General Theme for the Jubilee Year: “Alive to the Spirit of Fr. Claret: Remember, Rejoice, and Rejuvenate”

General Objective for the Monthly Recollections: “Remembering the blessings of the Lord for the fifty Years, being grateful for the growth achieved through pioneers and contribution of all the members, we rejoice in the Claretian vocation and move forward with strength and renewed vigour to face the emerging frontiers after the example of Claret.”

Theme for the month of November 2019: Walking with the Young

Youth is an original and stimulating stage of life, which Jesus himself experienced, thereby sanctifying it (Christ Lives, Apostolic Exhortation) and in the Church it is always possible to encounter Christ “the companion and friend of youth”. But many young people experience today an eclipse of God. The growing culture of relativism teaches that anything that is pleasurable and profitable is good. But, a thing is good when it attains the purpose for which it was made. Therefore we are to make the youth reflect on, “Why were we made? What is the purpose of living?” Life is a mission; every man/woman is a mission. Let them remember their mission which is the true reason of their life on earth. To be young is a grace, a blessing. It is a gift that we can squander meaninglessly, or receive with gratitude and live to the full (Christ Lives). The Church has to appreciate and encourage the goodness found in the young and make them convinced that ‘Christ lives’ and that he is the way, the truth and the life. And only he can give what their heart truly seeks. Let them rejoice over the gift of youthfulness that finds meaning in Christ. Pope Francis observes that young people are not just the future of our world. They are its present; even now, they are helping to enrich it. Therefore they are to be rejuvenated in the Spirit. Readings:- a) Luke 24: 13-19:- Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” “They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. b) Autobiography Number 289:- Despite all I knew about the predominant local vices, I  didn't begin talking about them at the very outset; on the contrary, I saved such topics for later. I waited until I had won my audience over, and then instead of being offended  when I told them about their vices and little idols, they took my advice and mended their ways. I had noticed that at the beginning of a mission many came for the novelty of it, to see what I was going to talk about. If they had heard me reprehending them for their cherished vices, they would have been cut to the quick, and in their irritation they would have gone off upset, never to return, wishing a plague on the missionary, the mission, and
everyone attending it. 

Reflections:- 1) Jesus walks with the youth who are going away from Jerusalem (from faith, hope, morality etc.). At the beginning they take him as an outsider, a stranger. But Jesus continues walking with them and exhibits his condescension and humility. He incarnates his teaching into the language of the youth. He turns to be their companion - encountering, interacting and knowing their inner aspirations. He brings out from the core of their heart the Name – Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus churns the heart of the youth to bring out the goodness hidden within and they would later invite him to stay with them. He made them remember everything they had already heard of him, rejoice over the fact that he is alive and thereby rejuvenated their slackened spirit. Today we live in a world where it is difficult for the youth to believe in the God manifested in Christ Jesus. Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.

 2) St Claret, our Father Founder, knew the art of accompaniment. He teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other. Every young man/woman should be treated with maximum respect, irrespective of what he/she is. Youth is an age of difficulty; it is unstable; easily deceived; very apt to slip; and requires an exceedingly strong bridle. Claret used ‘love’ as the bridle to control the youth. He  teaches us that a mature Claretian is a man of love. Saint Augustine says, “We love only that which is beautiful.” If we want to win the youth, we are to be beautiful in their sight, we are to be young. According to
Shepherd of Hermas, (a 2nd c. Church Father) the Church does not become older in the course of the years. On the contrary it grows younger, because she is forever moving toward the Lord, meaning she is going toward the spring from which youth, newness, refreshment, and the strength of life stems. Being close to the Lord makes us young and relevant to the youth of our time.

 3) Henri J. M. Nouwen in his book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership says, “Many priests today increasingly perceive themselves as having very little impact or irrelevant. They realize that fewer and fewer young men feel attracted to follow in their footsteps. The secular world tells us, God, the Church and the ministers have been used for centuries to fill the gaps of incompetence ( of doctor, politicians, engineers etc. ), but today the gaps are being filled in other ways, and we longer need spiritual answers to practical questions... But beneath all the great accomplishments of our time there is a
deep current of despair. While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression and deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world... There is moral and spiritual poverty behind the contemporary facade of wealth, success, popularity and power. The life of sex, drugs, and violence prevails among the youth. But the cry arises from them, Is there anybody who loves me; is there anybody who really cares?” We must allow ourselves
to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success and to bring the light of Jesus there. 

Points for Personal Reflection:-
1) Do I see ‘accompaniment of the youth’ as a vocation I received?
2) Am I a ‘man of God’ and there by attractive to the youth, or a ‘man of the world’ and
thereby unappealing to them?
3) How can I make the young believe that ‘Christ lives’?

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