Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill
Menu

Teaching young people how to navigate love and terror

Editor’s note: This is the first column in a series on Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

This series on “Amoris Laetitia/ The Joy of Love” would have started elsewhere if we had not faced yet another onslaught of ter­rorism and hate crimes. However, as one looks back on this document by Pope Francis, it is clear that he offers food for thought on the vexing topics of hatred and violence.

People who conspire to kill other people in the name of religion all suffer from some form of delusion. Among the many things which Pope Francis sees weakening and sicken­ing society are narcissism, lack of nurturing, and neglect of formation for our young.

Young people need stable families, they need hope, and they need ma­ture adults who are situated in solid communities to inspire them. The Holy Father talks about the pressing need for us to appeal to the young to tap “their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even hero­ism.”

Anyone who has worked with youth and young adults knows how easily they can be destabilized and disillusioned. They are grief stricken when they learn that someone they admired — a sports figure, a celebrity, a person in ministry, a coach or a family member — turns out to be less than a paragon of virtue. There is a teen phase in which the antennae seem fine-tuned for hypocrisy. When a young person finds phoniness, his or her trust in the adult world becomes very shaky.

It is increasingly evident that growing up amid broken relation­ships, abandoned projects, and what Pope Francis terms a “culture of the ephemeral” has caused many young people to latch onto strict disciplines and seeming absolutes, even if these are misguided. Thus, we have some falling prey to cults and others en­listing in mistaken and even fright­ening causes which they think will change the world.

We have not done a very good job of educating our young people in criti­cal thinking when our society has fostered an almost-anything-goes mentality.

We have also not done well in identifying the most vulnerable young people and seeing to it that they have trustworthy guidance and opportunities to dialogue about their thoughts and dreams.

When Pope Francis speaks of the family, he reminds us that a family ought to be a place where couples, children, and extended families ex­perience a “communion of love.” Just as St. John Paul II has called the family a “school of faith,” Pope Fran­cis says that it is the place where we should learn to cooperate, to work, and to be good citizens while experi­encing genuine tenderness. Families ought to shelter us and prepare us for the inevitable human encounter with loneliness and powerlessness, he notes.

We clearly cannot shield young people from the multiple influences which come at them from peers, the marketplace, and social media. But we can attend to the fact that self-giving adults serve as role-models. They teach us reverence for other persons and the priority of the com­mon good. Solid families, Francis says, are where we find a “shepherd­ing in mercy.” They also, we hope and pray, help our young recognize wolves when they see them.






  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Oct 13 Diocesan Evangelization Conference
    From the Calendar of Ethnic Ministries
    Oct 278:00 am Day of Continuing Education for Deacons
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Nov 1 Black Catholic History Month
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Nov 1010:00 am Junta de Equipo Diocesano de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 1210:00 am Junta Diocesana
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 17 Diocese of Charleston Native American Catholic Heritage Celebration
    From the Calendar of Native American Ministry
    Nov 18 Vietnamese Martyrs Celebration
    From the Calendar of Vietnamese Ministry
    Dec 1 Black Catholics Heritage Celebration
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Dec 15 Simbang Gabi for Filipino Catholics
    From the Calendar of Filipino Ministry
    Dec 25 Diocesan Television Christmas Special Fox 21
    From the Calendar of Ethnic Ministries
    Jan 412:00 am Class 2019 Ordination Retreat
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Jan 812:00 am Retiro Espiritual de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Jan 1210:00 am Junta de Equipo Diocesano de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Feb 911:00 am Ordination of Permanent Deacons
    From the Calendar of Diaconate