07 April 2017
Beauty will save the world
“Beauty will save the world” may seem to be a popular slogan or an excessively vast and abstract program: yet, it is a very concrete expression for the Jesuit Father Jean-Paul Hernandez, Swiss of Spanish origin, chaplain of the University La Sapienza in Rome, and founder of the group “Living Stones” that has the aim of proclaiming the Gospel through art. His task, at the meeting organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in collaboration with the Synod of Bishops in Rome, where youth delegates and youth ministers from over 100 countries of the world and 44 Catholic groups, movements and international associations are gathered these days, was to illustrate the second part of the preparatory document for the Synod dedicated to young people and entitled “Faith, discernment, vocation.”
Fr. Hernandez did this by telling about the details of Caravaggio’s famous painting “The Calling of St. Matthew,” which is conserved in the Church of St. Louis of France, in Rome. He helped the young people to feel the painter’s narrative and theological wisdom, in the account of how the call leads to a choice and conversion, without overlooking any details.
The reports of the working groups echoed his presentation: discernment is like an adventure, we do not know where it will lead, but we do know that God is the One who calls us and that this is important for setting out on the road. It is essential to dialogue and to listen to the young people, but it is also necessary to find the right language to use with them, just as Jesus did. Finally, the community dimension and giving space to young people are important, so that they may feel themselves at home in the Church.
The afternoon session began with a lecture by Father Fabio Attard, General Councilor for the Youth Ministry of the Salesian Congregation, who presented the third and final part of the preparatory document of the Synod dedicated to the pastoral dimension, which could easily be reduced to a purely operational reading but should be seen in a prophetic perspective: the aim is not to do things but propose processes and dynamics. Fr. Attard’s synthesis was strongly focused on Pope Francis’ first Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Walking with the young people, said Fr. Attard, requires empathy and the spirit of communion: it is, in fact, a process, there is no goal defined at the outset, no one knows if or when they will arrive; the only thing we know is that were on the way and that this path requires courage, including the courage to change. As Pope Benedict XVI said: “God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change.”
According to Fr. Attard, Evangelii Gaudium is “bread for the journey of the pastoral workers.”
This part of the document was also discussed in depth by the delegates’ working groups. In their reports, they told about their experiences, reflections, and made work proposals.
In the evening, the young delegates from around the world went to the Auditorium of the Parco della Musica, where they listened to a concert offered by the group Gen Verde & Gen Rosso, music with a strong charge and energy help them face the last day of work, which will be dedicated to preparing the 2019World Youth Day in Panama.