Words of Fr. Eduardo Gonzalo Redondo, spiritual father of the seminary St Basil the Great, of Santiago de Cuba

Papa Francisco junto a los jóvenes
Logo del Sínodo de los Jóvenes 2018
Youth Synod Logo 2018

The No. 4 of the Instrumentum laboris quotes Pope Francis when the Evangelii Gaudium states that “reality is more important than the idea”.
In the concrete life of the day-to-day life of the Church, taking as a background the Pope’s quote, feeling in these days the presence of the Spirit in the dynamism, the spontaneity and freedom with which young people express themselves and the excellent reception by the Synod Fathers, I have no doubt that young people are not the problem but the solution.
The question that arises to me is: so what is the problem? And the answer comes spontaneously to me: much of the problem is me, it’s us. I am referring to the adult world and many of us who are the Church. We can ask for forgiveness a thousand times, but if we do not amend forgiveness with concrete gestures and attitudes, nothing changes. Everything will stay the same.
How to amend? I share some clues.
1. Lose fear and regain confidence that the Spirit of the Lord is the one who drives the boat and that we are limited rowers, poor mediations, but He counts on us: Let us move out to sea!
2. Go from thinking and praying for them, which is important, to sharing life with them, wherever the Lord places us, which is essential. Accompany them for real, dedicate the time they need and not the one we have left over.
3. It is clear that we were not always the best example or we are, but we recognize it and want to live personal, pastoral conversion and set aside all the expired structures that wear us down so much and make us often think more about the accidental than the essential.
4. If we are in love with Jesus and want to give our lives out of love, we will be scarred and we will not measure efforts. We have the concrete example of St Romero of America and of so many martyrs and saints who gave and continue to give their lives, most quietly, out of love for Jesus, accompanying his people well.
It seems that as a Church we find it difficult to be, listen and share with young people, they question everything, call us to live coherently and also denounce our lack of closeness, pastoral affection and concrete support in so many initiatives that they have. Thank God there is also no shortage of testimonies of dedicated and committed shepherds.
5. In some particular Churches, paradoxically, it is the younger priests who identify least with them and vice versa.
6. This reality should make us think about the selection and accompaniment of future pastors in our diocesan seminaries and training houses.
Today, several of those who enter the seminary are well-trained young people, many of them professionals and not infreertion become domesticated teenagers living in spiritualist bubbles. The problem comes from within.
Instead of following and loving Jesus, some follow an “idea of Jesus”, identifying with an “ecclesial line”. What’s that, for God’s sake? The only line, the only way is to follow Jesus Christ! If this is the case, it will be difficult to accompany the young people.
We will always be strangers who live in another world and on a different frequency, different from theirs.
7. We are not patrons, princes or managers. We’re sheep-scented shepherds. Companions who need to be vulnerable in front of the Master and have a good spiritual companion.
8. If the “processes” and “vocational itineraries” do not prevail in our Church, from spirituality, formation and mission above the middle shows and mass events, we will be left only celebrating accidents and lose the axis of Jesus and the course that marks the path we must follow.
Today Pope Francis is marking the horizon for us, opening paths for us, but we run the risk of choosing shortcuts. If we choose shortcuts, we turn away from Jesus and everything goes wrong.
Making your way means patience, our patience, and God’s patience; it means going step by step, knowing that there will be no lack of difficulties, because they are part of the process, but the path is real and concrete. He only makes his way thinking about processes and itineraries in personal accompaniment and pastoral discernment.
9. Thinking about processes, dreaming of making way and avoiding the temptation of shortcuts, would take us away from self-referentiality, from looking at “ourselves” and pushing us into the mission. As John Paul I rightly said, “From the poor we will reach everyone.” This is pastoral conversion, from the poor and young we will reach everyone, no one will be left out. They uncomfortable us and mark our way. “Young people today remain a pastoral opportunity”, unique for the Church to be “an open-door Church”, welcoming, on continuous exit, which is creatively present on the different existential peripheries.
10. If the preferential option for the poor and young people were the cross-cutting axis of the whole Church, there would be little difficulty in taking concrete steps of conversion and setting aside so many deciduous structures that end up mortgaged the faith and the wonderfulness of Jesus’ follow-up.
And I conclude, Holy Father, dear older brothers and young people present, I end up sharing a dream that may be possible, even though we play everything. I lanzo it as a proposal in this synodal classroom: May you, Holy Father, like Peter, invite us “to all the Churches of the world to assume and renew the preferential option for the poor and the young”.
In 2019 marks the forty years of the presence of St. John Paul II in the “Continent of Hope”, his first pastoral trip went to Puebla in Mexico, where the Bishops of the Continent celebrated the Conference of the Latin American Episcopate. The Spirit gave us the preferential option for the poor and young for Latin America, so why not think about it now, unserting the context of this Synod and taking as its framework the next World Youth Day in Panama next January? It can be the most concrete sign and the step that we lack so that the good smell of Jesus can permearse all humanity, assuming as a Church an experience of conversion.
He would give us the sobriety that is born of the Spirit that camps among us and that blows where he wants because he is free and liberating and removes all the fears that often paralyze us.
Finally, I suspect that we would be closer to taking on God’s dream in concreteness: “May all be one for the world to believe.” Ω

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