring to beautiful and great things, and thus store up a future full of life and interior richness. (19)
  • If you have lost your inner vitality, your dreams, your enthusiasm, your optimism and your generosity, Jesus stands before you as once he stood before the dead son of the widow, and with all the power of his resurrection he urges you: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Lk 7:14). (20)
  • Let us ask the Lord to free the Church from those who would make her grow old, encase her in the past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill.  But let us also ask him to free her from another temptation: that of thinking she is young because she accepts everything the world offers her, thinking that she is renewed because she sets her message aside and acts like everybody else.  No!  The Church is young when she is herself, when she receives ever anew the strength born of God’s word, the Eucharist, and the daily presence of Christ and the power of his Spirit in our lives.  The Church is young when she shows herself capable of constantly returning to her source. (35)
  • we must dare to be different, to point to ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation, prayer, the pursuit of justice and the common good, love for the poor, and social friendship. (36)
  • Young people can help keep (the Church) young.  They can stop her from becoming corrupt; they can keep her moving forward, prevent her from being proud and sectarian, help her to be poorer and to bear better witness, to take the side of the poor and the outcast, to fight for justice and humbly to let herself be challenged. (37)
  • The Synod recognized that “a substantial number of young people, for all sorts of reasons, do not ask the Church for anything because they do not see her as significant for their lives.  Some even ask expressly to be left alone, as they find the presence of the Church a nuisance, even an irritant.  This request does not always stem from uncritical or impulsive contempt.  It can also have serious and understandable reasons: sexual and financial scandals; a clergy ill-prepared to engage effectively with the sensitivities of the young; lack of care in homily preparation and the presentation of the word of God; the passive role assigned to the young within the Christian community; the Church’s difficulty in explaining her doctrine and ethical positions to contemporary society”. (40)
  • A Church always on the defensive, which loses her humility and stops listening to others, which leaves no room for questions, loses her youth and turns into a museum. (41)
  • a living Church can react by being attentive to the legitimate claims of those women who seek greater justice and equality.  A living Church can look back on history and acknowledge a fair share of male authoritarianism, domination, various forms of enslavement, abuse and sexist violence.  With this outlook, she can support the call to respect women’s rights, and offer convinced support for greater reciprocity between males and females, while not agreeing with everything some feminist groups propose.  Along these lines, the Synod sought to renew the Church’s commitment “against all discrimination and violence on sexual grounds”.[17] (42)
  • After this brief look at the word of God, we cannot just say that young people are the future of our world.  They are its present; even now, they are helping to enrich it. (64)
  • Anyone called to be a parent, pastor or guide to young people must have the farsightedness to appreciate the little flame that continues to burn, the fragile reed that is shaken but not broken (cf. Is 42:3).  The ability to discern pathways where others only see walls, to recognize potential where others see only peril.  That is how God the Father see things; he knows how to cherish and nurture the seeds of goodness sown in the hearts of the young. (67)
  • In some young people, we can see a desire for God, albeit still vague and far from knowledge of the God of revelation.  In others, we can glimpse an ideal of human fraternity, which is no small thing.  Many have a genuine desire to develop their talents in order to offer something to our world.  In some, we see a special artistic sensitivity, or a yearning for harmony with nature.  In others, perhaps, a great need to communicate.  In many of them, we encounter a deep desire to live life differently.  In all of this, we can find real starting points, inner resources open to a word of incentive, wisdom and encouragement. (84)
  • For many people, immersion in the virtual world has brought about a kind of “digital migration”, involving withdrawal from their families and their cultural and religious values, and entrance into a world of loneliness and of self-invention, with the result that they feel rootless even while remaining physically in one place.(90)
  • Don’t let them rob you of hope and joy, or drug you into becoming a slave to their interests.  Dare to be more, because who you are is more important than any possession.  What good are possessions or appearances?  You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater.  Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness.  In this way, you will not be a photocopy.  You will be fully yourself. (107)
  • you need to realize one basic truth: being young is not only about pursuing fleeting pleasures and superficial achievements.  If the years of your youth are to serve their purpose in life, they must be a time of generous commitment, whole-hearted dedication, and sacrifices that are difficult but ultimately fruitful. (108)
  • If you are young in years, but feel weak, weary or disillusioned, ask Jesus to renew you.  With him, hope never fails. You can do the same if you feel overwhelmed by vices, bad habits, selfishness or unhealthy pastimes.  Jesus, brimming with life, wants to help you make your youth worthwhile.  In this way, you will not deprive the world of the contribution that you alone can make, in all your uniqueness and originality. (109)
  • God loves you.  Never doubt this, whatever may happen to you in life.  At every moment, you are infinitely loved. (112)
  • For him, you have worth; you are not insignificant.  You are important to him, for you are the work of his hands.  That is why he is concerned about you and looks to you with affection….He does not keep track of your failings and he always helps you learn something even from your mistakes.  Because he loves you.  Try to keep still for a moment and let yourself feel his love.  Try to silence all the noise within, and rest for a second in his loving embrace. (115)
  • The one who fills us with his grace, the one who liberates us, transforms us, heals and consoles us is someone fully alive.  He is the Christ, risen from the dead, filled with supernatural life and energy, and robed in boundless light.  That is why Saint Paul could say: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Cor 15:7).(124)
  • Alive, he can be present in your life at every moment, to fill it with light and to take away all sorrow and solitude.  Even if all others depart, he will remain, as he promised: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).  He fills your life with his unseen presence; wherever you go, he will be waiting there for you. (125)
  • He takes nothing away from you, but instead helps you to find all that you need, and in the best possible way.  Do you need love?  You will not find it in dissipation, using other people, or trying to be possessive or domineering.  You will find it in a way that will make you genuinely happy.  Are you seeking powerful emotions?  You will not experience them by accumulating material objects, spending money, chasing desperately after the things of this world.  They will come, and in a much more beautiful and meaningful way, if you let yourself be prompted by the Holy Spirit. (131)

Pope Francis Expresses Concerns about Integralist Reactionaries, Fear-Preaching Populists, and Building Walls

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Pope Francis in his latest in-flight press conference:

  • “In every religion there is always an integralist group that does not want to move ahead and lives from bitter memories, past conflicts, and seeks even more war and sows fear. We have seen that it is more beautiful to sow hope…”
  • “The builders of walls with blades that cut, with knives or with bricks, will become prisoners of the walls they make.”
  • “I see that there are many people of good will, not only Catholics, but good people who are taken by the fear that is preached, usually by the populists.” Francis recalled that “fear is the beginning of dictators,” as was seen in the last century with the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler, “and we know the results.”

Pope Names Wilton Gregory Next Archbishop of Washington

Christopher White writes:

As the U.S. Catholic Church faces what is arguably the greatest challenge in its history, Pope Francis has tapped the man who guided the U.S. bishops through the 2002 sexual abuse crisis to lead the archdiocese of the nation’s capital, after its long-serving cardinal resigned under fire last year for his handling of abuse cases earlier in his career.

At the same time, the pope has also named the first African-American prelate to lead an archdiocese seen as one of the centers of African-American culture in the United States, with a timed announcement that coincides with the 51st anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After months of speculation, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, 71 and past president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has been named as the new archbishop of Washington….

John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, and a parishioner in the Washington archdiocese, told Crux that he believes Gregory will be a bridge-builder who seeks to “listens before he speaks.”

“Archbishop Gregory is a great choice because he’s someone who builds bridges and brings a sense of humility to the job,” said Gehring. “He has the daunting task of trying to unite people in a divided church while also speaking truth to power at a time when the president of the United States has used his bully pulpit to sow fear of immigrants and stoke racial animosity. That’s both his challenge and his opportunity.”

Catholic Social Teaching is the Perfect Antidote to White Nationalism and the Alt-Right

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Brian Fraga writes:

But sadly, the kind of extremism that motivates someone to desecrate a Jewish cemetery, to march with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, or to shoot dozens of unarmed worshipers in a New Zealand mosque is on the rise in the United States and around the world….

Whether it’s called white nationalism or the alt-right, Cohen told Our Sunday Visitor that an ideology that manifests itself in hatred for ethnic and religious minorities, particularly against Jews and Muslims, is incompatible with the Church’s teachings on the dignity of the human person and the common spiritual patrimony shared by the world’s three great monotheistic religions….

Robert Christian, a graduate fellow at The Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, told OSV that Catholic social teaching is “the perfect antidote to the toxic ideologies” infecting the modern world.

“Against racism and xenophobia, the Church teaches universal brotherhood and sisterhood, that each person is made in the image of God, and that racism is an intrinsic evil that violates human dignity,” said Christian, who is editor of Millennial, an online Catholic journal.

“Against anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic bigotry, Church teaching endorses religious freedom and a culture of encounter. Against chauvinistic nationalism, the Church promotes the global common good. Against radical individualism, the Church calls for solidarity and genuine community. Against the call for strongman dictatorships, the Church teaches that each person has a right to participate in their government,” he said.

While the U.S. Catholic bishops and others, including Pope Francis, have denounced bigotry and white nationalism, Christian said the overall Catholic response to the rise of the alt-right, the resurgence of neo-fascism in Europe and the creation of “an alt-Catholic alternative magisterium that attempts to sanctify bigotry, sexism, nationalism and dictatorship,” has been “wholly inadequate.”

“Pope Francis has the strongest record of nearly any Catholic leader, denouncing these ideologies and holding up great Christian Democratic leaders from the middle of the 20th century as positive alternatives,” Christian said. “Nevertheless, addressing neo-fascism, white nationalism, and alt-Catholicism would be the perfect subject for his next social encyclical.”

How Jean Vanier Learned What Love is All About

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche movement, a global community that accompanies and supports those with intellectual disabilities, shares his revelations of love in his latest video message for the Boston College community and beyond. He talks about the road to peace and unity and how he learned what love is all about. He explains why the tyranny of normality has to change to discover the beauty of every person and that what is deepest in each human being is the capacity to love.