During a recent visit to Rome I was struck by the youthfulness of the Church. I don’t think this is simply because I am getting older; there just seemed to be young people everywhere I looked.
The young servers in the sacristy at St Peter’s greeted me with a smile, and the Vatican officials looked very young to me, as did the Swiss Guards. The columns of children weaving their way round the exhibition of 100 cribs, the young men preparing for the priesthood at the English College and the not-so-young men at the Beda College, indicated a new spirit at the heart of the Church which filled me with hope for the year ahead.
This caused me to reflect on the Church in our own Archdiocese, and I quickly came to the realisation that our local Church is youthful too. Our splendid Catholic schools are full of young people engaged with the Church in new ways, especially the Faith in Action project. The Animate team does what its name suggests and enlivens the spirit within our young Catholics. In so many of our parishes, moreover, young people’s liturgies and ‘little church’ are common.
Yes, even though February is a gloomy month, I feel uplifted by the spirit of youthfulness which is prevalent in the Church.
In one sense the Church, though ancient, is always new because the Holy Spirit lives in us. Pope Francis has this spirit of youthfulness and it emanates from him to us. Despite his years and some health problems, he remains young at heart. His example could be something to help us during these difficult days for our country. Let us be inspired by our young people to keep our spirits high.