Saturday, December 30, 2017

Prayers for the Family

Unless we bring back prayer and love into the family we will never have peace. -- St. Mother Teresa

Liturgical Prayer on the Feast of the Holy Family
O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Prayer to the Holy Family by Pope Francis
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love;
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience
violence, rejection and division;
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Graciously hear our prayer.

Prayer for the Family of St. Pope John Paul II
Lord God, from you every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  Father, you are love and life.  Through your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman, and through the Holy Spirit, fountain of divine charity, grant that every family on earth may become for each successive generation a true shrine of life and love.  Grant that your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives for the good of their families and of all the families in the world.  Grant that the young may find in the family solid support for their human dignity and for their growth in truth and love.  Grant that love, strengthened by the Sacrament of marriage, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass.  Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission in and through the family.  Through Christ our Lord, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life for ever and ever.  Amen.  

Open the heart of every family to the faith by St. Pope John Paul II
O Holy Family of Nazareth, community of love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, model and ideal of every Christian family, to you we entrust our families.
Open the heart of every family to the faith, to welcoming the word of God, to Christian witness, so that it becomes a source of new and holy vocations.
Touch the hearts of parents, so that with prompt charity, wise care, and loving devotion they are sure guides for their sons and daughters towards spiritual and eternal values.
Stir up in the hearts of young people a right conscience and a free will, so that growing in "wisdom, age and grace", they might welcome generously the gift of a divine vocation.
Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that all of us, contemplating and imitating the assiduous prayer, generous obedience, dignified poverty and virginal purity lived out in your midst, might set about fulfilling the will of God and accompanying with far-sighted sensitivity those among us who are called to follow more closely the Lord Jesus, who "has given himself for us" (cf. Gal 2:20). Amen!

Prayer for the Family of St. Mother Teresa
Heavenly Father,
you have given us the model of life
in the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to make our family another Nazareth
where love, peace and joy reign.
May it be deeply contemplative,
intensely eucharistic,
revived with joy.
Help us to stay together in joy
and sorrow in family prayer.
Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our families,
especially in their distressing disguise.
May the Eucharistic heart of Jesus
make our hearts humble like his
and help us to carry out our family duties
in a holy way.
May we love one another
as God loves each one of us,
more and more each day,
and forgive each others faults
as you forgive our sins.
Help us, O Loving Father,
to take whatever you give
and give whatever you take with a big smile.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
cause of our joy, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels,
be always with us,
guide and protect us.

Consecration of the Family
O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, Who having come to enlighten the world, with Your teaching and example, willed to pass the greater part of Your life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to You this day. Defend us, guard us and establish among us Your holy fear, true peace and concord in Christian love: in order that by conforming ourselves to the divine pattern of Your Family we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.

Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by your kind intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.

Saint Joseph, most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by your prayers in all our spiritual and temporal necessities; that we may be able to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and you, for all eternity. 

Our Father, Hail Mary and Gloria three times. (Catholic Family Handbook)

A Family Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of our family. Enlighten our hearts and minds that we may live more fully this vocation of love. In our daily life and work, may we reflect the self-giving love which you, O Father, eternally show with your Son and the Holy Spirit. Let your love be evident in the peace that reigns in our home and in the faith we profess and live. May our family always be a place of generosity, understanding, forgiveness and joy. Kindly give us the wisdom and courage to be witnesses to your eternal design for the family; and grant that the Holy Family of Nazareth may always guide our path to holiness as a family. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen (Archbishop William Lori)

Prayer for a Married Couple
O God, unite our hearts in the never-ending bond of pure love. May our sacrament bring you happiness and may your generous love for us be returned to you, many times over. May the peace of Christ live always in our hearts and in our home. May we continue to have true friends who stand by us both in joy and in sorrow. May we be ready and willing to help and comfort all who come to us in need, and may the blessings promised to the compassionate someday be ours. May we find happiness and satisfaction in our occupations. May daily problems never cause us undue anxiety, nor the desire for earthly comforts dominate our lives. May you bless us with many more happy years together and may you one day welcome us together into your eternal kingdom. Amen.

Prayer for our Parents

O Almighty God, you gave us the commandment to honor our father and mother. In your loving kindness hear my prayer for my parents. Give them long lives and keep them well in body and spirit. Bless their labors; keep them always in your care. Bless them generously for their loving care for me. Grant that, through your grace, I may always be their support and comfort, and that, after our life together on earth, we may experience the joy together praising you forever.

Liturgical Prayer on a Marriage Anniversary
God, Creator of all things, who in the beginning made man and woman they might form the marriage bond, bless and strengthen the union of your servants N. and N., that they may show forth an ever more perfect image of the union of Christ with his Church.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Prayers of Spouses for Each Other
Lord Jesus, grant that I and my spouse may have a true and understanding love for each other. Grant that we may both be filled with faith and trust. Give us the grace to live with each other in peace and harmony. May we always bear with one another's weaknesses and grow from each other's strengths. Help us to forgive one another’s failing and grant us patience, kindness, cheerfulness and the spirit of placing the wellbeing of one another ahead of self.
May the love that brought us together grow and mature with each passing year. Bring us both ever closer to you through our love for each other. Let our love grow to perfection. Amen.

Lord, bless this dear person whom you have chosen to be my spouse. Make his life long and blessed. May I become a great blessing to him (or her), a sharer in all his sufferings and sorrows, and a suitable helper in his changes and difficulties in this life. Make me lovable forever in his (or her) eyes and forever dear to him (or her). Keep me from all unreasonableness of passion and whims. Make me humble and giving, strong, dedicated, appreciative, prudent and understanding. May we ever take delight in each other, according to your blessed Word, both sharing in your Divine love. Amen

Wife’s Prayer
O merciful Lord God, who in the beginning didst take Eve out of the side of Adam and didst give her to him as a helpmate: grant me grace to live worthy of the honorable estate of matrimony to which Thou hast called me, that I may love my husband with a pure and chaste love, acknowledging him as my head, and truly reverencing and obeying him in all good things; that thereby I may please him, and live with him in all Christian serenity. Keep me from all worldliness and vanity. Help me, O Lord, that I may, under him, prudently and discreetly guide and govern his household. Let no fault of mine aggravate any sins by which he may be especially tempted; enable me to soothe him in perplexity, to cheer him in difficulty, to refresh him in weariness, and, as far as may be, to advise him in doubt. Give me understanding so to fulfill my part in the education of our children, that they may be our joy in this world and our glory in the next. Grant that our perfect union here may be the beginning of the still more perfect and blissful union hereafter in Thy kingdom; and this I pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots, for the Strengthening of Marriages
Blessed Mother, take into your hands
the knots that affect married couples,
and with your long fingers of love and grace
undo these knots for the glory of God.
Visit married couples with your grace;
renew their sacramental covenant,
increase God's love in them,
and strengthen their bond of peace
so that, with their children,
they may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us

Prayers for Peace in the Family
Lord Jesus, be with my family. Grant us your peace and harmony, an end to conflict, and division. Give us the compassion to better understand one another, wisdom and love to assist one another, and trust and patience to live peacefully together. Grant that through the intercession of your Mother, Mary, and St. Joseph, our family may become a holy family accepting one another, working together in unity, selflessly dedicated to one another and to you. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for a Family
O Dear Jesus, I humbly implore you to grant your special graces to our family. May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith. I beg you, dear Jesus, to protect and bless all of us, absent and present, living and dead. O Mary, loving Mother of Jesus, and our Mother, pray to Jesus for our family, for all the families of the world, to guard the cradle of the newborn, the schools of the young and their vocations. Blessed Saint Joseph, holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by your prayers in all the necessities of life. Ask of Jesus that special grace which He granted to you, to watch over our home at the pillow of the sick and the dying, so that with Mary and with you, heaven may find our family unbroken in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Amen.

Liturgical Prayer for Relatives and Friends
O God, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit have filled the hearts of your faithful with gifts of charity, grant health of mind and body to your servants for whom we beseech your mercy, that they may love you with all their strength, and with all their love do what is pleasing to you.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Spiritual Reading - Wikipedia

One of my contributions at Wikipedia

Spiritual reading is a practice of reading books and articles about spirituality with the purpose of growing in holiness.
Spiritual reading is devoted to the reading of lives of saints, writings of Doctors and the Fathers of the Church, theological works written by holy people, and doctrinal writings of Church authorities. It is different from lectio divina which focuses on the bible.
The biblical basis is St. Paul's advice "Attend to reading" (1 Tim 4:13) which meant that Timothy his disciple should "apply to the reading of holy books, not in a passing way and for a short time, but regularly and for a considerable time," said St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Catholic Church on Moral theology. St. Bernard of Clairvaux said that "spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and paradise won."
All the founders of religious orders have strongly recommended this holy exercise, states St. Alphonsus. And in the early 20th century, St. Pope Pius X recommended this practice as a means of holiness.

Basis and advantages

The biblical basis of this practice is St. Paul's advice to his disciple Timothy whom he appointed bishop. St. Paul told him to "Attend to reading." The word "attend" an allusion to the many other concerns that a bishop has to attend to. By this, according to St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church on Moral theology, the Apostle Paul "wished him to apply to the reading of holy books, not in a passing way and for a short time, but regularly and for a considerable time."
The Fathers of the Church recommended this practice: St. Jerome says that when we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us. St. Ambrose of Milan says the same: "We address him when we pray; we hear him when we read."
Spiritual reading is an instruction in prayer and virtue, according to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and thus he said that "spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and paradise won." St. Josemaria Escriva explained that spiritual reading "builds up a store of fuel. — It looks like a lifeless heap, but I often find that my memory, of its own accord, will draw from it material which fills my prayer with life and inflames my thanksgiving after Communion." (The Way 117)
Spiritual reading provides access to spiritual advice from masters of spirituality, says St. Alphonsus Liguori. Thus, St. Pius X further thoroughly explained:
Everyone knows the great influence that is exerted by the voice of a friend who gives candid advice, assists by his counsel, corrects, encourages and leads one away from error. Blessed is the man who has found a true friend; he that has found him has found a treasure. We should, then, count pious books among our true friends. They solemnly remind us of our duties and of the prescriptions of legitimate discipline; they arouse the heavenly voices that were stifled in our souls; they rid our resolutions of listlessness; they disturb our deceitful complacency; they show the true nature of less worthy affections to which we have sought to close our eyes; they bring to light the many dangers which beset the path of the imprudent. They render all these services with such kindly discretion that they prove themselves to be not only our friends, but the very best of friends. They are always at hand, constantly beside us to assist us in the needs of our souls; their voice is never harsh, their advice is never self-seeking, their words are never timid or deceitful.
"When I read holy books," says St. Gregory the Theologian about the books of St. Basil the Great, "then the spirit and body are illumined and I become the temple of God and the harp of the Holy Spirit, played by divine powers through them I am corrected and through them I receive a kind of divine change and I am made into a different person."
Reading of holy books is also a way to fight temptations: "Endeavor to have always in your hand a pious book," advised St. Jerome to his disciple Salvina, "that with this shield you may defend yourself against bad thoughts."
All the founders of religious orders have strongly recommended this holy exercise to their religious, said St. Alphonsus.

Examples of sanctifying effect

Throughout the history of Christian spirituality, spiritual reading has been seen to be of great benefit to many souls, and according to St. Pius X, "There are many striking examples of the salutary effects of the reading of pious books."
St. Ignatius of Loyola decided to be a man of God after reading the life of Jesus and some saints
Some examples are:
  • St. Augustine of Hippo, considered one of the greatest Fathers of the Church, converted to the Catholic Church upon hearing a boy tell him" "Take, read; take, read." He recounted that "I took (the epistles of Paul the Apostle), I opened, I read in silence; it was as though the darkness of all my doubting was driven away by the light of peace which had entered my soul."
  • St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of what is considered as the largest religious order in Catholicism, decided to live a saintly life, after reading a volume of the lives of the saints which he accidentally took up while he was in a hospital bed.
  • St. Edith Stein, Patron of Europe, converted to Catholicism after reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila on a holiday in Göttingen in 1921, at the age of 29. One evening Edith picked up an autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila and read this book all night. "When I had finished the book, I said to myself: This is the truth." She went out the next day to buy a missal and a copy of the Catholic catechism.
  • Thomas Merton, a known spiritual writer, read a book by Étienne Gilson, on "The Elements of Christian Philosophy," and decided to study Catholicism. He later converted and became a Trappist monk.


St. Alphonsus recommends some principles and attitudes for spiritual reading.
  • Ask God for help beforehand, because through reading it is God who speaks to us. Thus he recommended the prayer of Samuel: Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. Speak, O my Lord, for I wish to obey you in all that you will make known to me to be your will.
  • The exclusive purpose of the reading is to advance in divine love, and not to acquire learning and indulge in curiosity. To do spiritual reading with false intentions is "a study unprofitable to the soul," and "lost time."
  • Read slowly and with attention. "'Nourish your soul,' says St. Augustine, 'with divine lectures.'" To be nourished, he said, one must chew and well and ponder well, and apply the teachings to oneself. "And when what you have read has made a lively impression on you, St. Ephrem counsels you to read it a second time...Besides, when you receive any special light in reading, or any instruction that penetrates the heart, it will be very useful to stop, and to raise the mind to God by making a good resolution, or a good act, or a fervent prayer. St. Bernard says, that it is useful then to interrupt the reading, and to offer a prayer, and to continue to pray as long as the lively impression lasts."
  • Select some sentiment of devotion, at the end of reading. "Carry it with you as you would carry a flower from a garden of pleasure."


Haerent Animo by Pius X

St. Alphonsus Liguori on Spiritual reading

Read any books lately? A Plan for a lifetime of spiritual reading by Fr. John McCloskey

Catholic lifetime reading plan

Sermon on Reading Spiritual Works by Archbishop Platon of Kostroma

Spiritual reading and its effects on human growth

Sunday, October 15, 2017


There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world. (St. Teresa of Avila)

Get the one-page leaflet or executive summary here or here (PDF).  

Why is pride an enemy, even our greatest enemy?

  • Pride, “inordinate self-love, is the cause of every sin.” (St. Thomas) If sin is our enemy, the only real evil, and pride its cause, then pride is the greatest enemy within us we have to overcome.
  • Pride was the sin of Adam and Lucifer.  It is “the chief cause of suffering in every nation, in every family since the world began.” (C.S. Lewis)
  • Pride is the trickiest, most devious enemy. It blinds us, so we can’t see our own pride. The proud man thinks he is humble and the others proud. Not himself.
What is pride, so I can fight it?

  • Pride is inordinate or disordered love of our own excellence. (St. Thomas).
  • If "humility is truth", then pride is falsehood. The falsehood that I am the center of the universe and of everybody else's attention. Not God. Thus, pride is “playing God”. (Peter Kreeft)
  • Pride is essentially competitive. (C.S. Lewis)  You treat others as rivals, and put them down, so you can go up.
What are the benefits of not being proud, of being humble, of living in the truth?

  • Divine help. “God resists the proud and gives his grace to the humble.” Only an open, empty glass can be filled with new wine.
  • Greatness. Mary, the greatest person after God, attributes all her greatness to her “lowliness”. “Those who humble themselves as little children are the greatest in the Kingdom of God.” (Jesus)
  • Overcoming sins. If pride is the cause of all sin, then overcoming pride helps us overcome our other sins, such as lust, avarice, dishonesty, sloth (repulsion to God who is Joy and Goodness).
  • Real nobility. “Humility is the most important virtue,” (St. Bernard) “the foundation of all the other virtues. If humility is not in a soul, he does not have any virtue, except mere appearance.”  (St. Augustine)  
  • Deep peace. Pride is the root of gloom. “90% of our personal problems come from thinking too much of ourselves.” (St. Josemaria)  While humility brings tranquility: “rest for your souls.” (Jesus)
How can I know if I am proud, since pride is hard to spot? (This list is mainly based on the teachings of St. Josemaria)
  1. Preferring your own excellence over your neighbor's. Making your thoughts and concerns revolve around yourself; not around God and others. Thinking too much of how others think of you
  2. Being touchy. Easily taking offense at the slightest hint of criticism which might not even be directed towards you. Resenting anything that brings down others’ opinion of you.
  3. Being vain. Thinking yourself better than what you really are. Having an undue esteem over your appearance or achievements
  4. Not recognizing the truth of your personal defects and deficiencies. Making excuses when corrected. Hiding some humiliating faults from your spiritual director or life coach. Being sad over not having certain possessions, and good qualities
  5. Thinking of yourself as better than others. Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say. Mentioning yourself as an example. Being hurt that others are praised.
  6. Being arrogant. Having an exaggerated sense of your own importance or abilities. Refusing to carry out menial tasks
  7. Being domineering. Always wanting to get your own way. Quarreling when you are not right or when you are, insisting stubbornly or with bad manners
  8. Looking down at others and putting them down. Despising the point of view of others. Being ready to reveal defects of anyone who stands out (crab mentality). Insulting and ridiculing others
  9. Seeking yourself and seeking attention for yourself. Avidly going after praise. Boasting and making undue public display of one’s own achievements. Faking pain, illness and sadness to get attention. Speaking badly about yourself, so that others may form a good opinion of you, or contradict you. Letting drop hints of self-praise
  10. Not having a deep awareness of yourself, as sinner and a creature totally dependent on God. Not acknowledging that everything we are, do and own come from God, and will disappear without God’s conserving power. Not acknowledging that you are unworthy of all honor or esteem
What virtues are not really pride, and go with humility?

  • Magnanimity, striving to do great things that bring great honor
  • Responsibility and courage, sticking to do good despite discomfort
  • Care for the body with good posture and dignified clothes.
How can I overcome pride and become humble?

  1. Always relish these most basic truths, especially when you do good:  I came from nothing, apart from Christ I can do nothing, I am God’s most beloved child, and I am his instrument in his work.
  2. Make humility a priority. Only God can overcome sin, but we have to do our part. Go often to Jesus’ healing sacraments. Beg him for humility, walking in the truth of our littleness and greatness as God’s kids. See the conquest of pride as “the best of the best” of your daily mortifications, (Cf. CPB 9)  prizing unperceived sacrifice.
  3. Know yourself. Practice self-examination. Be exacting in detecting acts of pride with the help of the list above. Crucial is Jesus’ humble tax collector’s prayer: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
  4. Think often of your inevitable death.  And your rotten, forgotten remains after death. Both “human” and “humility” come from humus, meaning earth, ground, soil and dirt.
  5. Be happy to say “My mistake, I’m sorry!” Be grateful for humiliations and criticisms. Even saying inside: they will say worse things if they knew my thoughts. The gauge of true humility is “when you are humbled by others and you bear it for Christ.” Sing: “I more gladly boast of my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest in me. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:19)
  6. Forget yourself. “A person wrapped up in himself makes a small package.” (H.E. Fosdick) While humility is the ecstatically joyful self-forgetfulness of the mystics focused on God. (Cf. P. Kreeft)
  7. Trust God and not yourself.  And learn to ask for help. The proud Pharisee “trusted himself”. Pride grows when we trust our abilities.
  8. Serve and make others great. Be upbeat and encouraging when they do good. See their defects as opportunities to serve them. “To give oneself sincerely to others is so effective that God rewards it with a humility filled with cheerfulness.” (St. Josemaria)
  9. Enjoy putting God’s tender love (not yourself) at the center of all moments of the day, especially at prayer. Thank him for all and offer all glory to him. Heed Jesus’ invite:  Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.  Make your heart and mind revolve around the utmost act of humility and love, Jesus’ sacrifice.
  10. Submit and embrace God.  Clearly, you are not God. And so your mind, body and, above all, your will need to “embrace” God. Humility is the submitting embrace of God who is Love that liberates from within, as we absorb his divine life: prayer, penance, chastity, and obedience. Jesus’ embrace that saved all is “Not my will but yours be done.” This key attitude, too, will save us from our sins --from pride, their cause-- and make us an active protagonist in Jesus’ work of saving all men from their sins.

Get the one-page leaflet or executive summary here or here (PDF).  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Opus Dei Prelate: Intensify apostolic work with young people

After mentioning the next Synod's  topic Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, the Prelate in his last pastoral letter said, "encourage you to consider how we can intensify this primary concern of our Christian vocation" which is "the apostolic work with young people". 

The Vatican's preparatory document for the Synod contains many helpful ideas: 

The Prelate emphasized St. Josemaria's teaching that 90% of a child's vocation come from his parents. Because of the parents' vast, preponderant influence, parents should be helped so that they can, as the Prelate stressed, (1) love their children, (2) demand from them, (3) put them in contact with suffering, (4) help them become "souls of prayer." (See free ebook on parenting; Strategies for a Great Family, Pope Francis' Most Important Advice to Your Family)

For a quick overview of the contents of the preparatory document, below are key excerpts:

Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment: Preparatory Document


The Church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today.

For each person, the vocation to love takes concrete form in everyday life through a series of choices. The purpose of vocational discernment is to find out how to transform life choices, in the light of faith, into steps towards the fullness of joy to which everyone is called.

The strength and beauty of young people: the ability to rejoice at the beginning of undertakings, to give oneself totally without going back, to pick oneself up and begin again in search of new conquests.


International studies on some characteristic features of young people in our times.

(1) Belonging and Participation. Young people do not see themselves as passive recipients of pastoral programs or policies. Many wish to be an active part in the process of change taking place at this present time.
Young people, on the one hand, show a willingness and readiness to participate and commit themselves to concrete activities in which the personal contribution of each might be an occasion for recognizing one’s identity.
Besides passivity, a lack of confidence in themselves and their abilities can manifest itself in an excessive concern for their self-image and in a submissive conformity to passing fads.

(2) Personal and Institutional Points of Reference. Young people have a need for persons of reference, who are close-by, credible, consistent and honest, in addition to places and occasions for testing their ability to relate to others (both adults and peers) and dealing with their feelings and emotions.
The role of parents and families is crucial yet sometimes problematic. The older generations often tend to underestimate young people’s potential. They emphasize their weaknesses and have trouble understanding the needs of those who are very young. Parents and adult educators can also be aware of their own mistakes and know what they would not want young people to do. However, oftentimes they do not have a clear idea of how to help young people focus on the future. In this regard, the two most common reactions are preferring not to say anything and imposing their own choices. Absent or overprotective parents make their children more unprepared to face life and tend to underestimate the risks involved or are obsessed by a fear of making mistakes.
The young oftentimes nourish mistrust, indifference or anger towards institutions; They would like the Church to be closer to people and more attentive to social issues
Though young people are not in open “opposition”, they learn to live “without” the God presented by the Gospel and “without” the Church and to rely on alternative and minimally-institutionalized forms of religion and spirituality or to take refuge in sects or religious experiences with a strong affiliation

(3) Towards a Hyper-Connected Generation. Younger generation is characterized by its relationship with the modern technologies of communication and what is normally called the “virtual world”, which has very real effects.

Young People and Choices

Within this fluidity and insecurity, the transition to adult life and the building of a personal identity increasingly require a “reflective course of action.”
They have a conception of freedom as the possibility of having access to ever-new opportunities is emerging: “Today I choose this, tomorrow we'll see.” In affective relationships as in the world of work, the horizon consists of options which can always be reversed rather than definitive choices.
In this context, old approaches no longer work and the experience passed on by previous generations quickly becomes obsolete. Thus, Pope Francis asked: ‘How can we reawaken the greatness and the courage of comprehensive choices, of the impulses of the heart in order to face academic and emotional challenges?’. The phrase I use very often is: take a risk! Take a risk. Whoever does not risk does not walk. ‘But what if I make a mistake?’ Blessed be the Lord! You will make more mistakes if you remain still”


Some ideas will now be presented regarding accompanying young people

1. Faith and Vocation

Faith is seeing things as Jesus does (cf. Lumen fidei, 18). Faith is the source of vocational discernment. If the vocation to the joy of love is the fundamental call that God has placed in the heart of every young person so that each one’s existence will bear fruit, faith is both a gift from on high and a response to feeling oneself chosen and loved.
The Bible has numerous accounts of young people receiving a vocational call and their making a response.
Human beings cannot easily recognize the concrete form of that joy to which God calls each one. Human beings are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning

2. The Gift of Discernment

Vocational discernment  is  the process by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one’s state in life
How does a person live the good news of the Gospel and respond to the call which the Lord addresses to all those he encounters, whether through marriage, the ordained ministry or the consecrated life? Where can a person’s talents be put to good use: a professional life, volunteer work, service to the needy or involvement in civil and political life?

The three verbs in Evangelii gaudium, 51, used to describe discernment, namely, “to recognize,” “to interpret” and “to choose”, can be of assistance in mapping out a suitable itinerary
Recognizing:  requires making emotional richness emerge. Meditating on the Word of God mobilizes the passions and offers the possibility of making them emerge. Ability to listen and on one’s feelings and emotions, without avoiding the arduous effort of silence, a critical step in personal growth
Interpreting: to understand what the Spirit is calling the person to do through what the Spirit stirs up in each one. Requires patience, vigilance and even a certain knowledge; requires an honest confrontation, in light of God's Word, with the moral demands of the Christian life, always seeking to apply them in the concrete situation; seek a way to make the most of one’s gifts and possibilities; carried out in an internal dialogue with the Lord; assistance of an experienced person in listening to the Spirit is a valuable support
Choosing: Promoting truly free and responsible choices remains the goal of every serious pastoral vocational program. Discernment is the main tool which permits safeguarding the inviolable place of conscience, without pretending to replace it (cf. Amoris laetitia, 37). A decision needs to be proven by facts to see whether it is a right decision

3. Paths Towards Vocation and Mission

Vocational discernment is not accomplished in a single act; a long process unfolding over time, during which one continues to monitor the signs used by the Lord to indicate and specify a vocation that is very personal and unique.
Every vocation is directed towards a mission; Accepting the mission implies the willingness to risk one’s life: to travel the way of the cross, in the footsteps of Jesus, who firmly set out on his journey to Jerusalem (cf. Lk 9:51) to offer his life for humanity. Only by giving up being selfishly occupied with one’s needs does a person become open to accommodate God’s plan
Contact with poverty, vulnerability and need are of great importance on the road to vocational discernment

4. Accompaniment

Three basic beliefs underlie the process of discernment: First is that the Spirit of God works in the heart of every man; Second belief is that the human heart, because of its weakness and sin, is normally divided because it is attracted to different and even contrary feelings; The third belief is that every way of life imposes a choice
The Church’s spiritual tradition emphasizes the importance of personal accompaniment:  it is a question of fostering a person’s relationship with God and helping to remove what might hinder it. (cf. Jn 3:29-30).

III PASTORAL ACTIVITY: How does the Church help young people accept their call to the joy of the Gospel?

1. Walking with Young People

Accompanying young people requires going beyond a preconceived framework, encountering young people where they are, adapting to their times and pace of life and taking them seriously.
The task involves learning to allow for something new 

(1) Going Out: primarily, by abandoning the rigid attitudes which make the proclamation of the joy of the Gospel less credible; leaving behind a framework which makes people feel hemmed-in; and by giving up a way of acting as Church which at times is out-dated.
The young will find the Church more attractive, when they see that their unique contribution is welcomed.

(2) Seeing: willingness to spend time with them, to listen to the story of their lives and to be attentive to their joys, hopes, sadness and anxieties; all in an effort to share them.

(3) Calling: means awakening a desire and jarring people from what blocks them or from the complacency which slows them down. Calling means asking questions which have no ready-made answers (See article on Factors for a vocation to celibacy)

2. Agents

All Young People, Without Exception.  Each community is called to be attentive to young people
A Responsible Community. The entire Christian community should feel the responsibility of educating new generations; needs to give major importance to young people’s involvement in the structures of participation; devise and offer young people significant experiences of growth and discernment
The aspect of planning shows signs of unpreparedness and a lack of skill, a situation which needs to be avoided by more earnestly undertaking the task of thinking, realizing, coordinating and implementing the pastoral program for young people in a correct, consistent and effective manner
People of Reference. The role of credible adults and their cooperation is basic in the course of human development and vocational discernment. This requires authoritative believers, with a clear human identity, a strong sense of belonging to the Church, a visible spiritual character, a strong passion for education and a great capacity for discernment
Even providing them with major pedagogical skills. Being close to young people
Parents and Family: the irreplaceable educational role played by parents and other family members needs to be acknowledged 
Teachers and other Persons in Education: many Catholic teachers are involved as witnesses in universities and schools in every grade and level. Responding generously to one’s proper vocation is the primary way of performing pastoral vocational work.

3. Resources. 

The Means of Expression in Pastoral WorkWe sometimes have a difficult time finding the proper language and expressions to speak to young people; sports are an educational resource, because they offer opportunities in many ways. Music and other artistic expressions are in themselves a privileged means with which young people can manifest their individuality.
Educative Care and the Path of Evangelization. Get accustomed to the fact that the ways of approaching the faith are less standardized, and therefore we must become more attentive to the individuality of each person. The challenge for communities is to receive everyone, following the example of Jesus
Silence, Contemplation and Prayer. Finally and most importantly, no discernment is possible without cultivating a familiarity with the Lord and a dialogue with his Word. In particular, Lectio divina is a valuable method.  In an increasingly noisy society, one fundamental objective is to provide the young with opportunities to enjoy the value of silence and contemplation and to receive formation in understanding one’s experiences and to listen to one’s conscience.

4. Mary of Nazareth

Each young person can discover in Mary’s life the way to listen, the courage that faith generates, the depths of discernment and dedication to service. 

QUESTIONS: Evaluating the Situation

What kinds and places of group gatherings of youth, institutionalized or otherwise, have a major success outside the Church, and why?
How are families and communities involved in the vocational discernment of young people?
How do schools and universities or other educational institutions (civil or ecclesial) contribute to young people’s formation in vocational discernment?
In what manner are you taking into account the cultural changes resulting from the development of the digital world?

The Vatican document can be found here