The English translation of the Final Document of the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment was released this past week. The summary of twenty-five days worth of sessions in Rome last October, it covers a variety of topics focused on the three main subjects of the Synod—the situation of young people in the world today, how they understand and relate to Jesus Christ and the Church, and what the Church must do to engage young people and invite them to live lives of holiness.
Clocking in at fifty-six pages and 167 sections, the final document is written around the story of the Road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke. Two disciples find themselves walking form Jerusalem to Emmaus after the events of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and Jesus meets them on the way and begins talking with them. Over the course of their conversation, he teaches them the story of both salvation history and the meaning of the Resurrection, then shares a meal with them. In the breaking of the bread, they suddenly realize they are in the presence of Jesus, their hearts burning within them. Inspired, moved, challenged, and with the conviction of the Spirit, the two disciples set back off for Jerusalem to proclaim what they have experienced.
This story of encounter, conversation, and conversion anchors the final document of the synod, which explores the ideas that Jesus walks with young people, that the eyes of young people can be opened and hearts set on fire, and that young people will set off without delay to proclaim the Gospel to others.
While the document is meant to be read as a whole, and context is very important for a number of key sections and lines, here are a few important quotes from the final document that help capture the breadth and depth of the Synod on Young People.
From Part 1: He Walked With Them
“Listening is an encounter in freedom, which requires humility, patience, readiness to understand, and a commitment to formulate the answers in a new way. Listening transforms the hearts of those who do it, especially when it takes place with an interior disposition of harmony and docility to the Spirit. So it is not just a gathering of information, nor is it a strategy for achieving a goal, but it is the manner in which God himself relates to his people.” (6)
On the value of young people’s witness
“The young are able to guide other young people and to exercise a genuine apostolate among their friends.” (36)
On youth being the Church of today
“Young Catholics are not merely on the receiving end of pastoral activity. They are living members of the one ecclesial body, baptized persons in whom the Spirit of the Lord is alive and active. They help to enrich what the Church is and not only what she does. They are her present and not only her future.” (54)
On the need for the feminine voice in the life of the Church
“The absence of the feminine voice and perspective impoverishes debate and the Church’s journey, depriving discernment of a precious contribution.” (55)
From Part 2: Their Eyes Were Opened
On the role of the Holy Spirit
“The Holy Spirit inflames the heart, opens the eyes and awakens the faith of the two wayfarers. He is at work from the beginning of the creation of the world so that the Father’s plan to recapitulate all things in Christ may reach fulfillment.” (59)
On seeing oneself in Jesus
“In Jesus, all the young can see themselves, with their fears and their hopes, their uncertainties and their dreams and they can entrust themselves to him.” (63)
On the challenges of Jesus
“When Jesus encountered the young, in whatever state and condition they might find themselves, even if they were dead, in one way or another he said to them: “Arise! Grow!” And his word brought about what he was saying.” (71)
On the importance of the family
“The family is the first faith community where, for all its limitations and incompleteness, the young person experiences God’s love and begins to discern a vocation.” (72)
On the importance of accompaniment
“As the account of the Emmaus disciples shows us, accompanying requires availability to walk a stretch of road together, establishing a significant relationship. The origin of the term “accompany” points to bread broken and shared (cum pane), with all the symbolic human and sacramental richness of this reference. It is therefore the community as a whole that is the prime subject of accompaniment, precisely because in its heart it develops that drama of relationships that can support the person on his journey and furnish him with points of reference and orientation.” (92)
On the roles of mentors in faith
“A good accompanier is a person who is balanced, a listener, a person of faith and prayer, who has the measure of his own weaknesses and frailties. Hence he knows how to be accepting of the young people he accompanies, without moralizing and without false indulgence. When necessary he also knows how to offer a word of fraternal correction.” (102)
From Part 3: They Set Off Without Delay
On the passions of young people
“Passion for seeking truth, amazement at the Lord’s beauty, the capacity to share and the joy of proclamation are still alive today in the hearts of many young people who are living members of the Church.” (116)
On the Relational Face of the Church
“It is in relationships – with Christ, with others, in the community – that faith is handed on. For the sake of mission, too, the Church is called to adopt a relational face that places the emphasis on listening, welcoming, dialogue and common discernment in a process that transforms the lives of those taking part.” (122)
On the need for beautiful liturgies
“The young have shown that they appreciate and wish to engage deeply with authentic celebrations in which the beauty of signs and the care taken over preaching and community involvement truly speak of God. It is therefore necessary to promote their active participation, while keeping alive a sense of awe before the Mystery; to acknowledge their musical and artistic sensitivities, but also to help them understand that the liturgy is not purely self-expression but an action of Christ and the Church. It is equally important to help the young discover the value of eucharistic adoration as a prolongation of the celebration, in which to live contemplation and silent prayer.” (134)
On the privileged moment of one’s youth
“God calls at every age in life – from the mother’s womb to old age – but youth is the privileged moment for listening, for availability and for accepting God’s will.” (140)
On the need to be saints
“We must be saints so that we can invite the young to be saints. The young are crying out for an authentic, radiant, transparent, joyful Church: only a Church of saints can measure up to such requests! Many of the young have left because they have not found holiness in the Church, but rather mediocrity, presumption, division and corruption…There is a language that all men and women of every age, place and culture can understand, because it is immediate and radiant: it is the language of holiness.” (166)
On the value of young people in the Church
“Through the holiness of the young, the Church can renew her spiritual ardor and her apostolic vigor. The balsam of holiness generated by the good lives of so many young people can heal the wounds of the Church and of the world, bringing us back to that fullness of love to which we have always been called: the young saints inspire us to return to our first love.” (167).
To read the complete final document, click here.