Belong, Believe, Become.

The key themes In Pope’s latest exhortation to young people, Christus Vivi are Belonging, Believing and Becoming. In this blog, I am exploring these three key themes and how we can inspire our young people to develop them while at school and in their life after-school.

Pope Francis reminds us in the following passage of the way we need to value and affirm our young people, harness their energy, give them hope and inspire them to dare, dream, discover and make a difference to their world.

  1. Sometime ago, a friend asked me what I see in a young person. My response was that “I see someone who is searching for his or her own path, who wants to fly on their two feet, who faces the world and looks at the horizon with eyes full of the future, full of hope as well as illusions. A young person stands on two feet as adults do, but unlike adults, whose feet are parallel, he always has one foot forward, ready to set out, to spring ahead. Always racing onward. To talk about young people is to talk about promise and to talk about joy. Young people have so much strength; they are able to look ahead with hope. A young person is a promise of life that implies a certain degree of tenacity. He is foolish enough to delude himself, and resilient enough to recover from that delusion”.[75]

Meaningful encounters with Jesus

In the next passage, Pope Francis calls us to make our schools places where young people can belong and feel welcome; where, in the midst of life, they might also find the opportunity for prayer and reflection, and experience meaningful encounters with Jesus. At SFX students have the opportunity to encounter Jesus in our daily morning prayer, meditation in other classes, Retreats and Reflections Days, Masses, Rosary and prayer on Wednesdays in the chapel and in their RE classes. We have the opportunity to be Christ present to others in our everyday encounters in classes, corridors, in meeting places, in drama and music spaces and on the sporting field.

  1. Along these lines, our institutions should provide young people with places they can make their own, where they can come and go freely, feel welcome and readily meet other young people, whether at times of difficulty and frustration, or of joy and celebration. Some of this is already happening in oratories and other youth centres, which in many cases offer a friendly and relaxed setting where friendships can grow, where young men and women can meet one another, where they can share music, games, sports, but also reflection and prayer. In such places, much can be offered, without great expenditure of funds. Then too, the person-to-person contact indispensable for passing on the message can happen, something whose place cannot be taken by any pastoral resource or strategy.

Become the beating heart of God

In this final passage we are encouraged to be inclusive and not legalistic, as many of the Pharisees were. We must encourage our young people to become on earth the beating heart of God, to recognise their identity in Christ and to become the person God intended them to be. This will not always happen in their school years but after they have had graduated and had some time to reflect on how they find meaning and purpose in life. As Oscar Romero said, “Sometimes you have to take the long view.” Education is a life long process. School is only one part of that experience.

  1. Room should also be made for “all those who have other visions of life, who belong to other religions or who distance themselves from religion altogether. All the young, without exception, are in God’s heart and thus in the Church’s heart. We recognize frankly that this statement on our lips does not always find real expression in our pastoral actions: often we remain closed in our environments, where their voice does not penetrate, or else we dedicate ourselves to less demanding and more enjoyable activities, suppressing that healthy pastoral restlessness that would urge us to move out from our supposed security. The Gospel also asks us to be daring, and we want to be so, without presumption and without proselytizing, testifying to the love of the Lord and stretching out our hands to all the young people in the world”.[128]

In a recent Sunday Gospel reading, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. He replies

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. a Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

The Great commandment calls us to belong to our community, to know that we belong; to believe in God’s commandments for community flourishing through loving our neighbour and to become the person God created us to be in using our gifts and talents to serve that community. Year 9, 10, 11 and 12 students are all exploring the Great Commandment through exploring the person of Jesus the Ten Commandments and Beatitudes, Social Justice, Laudato Si in Year 11 and through Religion, Worship and the Arts, Psychology, Religion and Relationships and Religion and the Media.

I pray that SFX will always be a place of belonging for all students, where all will realise that the only teaching that matters is that they are loved by a loving God who calls them to love one another and be Christ’s present to each other; where all students can be nurtured and where all students can become the person God intended them to be, using their gifts and talents in the service of humanity.

FURTHER READING  Christus Vivit  Commentary  – study resources



Anne Armstrong

Religious Curriculum Coordinator 

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