A new Companion of youth?
Don Bosco wrote a small book for all his students to help them think about their lives and offer them ways of praying that were accessible to them. I have been working on what that might look like for our school leavers and for university students. I want to put extracts of the early draft here for comment and for suggestions. Reel free to respond with honesty and any creative suggestions.
Introduction- Your life = 700K.
That figure of 700,000 is not the salary you deserve. It is the number of hours of life people will have before they die, assuming no accidents or serious illness intervenes. It’s not that long, it’s totally mysterious and as an adult of 20+ years a quarter of that life has already gone. It’s never too late to take more control of your life and make sure you are looking after yourself spiritually.
Who are you?
The Catholic Church believes that you are unique, precious and personally connected to the eternal mystery of life. When you are amazed at beauty, when you fall in love or when you are full of gratitude for life, our church believes that you have been touched by the mystery that many people call God. In fact, Catholics believe that you are directly and personally related to that mystery. You share a family likeness with God simply because you are human. Perhaps that is why Jesus asked us to talk to that mystery as Our Father. So, Catholics believe that you are a child of God, full of dignity and with an eternal dimension to your story that is unfolding every day.
At times, you may feel worthless, overlooked and a failure. You may sense a dark pessimism in your life that seems so real and almost overpowering. But within that darkness of your soul our church believes that you meet something deeper and stronger, an unconditional love, that invites you to trust and believe in your own goodness. However you may feel from day to day, Catholics believe the promise of Jesus that he will be with each of us personally and always, until the end of time.
Who we are as human beings
We are part of a species that has evolved over millions of years into a thinking and feeling network of people that reflect the mystery behind all creation. We have broken through to awareness in a way that shares the mind and heart that built the whole of the universe. We are connected, spirally bound through our DNA, into the mystery of life. We are also interconnected with all other people: we breathe the same air, share similar feelings, struggle with the same problems and enjoy exploring our lives and relationships as well as the world in which we live.
This interconnectedness is a vital part of being human. We grow and develop together and flourish in teams and families rather than as isolated beings. These bonds between people seem to have a sacred side to them; friendships, marriages, promises and responsibilities express that sacredness. Being loyal to friends and saying “I love you” to someone are sacred aspects of us as a species. Without that sacred dimension, we cannot build communities or families. The Catholic church says this more clearly in its funeral service, “The ties of love that bind us together in life are not broken by death.” So, your relationships touch eternity, they will last for ever. Deep down we belong to one another. We have never, ever, been totally independent individuals.