Sunday, February 19, 2012

Met. Ephrem: What Can the Church Offer the Youth of Today?

The Arabic original, published in the Archdiocese of Tripoli's newsletter, al-Karmeh, can be found here.

What Can the Church Offer the Youth of Today?

Where are the dangers hidden? Are they in having fun and going out at night, and constant attachment to television, cell phones, or the internet? Or is it more than this, the danger of drunkenness and drugs?

Is it also the result of parents' indifference toward raising and caring for their children because men and women are occupied with other things, with their jobs? Or, more than this, is it on account of disagreement between parents and their constant quarreling? If a divorce does not occur, whatever the causes may be, the Church has a role that she must play, and in many cases it is deficient. Usually, we attribute this deficiency to priests' not giving sufficient pastoral care. So let's pose the question to ourselves: What should we do?

Despite what we usually think, the youth are searching for the truth of a life different from the life of present society. They are looking for absolute truth, for the Truth, for something sincere, for something free. They reject false, relative principles, even if they are trapped within them. This earthly life does not satisfy them. At the same time, they are in need of someone to guide them to something better, to something more perfect. Is the Church able to do this? This is the question.

You might object that I am posing questions but not giving answers. Yes! Because the issue requires careful examination. There is no ready, complete answer that can be offered. There are only some suggestions.

1. One must dare, whether one is clergy or laity, to expose what is false in the Church and in society without losing humility. True joy comes from the empty tomb, not from the empty promises of drunkenness and drugs.

2. A focus on family education, the family as a little church.

3. The youth of today are in need of guides, and even more than this, they are in need of spiritual fathers, whether clergy or lay, monastics or non-monastics, men or women. They are in need of models, of examples in their life, not just words. You wait for this to come from the bishop and from the priests only.

Yes! I say this to myself and to others: the bishop must be close to his flock. And this can happen in many ways. However, allow me to say also, do not always wait for the bishop to carry out the people's desires and interests. Allow me also, in a fatherly spirit, to remind you that the Church is not limited to the bishop and the priests. Every member of the faithful, according to his ability, is obliged to be a model and guide to others, and to the youth especially, whether as a father, a mother, a schoolmate, a fellow student at university, or a colleague at work. This is extremely important because laypeople have wider opportunities to shun material things and bear witness within this secular world of today, among people, through their careers and occupations. The path is the path of hope and it  always remains open.

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