ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Bishops to young people: "Christ lives: He gives us courage, strength and hope in difficult times"

Friday, 11 December 2020 evangelization   youth   pandemic  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - Young people are called upon to keep faith and hope alive, especially in times of pandemics, said the Philippine bishops with regard to the National Youth Day 2020 on December 16. In a pastoral letter published by the Episcopal Youth Commission, entitled "Mission for and with young people: a letter to young people", the Bishops write: "The Covid-19 pandemic caught us all off guard. We have seen unprecedented changes in all areas of our lives. We had to face the reality of closed churches with online worship services.
Many of you young people have had to stay at home with our elders. Your voices, smiles and noise are not present in our churches, parishes and on campus".
Bishop Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, president of the Episcopal Youth Commission, notes that the wishes and activities planned for the Year of Youth, proclaimed for 2020, have been blocked due to the health emergency. "For some young people the crisis meant the end of their dreams. But God loves us. Jesus saves us. He is alive", he remarked, quoting Pope Francis' Christus vivit.
"We continue to adapt - the letter continues – and try to understand many things. Unexpected changes, restrictions and uncertainty may have led to boredom and sadness. Others suffering from the economic impact may find themselves feeling sorry for themselves and feeling worthless.
As poverty worsens, some succumb to despair and discouragement, and even temptation to end their lives. This new normal can also affect our emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being. The difficulties, anxieties and fears brought by the pandemic can paralyze us. They can take away our ideals, enthusiasm and joy".
But there are also positive sides: "The curfew, which restricts our daily routine, enables us to find more time for ourselves. We urge everyone, our dear young people, to find time for silence and prayer. Find time to listen to and reflect on the Word of God".
"In silence and prayer" , said the Bishop, "one finds inner direction and peace. By cultivating inner silence, one hears the voice of God in one's conscience, which is your moral and spiritual compass and helps navigate through many dilemmas, confusions and difficult decisions".
"We must not fall into the vicious circle of guilt, hatred and despair. With Jesus you can recover from failures and defeats; Jesus saves you and says: Get up!".
Therefore, young people should "be witnesses of a new life in Christ" and feel that they are an active part of the new evangelization. "Dear young people, face this new normal with the openness and willingness of a servant. We are Servants of the Lord. Discover new paths, ways, ways of serving others. Social media, the digital space and even the current crisis are opportunities: here we find new ways and means to bring the Good News to others. This is a Call for the new evangelization", say the Bishops who affar that they are "alongside young people in this mission" and exhort them to "be creative, to get involved and to be strengthened by the grace of the Lord" .
The Bishops invite young people to participate in the formation program for the National Youth Day 2020. The program includes stages that will run throughout the year 2021 as part of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.
"Our Christian faith is such a great treasure that even when money, food and material resources are scarce, even in the face of a pandemic or natural disaster, it is the faith that gives us courage, strength and hope in difficult times and times of great suffering. Faith is the conviction that Christ lives", the letter concludes. "Jesus Christ gives new life, new strength and courage". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/12/2020)