Young Catholics are being called to be witnesses “along every road of life” Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said.
And rather than being told to make up our own minds “we need the teaching of the Church to guide us”.
In his homily last Sunday at the Youth 2000 annual Prayer Festival in Walsingham, Norfolk, Bishop Davies spoke on the question that Jesus asked Simon: “Who do you say I am?”
“We cannot forget this summer what the answer to this question has meant for those Christians across the Middle East who were given the choice between denying Christ or facing violent death. These Christians of our time, young and old, died rather than deny the One they knew to be the Christ. We call them ‘martyrs’ which means ‘witnesses’ because they were ready to stand up and to die in testimony to the Truth Himself,” Bishop Davies said.
“Today we cannot compare what is asked of us with their heroism. However, a ‘quieter martyrdom’ is increasingly being asked of Christians in western societies like our own. We will be ‘witnesses’ beside them whenever we stand up and stand by what we know to be true. We are to be witnesses along every road of life whether in education, in medicine, in industry, in law, in politics, in marriage and family, in the priesthood or in a consecrated life.”
He continued: “We are to offer the directions which we didn’t make up ourselves but received as a gift, the faith of the Church. Faced with contentious issues and choices we will be witnesses when we look not to the changing tides of human opinion but are ready to repeat Peter’s profession of faith: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Pope Francis insists we must be credible, approachable witnesses; ‘a person who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain and in love, will convince nobody,’ the Holy Father tells us!”
Bishop Davies spoke of how he was lost in Runcorn new town last Hallowe’en, and “after circling aimlessly for 40 minutes in the dark” asked for directions, after which he reached his destination in a few minutes.
His story “reflects the situation of fallen humanity where we know we have a goal, a destination, but in the dark cannot see the way,” he said.
“It is in the light of faith that we have found the One who can not only give us sure directions but is Himself ‘the Way’, the true direction for all of us: Jesus Christ our Lord. And His Church has been given the task of offering this direction to every new generation who might otherwise spend their whole lives going around in endless circles or being misdirected into ‘dead ends’ by passing devils.”
He went on: “It is not conflicting human opinions that we need. It would have been no help to me if the man by the roadside had said what is so often told to young people today: ‘Make your own mind up! Go left, go right – see what works for you!’ No, we need the truth, we cannot find our way without the Truth.”
For the past 25 years Youth 2000 “has never sought to offer guesswork to new generations but sure directions on which we can depend,” he said. “Catholicism pure and simple, as your spiritual director puts it. And we can be sure of these directions because the Holy Spirit has been promised to the Church. ‘When the Spirit of truth comes,’ Jesus promises, ‘he will guide you to the complete truth.’”
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