Canadian bishops urge millennials to strive for holiness

The bishops of Canada express their spiritual support for young people in a pastoral letter and urge Catholic millennials to live their faith in the pursuit of holiness.

By Devin Watkins

“The love of God and the example of Christ enable you to challenge and change the world! What a difference you make to those who love you and how precious you are to our community of faith. You are the young Church of today and the Church of tomorrow.

The Bishops of Canada offered this expression of support to young Canadian Catholics in a new pastoral lettersigned by Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

The letter was published on Wednesday, October 12, to coincide with the liturgical feast and death anniversary of Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian of English descent who died of leukemia in 2006 and is now the first millennial to be beatified by the Church.

The document is the result of CCCB conversations with over 200 young Canadians aged 12 to 25 in the fall of 2020, and is intended for personal or group reflection and as a resource for local pastoral leaders.

Prophetic voices in society

In the pastoral letter, the bishops of Canada explore various aspects of contemporary life and culture and their impact on the life of faith of young people.

They begin by affirming God’s unconditional love for young people, which manifests itself in Christ’s offer of salvation and in the guidance of our lives by the Holy Spirit.

Reflecting on Jesus’ conversation with Temple teachers when he was 12 years old, the bishops noted that today’s youth – like the teenage Jesus – can be prophetic voices, while learning to listen and ask good questions.

“Be courageous and compassionate with your families, friends and religious communities. Be respectful and honest with others about your faith and what the Church means to you.

Opportunities and pitfalls of digital platforms

The Bishops then noted the interplay between technology and faith, which they said the Covid-19 pandemic has taught the Church as Masses were broadcast live and prayer and meetings of group were moving online.

Yet, while digital platforms offer spiritual opportunities, they also present temptations and challenges when used indiscriminately.

“While technological knowledge and skills are ways to connect with others in meaningful ways, Pope Francis reminds us that virtual spaces cannot replace human connections.”

The Bishops of Canada have therefore urged millennials to find a balance between online and in-person interactions with their friends and peers.

Stressed but striving

In their conversations with Church leaders in Canada in 2020, young people shared their experiences of “stress, anxiety, and depression,” as well as peer pressure, family tensions, and school concerns. The climate crisis also weighs more heavily on young people as a group than on older generations.

The Church is eager to help young Canadians cope with their stress and has urged them to contact their local priest, youth minister, guidance counselor or family for guidance.

“Together we want to help you find balance in your life by taking care of your mind, body, heart and soul,” the Bishops said. “We want to help you thrive.”

The bishops promised to improve pastoral planning and spiritual formation to include the period of life following the sacrament of confirmation and preparation for marriage. The young people had lamented the feeling that the Church was forgetting them during this crucial stage of their development.

Help build a more just and compassionate church

The last section of the bishops’ pastoral letter contained the Christian testimony of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, and Blessed Carlo Acutis

In conclusion, the Bishops of Canada reaffirmed that young people are important for the Church, as well as for their families and the whole world.

“Your faith, hope, and love are needed to create a more just and compassionate Church and world. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and help you understand how to use your unique gifts and talents for good.

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