In recent years, pastoral plans, episcopal letters, talks, conferences and meetings like the AYE have all focused on one essential aspect of the vibrancy of the Church: young people.
How the OSA develops its own vocation to our youth, and what precisely that might involve at this time, was the subject of the presentation given by Luis Marin de San Martin OSA, under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, at the AYE in Lisbon and entitled "Augustinian Youth and the Synodal Challenge".
Before a crowd of Augustinian youths from all corners of the world, he opened with a reminder of Christus Vivat, the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, that "everything He touches becomes young, becomes new, is filled with life." Bishop Marín powerfully stated the pre-eminence of love, as St Paul teaches in Corinthians 13.
"If you are guided by fear, you will not hear the voice of God".
"Faith is worthless if you do not have love in your life", he pointed out. However, love, expressed with enthusiasm, is the key to understanding "our whole Christian reality… One cannot be a Christian if one does not feel enthusiasm for Christ. Enthusiasm takes you out of your egoism, and leads you to evangelisation, a necessity for every Christian. And let us not forget: we have been tasked with being Christ in the midst of the world. None of us in the Church can be spectators."
For Bishop Marín, "if you are guided by fear, you will not hear the voice of God." It is critical, therefore, to "overcome our insecurities, pretences, exaggerations, ideologies (all contrary to the Gospel, and merely destructive criticisms without love or compassion) and instead take on the scandal of the Good News", which, in short, is just "breaking with the normative framework of the moment" from a position of love.
To this end, the light of the Holy Spirit, the under-secretary of the Synod points out, helps us to renew the Church, and to renew ourselves.
Encouraging collaboration between circumscriptions
Before ending his talk, Bishop Marin wanted to gift some clear guidance to the young people of the Augustinian Youth Encounter in living our faith in a coherent way. Central to this is knowing what is the Augustinian charism: to know what it is to be Augustinian. Moreover, to tend to one’s personal interior well-being and nurture one’s prayer life, both individually and within the wider community. Next, to understand and embrace the power of Sacred Scripture, to unite ourselves with Christ in the Eucharist, to work together - whatever we do, and wherever we are - and build unity, fraternity and community across the different circumscriptions and among the lay groups we support.
"We are one family, not small orders within the Order of St Augustine. We are a single Order. This is why we have to review how we facilitate engagement and participation, rethink our pastoral activities, reach out to those on the edges of society, and make full use of the possibilities that the digital world offers us.”
This second day of the Augustinian Youth Encounter was marked by food, dance, music, prayer and art workshops, designed by the organisers to give participants a wide range of experiences and opportunities for personal development. When the workshops were over, the delegates headed off towards the Church of Portela to celebrate Holy Mass together, waving their flags and singing as they meandered through the streets of Santa Iria de Azóia.
After supper, it was time for the Prayer Vigil. In front of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, in his monstrance, lit only by candles and with soft guitar music playing, our Augustinian Youth experienced an intimate moment of closeness to the Lord. Prior General, Fr Alejandro Moral, had just landed in Lisbon and was also there. He will spend the next few days in Lisbon at AYE 2023.