The Year 2021 began with an aura of optimism. Thankfully, the dark clouds of fear & anxiety induced by the COVID-19 are slowly being dissipated by news of the government’s vaccination plans. Such glad tidings augur well for better times ahead. Indeed, the situation invites us to prepare for welcoming a renewed yet reshaped world order.
As the new year ushers in, it is worth looking into Point no. 30 of St. Josemaria Escriva’s classic book, The Way.
You’re shrewd. But don’t tell me you are young. Youth gives all it can – it gives itself without reserve.St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
At first glance, the reader might misread the above-cited point as a rude criticism. However, St. Josemaria simply wants to drive home the importance of reinvigorating one’s youthful spirit. After all, this is one way of renewing one’s internal disposition. With the pandemic having wreaked fear & anxiety amongst the general public, it is highly probable that people have lost their desire for bigger things in life. Hence, to survive this pandemic, it is important to renew and refresh one’s spirit: stay young at heart!
Dream and Your Dreams Will Fall Short
One cannot over-emphasize the need to re-instill a youthful spirit, specially at the beginning of the Year 2021 when the outlook seems brighter. During his life time, St. Josemaria would often say -“Dream and your dreams will fall short.” It is a fitting reminder that one should strive to stay youthful with the daringness to dream big. Otherwise, one could easily succumb to the “virus of indifference” which kills one’s spirit of initiative to look after and care for humankind and God’s creation.
Welcoming a Renewed yet Reshaped World Order: Dream Big
Interestingly, in his latest book, Pope Francis shares the same youthful sentiments exhorting everyone to help renew and reshape the new world order, saying that:
“This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities — what we value, what we want, what we seek — and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.”Pope Francis, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future
In essence, Pope Francis is urging people from different races and religions to embrace the spirit of youthfulness in preparing for the new world order. He stated in no uncertain terms: “God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis. We need economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life: to land, lodging and labor. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded, and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives. We need to slow down, take stock, and design better ways of living together on this earth.”1
Youthfulness Breeds Hope
In his message during the Diocesan World Youth Day 2020, Pope Francis challenged the youth by invoking Christ’s command to the dead son of the widow of Nain, as he said:
“Arise!” is also an invitation to “dream”, to “take a risk”, to be “committed to changing the world, to rekindle your hopes and aspirations, and to contemplate the heavens, the stars and the world around you.”Pope Francis, WYD 2020, April 5
Clearly, the world needs such youthful spirit to spur us on to a better future. This is the transformative character that Pope Francis longs and prays for, as may be gleaned from the following excerpt from the Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit:
“Young people are not meant to become discouraged; they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better. That is why I constantly urge young people not to let themselves be robbed of hope; to each of them I repeat: “Let no one despise your youth” (1 Tim 4:12).Pope Francis, Post synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit, 15
Fountain of Youth
Finally, in order to forever retain this youthful spirit, it is best to go to Jesus, who is our Lord and master. Pope Francis invites us to reflect on point no. 13 of Christus Vivit, as follows:
Jesus, himself eternally young, wants to give us hearts that are ever young. God’s word asks us to “cast out the old leaven that you may be fresh dough” (1 Cor 5:7). Saint Paul invites us to strip ourselves of the “old self” and to put on a “young” self (Col 3:9-10). In explaining what it means to put on that youthfulness “which is being renewed” (v. 10), he mentions “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another” (Col 3:12-13). In a word, true youth means having a heart capable of loving, whereas everything that separates us from others makes the soul grow old. And so he concludes: “above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14).Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit, 13
1 Excerpts from his latest book, Pope Francis, Let Us Dream