Beautiful in their youth
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Today I would like to recollect the outstanding students’ chaplain from Poznan Fr Kazimierz Zarnowiecki. He was older than us when we worked in a large team of chaplains connected with the Polish Bishops’ Conference. During that time Fr Zarnowiecki also gave interesting retreats for chaplains for youth – one of his last retreats before he left Poland. His younger colleagues remembered them very well because they made deep impressions on them. He spoke about work with students and he had many observations since his ministry at the Poznan centre focused on conversations with young people – there were always students queuing to talk to him. During the retreats in Czestochowa he spoke to the young people of the 1970s, stating that they were not bad and spoilt – to get corrupt you need a lot of time and the young people of those days had little free time. Today we would say that our children have the chance to ‘be spoilt’ from their childhood. We can all see how the cancer of depravation, for example the one trickling from the media, can destroy young generations. We do not know what diagnosis Fr Zarnowiecki could have made today. I think that he would have stuck to his ways, claiming that despite all things young people were not bad, that they did not have time to preserve their bad habits and they could give them up if they wanted. We look at thousands of young people coming to the Mother of God, to Jasna Gora. We are delighted to see them. Of course, there are always some ‘wild seedlings’, cases that can be explained by the lack of upbringing, but the majority of young people, especially those in their final high school year, are beautiful young people who cannot be left to themselves and the unbridled world. First of all, we owe these young people good examples, we should show them higher values than only the material ones that people often desire at all costs. Young people want to follow certain ideas sincerely – by the way, time and again some adults address our editorial board proposing valuable texts; sometimes they want to leave something good and beautiful to young people; they want to preserve true values and ideas. Therefore, it is worth turning our attention to young generations that we should not lose sight of. I keep repeating to young people that they should enjoy the beauty of their youth that passes quickly but to which we often return in our recollections. The time of youth that is wonderfully spent is a very good time. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla used to enjoy such youthful days with his students who looked for a world of values. He was a support for those young people and at the same time he motivated them to act. When he learnt that something good was happening Poland he wanted to see it himself and to spread good ideas. One should refer to the so-called Sacrosong – festival of religious songs organised by Fr Jan Palusinski. How much was the Metropolitan of Krakow involved in each festival! We remember him participating in the last concert in the Cathedral of Czestochowa just before the conclave when he was elected. That’s why as Pope John Paul II he was moved during the World Youth Days since he understood young people. After the meeting in Czestochowa in 1991, these modest meetings were transformed into enormous manifestations of young people seeking for the sense of their lives, for love and hope. It is good that Benedict XVI has continued the work of John Paul II organizing the World Youth Days. The Holy Father’s message for the diocesan Youth Days, celebrated in cathedrals all over the world (24th World Youth Day) focused on hope. He can see the problems afflicting young people today, including the problems related to the economic crisis. He knows that their lives are not easy and their perspectives are not bright. And he gives his spiritual solution: he shows great hope the source of which is the Person of Christ. He also refers to the Year of St Paul, showing the Apostle to the Nations focused on Christ, for whom he is hope, the ‘mechanism’ mobilizing all his internal strengths to serve God. Benedict XVI shows the figure of St Paul to young people; Paul who, like them, was 20-25 when he decided to sacrifice all his young efforts to Christ since he found hope in him. Hope would lead him to heroic deeds, which contributed to the evangelization of the world in his days. These words of the Pope should not only be used to individual activities but to involvement of young people in Christian organizations or associations. Entering various groups and working in teams are very important. People, especially young people, learn to collaborate with others and have better chances to form their characters as well as they get to know social mechanisms. Being involved in groups makes young people strengthen their hope. And life without hope becomes really very difficult. We are thankful to Benedict XVI for focusing on hope that flows from Christ. Let this hope revive our young generations and make them find enough strength to discern in the world dominated by material values these values that Christianity brings and let them find life in accordance with its principles. May this Easter be a time of awaking hope that comes from deep faith in God.