A popular song from several years ago states, “We are the world, we are the children.” These words echo the sentiment of Pope Benedict XVI in his second Encyclical, Spe Salvi, or "Saved by Hope." In this encyclical he encourages all of us to focus not just on our own salvation, but in the salvation of the world.
Our youth today need hope. The rates of drug use, teenage suicide and crime among young people is astounding. The antidote to these problems is hope. It has been my experience that hope is born when we focus less on ourselves and more on the world. Reaching out and becoming a vessel of hope, helps us in turn, to become hopeful.
Young people need a sense of purpose and belonging. Showing them opportunities to serve and become role models for others can provide that for them. They can learn to live their faith out in the world and inspire other people. Bringing hope, begets hope.
I have witnessed several times lately. First, my 17 year-old niece, Chelsea, initiated a coat drive to help the Burmese refugees that had relocated to our area. She then took the things she had collected down to the refugees and distributed them. She expressed how humbled she felt when she witnessed how little they had and how grateful they were for the little they received.
The second incident involved my own 16 year-old daughter and her boyfriend. They woke up on Good Friday this year and went out in freezing weather to stand in a prayer line outside an abortion clinic. While many of their peers enjoyed the warmth of their beds (on that day off from school), Katya and Brian shivered in the cold so that unborn babies may have a chance to rest safely in the warmth of their mothers’ wombs.
Still again, I was privileged to witness hope, when my friend’s 17 year-old son, Rob, came home the other day and announced to his 9 year-old brother that he was taking him to a local hill to go sledding!
Examples of young people bringing their faith into action out into the world can move the rest of us to act accordingly. Their faith is strong. Their actions speak volumes.
Young people can initiate hope. They can feel hope. They can change the world and if we believe in them, we can help them.
Hope builders for Young Catholics:
Mentor a younger child.
Assist in a faith formation class.
Attend a youth conference.
Do yard work for an older person.
Read to the blind.
Form a prayer group at school.