“Wake up to life” – this was the slogan of this year’s meeting of young Catholic Christians “Paradiso”, at Święta Gora (Holy Mount) in the Monastery of the Oratorians of St Philip Neri in Gostyń, Poland. During Paradiso, hope has grown within my heart that the Church has a future, and this future lies in young people, willing to follow Jesus together, willing to confess and pass their faith on to others, to witness by example among themselves and one another. This is the dream of the “young Church” born not only in my heart, but in every person sent to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. This year’s Paradiso was my first ever and surely not the last one. I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people who, like myself, wish the common good of the Church, but most of all, I had the opportunity to get closer to God and listen to what he has to say to me through others. We are all tools in God’s hands, and it is through us that God works and gets to others. From these days of communal integration, prayer, and observation of other young Christians, I would like to share a few thoughts which I took back home from this experience.
The Need for Community
Every one of us needs some form of relationship, a safe environment in which to make their voices heard. The first thing I noticed when I got there was the sense of openness to others without any awkwardness, but with a smile on the face, which we often miss. Such was the need for community that I saw during Paradiso, the need to be together, the need to speak, the need for God, especially at a time when being a Christian, being part of the Church, is a matter of principle. We are all different, yet we share a common bond with Christ.
The Need to Speak
For the first time I noticed that there are a lot of people like me who want to speak, not only about what is good, but also about what embarrasses today’s Church. A strong need for dialogue could be felt amongst them. This gives a lot of food for thought. How should young people behave when those closest to them walk away because of their witness to Christ? How difficult is it nowadays for young Christians to profess their faith when simple little gestures are judged by the firm eyes of a society whose lifestyle leaves no room for God? How will young people who want to profess their faith openly as a community behave in the face of all this?
The Need for God
These few days have taught me how many people feel the same need for God, the same willingness to share him with others in varied ways. I am absolutely sure that outdated teaching does not work for young people. They need something fresh, something that will make it possible for them to get to know and love Jesus. Together, we should consider how to communicate our faith to others, and how to do it best. It is our mission, our goal that we ought to fulfil. God is in search of all of us, it’s only that at times we do not allow him to be found.
A Synodal Spirit
During Paradiso the synodal idea of a common way crossed my mind. Seeing groups of young people, I have noticed that it is through them that God speaks how he wishes His Church to look today, to be full of love and understanding, to preach and to go out to help everyone who needs Him. I could see all of this in the people who participated in this beautiful event.
Paradiso is the place where the “young Church” is reborn, where there is renewed hope that things can be better.
(candidate at the SDC Centre in Poznań, Poland)