On the day of the spectacular descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostles were so filled with strength and courage, that Saint Peter went out and converted three thousand people that very day with his preaching. From these conversions we have the first ecclesial testimony: ‘They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life. […] All who believed were together and had all things in common’ (Acts 2: 42–44).
In concentration camps, diabolical methods of torture abound. Besides the various forms of physical abuse, prisoners are also subjected to harrowing psychological pressures.
One of Cicero’s famous sayings defines history as a thing ‘which bears witness to the passing of the ages, sheds light upon reality, gives life to recollection and guidance to human existence, and brings tidings of ancient days’ (De Oratore II, 9, 36). And it is precisely the witness of history that shows us how the ancient peoples lived, with their cultures given to idolatry, slavery and even human sacrifice.
There is a brief observation we would like to make to Francis. It can be noted in his prolific pronouncements that he often mentions the Church as if it were merely a socio-economic organization, rather than a divine institution. There is almost no situation or aspect of the Church that he has spared criticism.
‘He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him takes care to chastise him’ (Prov 13:24).
The natural love that parents have for their children such that they are even willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of their offspring is familiar to all. Due to this love, parents experience much concern when a young person begins to take the wrong path… They must teach them, reprehend and warn them, and when necessary, resort to a more severe measure: punishment.
A dedicated university student diligently prepares for final exams. His professional future will depend on his good results. Besides attending classes, the student will consult various sources, ask for advice from people who have already completed the same studies, and he will also seek the opinion of those who have mastered the topics at hand….but in all cases, his main attention will be focused on the lectures received from the professors. No one studies for exams depending merely on the assistance received from their companions! Security comes from following the guidance received from those who have the task of teaching.
In the calendar of Catholic Saints there are numerous saints who excelled in the formation of youth. Saints who, in the most varied junctures in history were called to support and sanctify this age-group, so often neglected…but which God never abandons. Among them, perhaps no one is as renowned for the vastness of his work as Saint John Bosco. His life, full of miracles, and his particular charism for carrying out his mission make of the father of the Salesian family the authority par excellence in the area of youth education. His work, born in the midst of adverse circumstances, has today spread throughout the world.
The word ‘charity’ almost always brings to mind material aid offered to the needy. And this it is: almsgiving is a praiseworthy habit, which has always been promoted by Holy Mother Church.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we find the intriguing story of an Ethiopian, minister of the Queen of Candace, who had travelled to Jerusalem to adore the true God. However, this high functionary of the court returned to his country full of uncertainties with respect to the Scriptures, which he meditated on without grasping their true meaning.
Throughout the ages, stories of heroes – whether true or legendary – have thrilled the hearts of the young. As a result of the disinterested courage and idealism characteristic of their age-group, adolescents dream of great undertakings. To such hearts, burning with desire for heroism, the Church has always presented models that would stimulate true valor, perfect audacity, and authentic generosity – in a word, sanctity. Who is not touched by the courageous lives of young people such as Saint Agnes, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, and Saint Maria Goretti?