I would like to share with you a small reflection I have made about the youth of today, starting with a couple of quotations that I found almost by chance online. One says: “Our world has reached a critical stage; there is no longer any relationship between children and their parents.” The second one says: “This youth is malignant and lazy; they will never be like the youth of the past.” They look like two quotes from newspapers of the present time, right? The truth is that the first one belongs to a priest of Ancient Egypt, 2000 B.C. and the second one is an engraving on a clay vessel from Ancient Babylon, 3000 B.C.!
These quotes should trigger a reflection in all of us, especially those who think our youth are “crooked” or “wrong.” Are we sure that the problem lies with our youth or is the problem with we who are in charge of caring for our youth? The truth is that our youth are not “crooked” or “wrong,” as many people say; our youth are simply asking for help, especially in this time of Pandemic!
It is obvious that COVID-19 has brought about enormous uncertainties for young people, pushing them into an invisible prison of isolation. Haphazard remote learning and not being able to get out and meet with their friends, have taken their toll on the emotional and mental well-being of our youth. If even before the Pandemic the statistics would say that phenomena related to traumas in the sphere of social and familial relationships such as bulimia, anorexia or depression were skyrocketing, this is even more so in the last few months where a computer or a smartphone has become the only way for our youth to interact. In addition, Pornography has become the real Pandemic among the teenagers!
Psychiatrists and Psychologists confirm something that I myself have also thought many times: the youth of today struggle to accept themselves because they feel unworthy. That is why they punish themselves. It should not surprise us that cutting, drinking and the use of drugs is rampant among young people today. We are in front of a generation that does not believe in being loved. Therefore, I think that our first duty is to knock on their doors and open them with mercy, love and forgiveness.
What did God do when He saw the fragility and the unhappiness of His children? He did one simple thing: He loved them. St. Paul says to the Romans: “God proves His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
To be loved means that God loves us before we become “good kids.” The experience of being forgiven and loved in this seemingly scandalous way is what our youth are lacking today. This was the experience of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, Matthew the disciple, and even Peter who became the first Pope. These and many other men (including myself) who failed in their lives were saved by the loving gaze of Jesus Christ. Our youth need to experience this same loving gaze.
We as a society are so focused on health and material wealth that we miss opportunities to experience the grace that comes from our loving God. If there’s anything Jesus showed us through his life here on Earth it’s that God will get us through anything we face in life and bring us to a greater good, but first we must put our trust in Him.
We who have faith must learn to proclaim it, not hide it. We must open the door for our youth to feel God’s love and experience the explosion of life that comes from living with God and allowing Him to work within us. St. Paul tells us, “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) We can all experience this love if we truly believe in God as our father and feel confident that no matter what happens in life, He will always provide for us.
My wish today is that in our homes and parishes our youth may come across God’s loving gaze and discover the wonderful gift of Life that shines within each one of us!
My name is Andrea Povero. I was born in a town called Ivrea, close to Turin, Italy.
I am almost 33 years old and I am the last one of 4 children.
When I decided to enter the seminary, I chose to enter into a “missionary seminary.” I went to a retreat close to Rome and there, together with 300 young men, I put my name into a basket. In another basket were the names of the all the missionary seminaries around the world. When my name was pulled from one basket, it was matched with the name “Boston” from the other basket.
I was sent to Boston in November 2007. I became a priest by the grace of God on May 19, 2018.
For the past two years I have been the Parochial Vicar of three parishes: St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain and Saint Mary of the Angels in Roxbury.