Archbishop says youth are God's "secret agents"

Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart in a Pentecost pastoral letter calls young people God's "secret agents" whose evangelising mission in the world was "activated" at Confirmation.

"You have been chosen for a Mission," Archbishop Hart wrote to the young people of Melbourne, "The mission of God is the sole reason for the existence of the Church. It is her deepest identity. So it is your identity too, because you are full members of the Church."

The Archbishop said that young people have been chosen for this mission because they are "enthusiastic, confident, idealistic" and do not yet have the responsibilities of family or career.

"You understand the language of the modern world. You have compassion - a desire to help those who are in need. You have not become cynical about the world," he said.

He said that young people outpace elders in some areas, particularly technology, popular culture and the media - traits that are "precisely what is required for God's mission today."

The mission, Archbishop Hart wrote, is to take the "Good News" to the world. The Good News, he said, is that every human being has an infinite worth and dignity and that all human beings have a destiny. Most importantly, the mission must be Christ-centred: "The world must be conquered by Christ!"

In the letter, to be distributed this Sunday and posted on the Archdiocese of Melbourne website (melbourne.catholic.org.au), the Archbishop said that young people are being sent into "enemy territory."

"Jesus described your mission like this: 'All who wish to follow me must take up their cross.' Carrying the cross of Jesus requires you to be a true radical. The Cross is subversive. Your mission is to be counter-cultural. You must dare to be different," he wrote to the youth.

Archbishop Hart used Karol Wojtyla as an example of young people facing "anti-Christian" forces when during World War II the Nazis invaded his homeland in Poland.

The greatest threat today, he said, is the anti-Christian culture and ideologies that promote the "lie" of freedom.

"Today it seems that we live in perfect freedom. We are free to do what we like, when we like and how we like it. But behind this 'freedom' is a lie," he said.

"As you carry out your mission from God, the world will offer you many enticements to 'go over to the other side.' It will offer fantasy worlds of alcohol and drugs, short-lived sexual relationships without commitment to marriage and family, indifference, cynicism and even violence. "

"You are being sent into a culture that is descending into darkness. Your task is to bring God's light back into that culture."

He said the Church is there to support young Christians. Continuing the theme of secret agents on a mission he said young people can "'report to headquarters' by attending Mass or visiting the Blessed Sacrament." The Holy Spirit, he said, "has given you a world-wide support network: the Church."

Archbishop Hart concluded his pastoral letter by warning young people against proselytising. "You are not being asked to impose Jesus on the world, but to constantly propose him in what you say and how you live your life," he said.

"Start at the very beginning: God is love; and then love others as you have been loved. Work from there," he advised young people.

Pentecost Letter 2006: Youth and the Mission of the Church (Archdiocese of Melbourne)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Melbourne
Catholic Youth Ministry

Youth and the Mission of Church (Kairos Catholic Journal 28/5/06)

1 Jun 2006