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To Christ through Mary

Why did the Holy Father travel to the Holy House in Loreto to sign the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit? My colleague posed this query on March 25, the day when the pope signed Christ Lives his latest apostolic exhortation, in the House of Mary in Loreto, a small town in Italy. The document focuses on young people and was published on April 2, the death anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II. 
 
We should assume that the pope had a well thought-out objective behind this choice of dates and place for the signing and publishing of the document. March 25 is the Solemnity of the Annunciation and it was within the four walls of the Holy House that Mary said her YES to the plan of God. The pope wants this House to be a home for all the young people to discern the will of God in their lives and to discover their own vocation “at the school of Mary.” 
 
The signing was an act of dedication and surrender. By dedicating the document to Mary, the first teacher of young Jesus, the Holy Father symbolically entrusted all the young people to the maternal care of the Mother. The new document calls on people to remember the importance of the family. 
 
April 2 is the death anniversary of Pope John Paul II, who had a special love and concern for the youth. Pope John Paul was the first pontiff to address a letter to young people in 1985 and the celebration of World Youth Days was one of his brilliant initiatives. By publishing the document on this date Pope Francis wishes “to link together the two pontificates, so loved by and close to the younger generations.” 
 
The document deliberates on three points: Listening, Discernment and Decision, which mirror three phases of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. 
 
The section on Listening identifies the danger of young people in their vigorous and frantic life failing to discover the plan of God for their personal and social life. The Holy Father therefore insists “that young people need to find moments of quiet and stillness to listen to God’s call and that God’s voice will not be heard amongst noise and agitation.” 
 
The section on Discernment explores the desire to discover God’s surprises as Mary did at the time of Annunciation with her query, “How will this happen?” The document encourages the young people to foster this attitude as it allows them to discover not only God’s plan is for their lives, but also how God’s grace will help them to develop the skills and abilities needed to live out his call for them. 
 
The section on Decision calls for total openness to the will of God as with Mary in her response to the angel: “Let it be done to me…” 
 
The document should serve as a perfect resource material for the diocese in its celebration of the Year of the Youth. Faithful from all walks of life must find time to go to the “house of the Mother” to be taught at the “school of Mary.” 
 
Young people look up to their heroes—movie stars or sports personalities—to be their role models. The apostolic exhortation calls on all people to make Mary their role model. jose