I am preparing for next month’s world Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

The issue of young people and their vocation in life is crucial.

Most of our young people are baptized as infants. But as our society becomes more deeply commercialized and secularized and traditional institutions of education and formation — especially the family — are broken down, we cannot take for granted that young people will find the path that God wants for their lives.

The Church’s mission is evangelization. We are here to proclaim Jesus Christ — who he is, what he has gained for us by his life, death and resurrection, and what he promises to those who love him and follow his way for their lives.

We need to find new ways to proclaim Christ to our young people. That is what the Synod is all about.

The world today offers young people a vision of life and an array of possible “lifestyles” that are rooted in the search for material comfort, entertainments and passing pleasures.

Jesus came to show us that we are made for so much more — that we are born for greater things, as I wrote in my pastoral letter last year.

God has a beautiful plan of love for our lives and our world. We are made for holiness, to be saints. We are made for a love that is true; for beauty, friendship and joy that begins in this life and extends into eternity.

This is the good news that the Church needs to proclaim to our young people.

There is much to talk about in the weeks ahead and as we enter the Synod. The working document for the Synod raises many of the issues our young people face. And, of course, there is particular concern for issues surrounding human sexuality.

But everything must be brought back to Jesus. Jesus is the way and there is no other.

This is a challenge for the Church. We cannot allow a secular and commercial society to define who we are, or to reduce what it means to be a Christian to a series of moralistic messages or rules for behavior.

What we believe and what we teach about sexuality and relationships only makes sense when we are alive in Jesus Christ and walking in the full light of what Jesus has revealed about the meaning and destiny of human life.

The challenge for the Synod, especially during this moment in the Church, is to continue to propose the higher path that Jesus calls us to.

I have said it before: the crisis of every age is a crisis of saints.

Jesus calls all of us to be saints — not just some of us. All of us are called to be holy, as God is holy.

Sixty years after the Second Vatican Council, we are still trying to understand the Council’s teaching about the “universal call to holiness.” What does it mean? How do we live our vocation to holiness in our everyday lives?

This is the task for young people — and it is the task for all of us.

There are no shortcuts to holiness. Everything comes back to Jesus. In Jesus we see who we are meant to be and how we are meant to live. To be saints, we need to know Jesus.

Father Romano Guardini, the great theologian and spiritual writer, said that one of the things that keeps us from truly knowing Jesus is “what we think we know about him.”

And I think we all can understand what he means. We get used to hearing his same words over and over in the liturgy, we hear the same stories about his life, year in and year out. We can make the mistake of thinking that we know all there is to know because we have heard it all before.

This is a real problem in trying to evangelize in the age of Wikipedia and the internet. Young people, especially, have grown up thinking that everything we need to know — including the truths of faith — can be “looked up” on a device that we can hold in our hands.

A key challenge for the Synod is to seek new ways to “reintroduce” young people to Jesus and to bring them into a living relationship with him.

Pray for me this week and I am praying for you. And let us keep praying for renewal and reform in the Church.

And may our Blessed Mother Mary help us and guide us, as we seek to bring our young people to a new encounter with Jesus Christ. 


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