Journeying with Youth | Universal Apostolic Preference
Youth is a time for fundamental decisions and the beginning of fulfilling our dreams. And yet, young people today face enormous challenges: the uncertainty of relationship in a digital era, diminishing opportunities for work, the growth of political violence, discrimination, degradation of the environment. All of this makes it difficult for them to find a road where they can build supportive personal and family relations based on solid spiritual and financial foundations.
- from https://jesuits.global/en/uap/journeying-with-youth
As an organization that focuses on youth, Alpha Sigma Nu is acutely aware of the hope that young people radiate and the great joy that comes with working alongside college students. In incorporating this Preference into our vision, all of us need to listen and understand, to meet youth where they are and encourage them in their spiritual journey. We must value the voices and experiences of our youth. We must also open our hearts and minds to their view of the future. At the Curia's website you will find the Gospel basis for this preference along with guiding words of Pope Francis.
The steps to take action start with small changes in your own family, your own home. How do you relate to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews? Open yourself to listening and reflecting on their words. Open yourself through prayer. You can also support youth organizations that provide support to children who otherwise do not have the respect and guidance of adults.
Reflect on youth with this prayer from the Curia's website:
A Prayer for Young People Today
Shine your truth into our hearts. May we hear you in music, see you in art and experience you through the love and care of family, friends and teachers.
Build your hope into our lives. May we sense this hope rise in our hearts as we encounter the power of nature, the majesty of the oceans and the beauty in creation.
Come sow your wisdom into our minds. May we discover wisdom as we read their bibles, discuss deeper issues of life or encounter hardships or difficulties.
Come weave your love into our dreams. May we find vision in our interests, opportunities for our talents and aspirations for our abilities.
May we know you more and more.
Encouraging the spiritual journey of youth can be complicated. This Examen from Becky Eldridge's blog is specifically focused on teens. Share this prayer with the teens in your life.
Since youth are increasingly growing up in a digital age, perhaps the "there's-an-app-for-that" approach could be successful. Indeed, there IS an app for that! Download the Reimagining the Examen app for their phone or tablet to give them a very current way to approach a very old prayer.
Another way to encourage youth in their spiritual, social justice growth and in the creation of a better world is to support the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Jesuit Volunteer Corp NW. These organizations allow recent graduates to spend a year of service and communal living in the Ignatian tradition. It's a Jesuit program meeting youth where they are, all while providing much needed service in communities across the country and the world. Consider forming a welcoming committee for JVs in your city, encouraging college students you know to think about applying, or supporting the groups financially. These youth need the support of all of us but can also give back so much in the way of inspiration.