Building Trust, Sharing Hope: Pentecost Letter 2003
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
At every Mass we pray: ‘Protect us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.’
In these tough times I want young people to see there is a purpose to life. The bad times do pass away. There is hope.
Jesus is the giver of hope. The Church says: ‘Look to Jesus. He has not abandoned us. He offers us a future.’
Heroes: Being a Legend of Hope
Everyone looks up to someone. Role-models give hope because they show what’s possible. Sometimes we look up to people for trivial reasons—good looks, wealth, wisecracks, fame. But good role-models can be life-altering, hope-building.
Our real heroes are the people we respect and admire. These might include famous people—great Christian saints, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela; people we know—parents, a teacher, Church leaders; young people we want to imitate—school captain, older Uni student, sports hero, Christian youth leader.
Heroes don’t have to be popular and famous. Honesty and integrity are more important qualities. It takes courage to stick to your views and to live out the truth. Christian leaders stand out because they offer these qualities.
It’s hard to know how to live and what to choose. Real heroes guide and inspire us: there is life beyond dollars and fame. The Church calls us to a deeper honesty with ourselves.
Drugs and Suicide: Enemies of Hope
All of us feel hopeless sometimes. Many young people experience real despair. When they are ‘down’ they might turn to enemies of hope—like drugs or suicide.
Drug abuse robs people of hope and cheats them of their lives. Young people turn to drugs out of boredom; not feeling loved or understood; fear of failure; escape from difficulties or home pressures; or a need to be one of the crowd.
Even a few words, an invitation out, can make all the difference when someone is at risk from drugs.
Drug taking can start out as a fairly innocent experiment. But the brief highs quickly lead to sickening lows. The sense of freedom and being in control slips away.
Drugs are not the only cause of suicide. But a drug-culture is death-dealing: youth suicide will happen.
We need to be alert for people in danger. People at risk have to feel included, be spoken to. If you feel seriously worried about someone, speak to a person in a position of responsibility.
Life is precious. It can be tough but it is not meaningless. The Church opposes drug abuse, and cares for all young people in danger.
Hope Through Relationships: Trusting In Love
Friends and families are important sources of hope. Friends are for fun—but real friends are there when being together gets hard.
Family relationships give stability and support. Of course, family life is not always positive. Broken families can cause grief rather than hope. But loving families are there for life, and should be treasured.
We all have to choose what to do with our futures. Many consider giving themselves to God in a special way in priesthood or religious life. Many enter into loving marriages. Whichever we choose, these relationships are for life.
Romantic and sexual relationships stir up deep emotions and can be confusing. Casual sex treats our bodies like objects. It says: ‘life is meaningless, just enjoy’. And that is not true. It is telling a lie with your body.
Our relationships express our hopes, and give others hope. We need friends and companions we can trust. What the Church teaches about love and sex is for our real happiness.
Hope In The World: Trusting In Peace
Our world is not free of war. Faced with violence, Christian young people answer: ‘life is precious; our hopes can’t be betrayed; our leaders must respect all human life.’
We live in a throw-away society. Most of us have more than we need. Hope is still to be brought to thousands who feel hopeless.
Young people are gifted in speaking words of solidarity to the weak. They have a passion for justice issues. We have to build a world based on generosity and respect for all our brothers and sisters.
I encourage young people to become even more involved in works of prayer and justice. We need to carry the hope of Pentecost to all—to begin a new millenium of hope.
Jesus: Our Final Hope
Jesus felt real despair and loneliness. As he died, he felt completely abandoned. However hard and meaningless life seems, Jesus has been there. He found a way forward for us all.
Some people only turn to God when in despair. But God is always there. His Church offers a way to live which satisfies our deepest needs.
To have faith in someone is to trust them. Christians trust what Jesus says about himself, and about us. The Church speaks with Jesus’s voice when it teaches about marriage and family, drugs and suicide, justice and peace.
Perhaps someone reading this believes he or she has done serious wrong, or is living wrongly. Whatever you have done, you are not trapped. There is a way out. My own experience is that the biggest gift each of us can offer to others is our own hope—shared hope makes things new.
In St Matthew’s Gospel (Ch. 19) Jesus gave hope to a confused young man who asked about the search for meaning and hope in life. Jesus listened to him carefully and guided him. The young man asked: ‘What must I do? What is it to be good and hope-filled?’ Jesus offered him a new way of living. Jesus does the same to you.
Today, the Church offers us this new way of living. Millions of young people worldwide have take up the offer.
Jesus does not just offer words: he offers himself. This Pentecost, God pours out his Spirit of hope for you. I ask Christian youth to trust always in the Lord. He gives us new hope. Together, let us pass this hope on to others.
Most Reverend Denis J. Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne