One can see in many youngsters a desire for understanding and for life, which gives meaning to their own existence, also from a spiritual and faith point of view.
In a recent study, 50% of Portuguese youngsters surveyed said they were Catholic, 8% believed in other religions, 13% were atheists, 12% were indifferent, 9% were agnostics and 8% were non-religious. Among Catholics, only 18% declare themselves to be practicing. Even so, one can see in many young people, beyond numbers, a desire for understanding and for life, which gives meaning to their existence, also from a spiritual and faith point of view. But there is a lot of disorientation and the difficulty of adhering to the faith is more than a lot. They are often confused by the complexity of languages, phenomenologies, incomprehensible experiences. And we, adult Christians, are not capable of offering young people lasting, profound faith experiences that point to the high standard of existence; testimonies that embody the significance of life itself in Jesus; contexts and environments that offer encounter, joy and availability. Where the Christian faith is a strong and living community experience, young people have the opportunity to share their faith with those who live by faith, and adhere, heart and soul, to the encounter with Jesus. Faith is an encounter. An encounter with Jesus that passes through life and marks it, transforms it, revives it and renews it. A meeting that is Word. A meeting that is action. And Jesus continues to “make himself close” to all young people. And continues to call. And you still want them with you. Get closer to young people in our vicinity. When we make Him attractive and effective, Emmanuel, God with us. Savior and Teacher. Lord, alive and risen! It is like? In our presence of faith and testimony. In our readiness to cultivate those seeds of faith, more fragile than a mustard seed, that renew the world, history and society. In our willingness to give young people the possibility of living their faith, even in its inconsistencies, with the renewing power of the Spirit, whose impetus, intuitions and presence are in young people. Then, in the end, it won’t be a matter of numbers. But of our faith in young people. It is in the faith of youngsters that the faith of the Church that we all are rejuvenates. A youthful faith that we all need.
(Youth in Portugal Today (2021), Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation)