The start of this new catechetical year comes in an exciting time for the Church especially in the United States. In September, the Holy Father Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia for the World Day of Families and in December the universal Church will enter the Jubilee Year of Mercy. With this in mind, as we set the tone for our Youth Formation year, we take our cue from the Holy Father’s theme for World Youth Day, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:3) as we set the tone for our Youth Formation year. Family, Divine Mercy, and purity of heart are our main focus as we continue the work of Christian formation for our young people. How appropriate for us as we face a culture that is wounded by sins against Christian Marriage and family life, sins against purity and chastity, a culture whose rapid deterioration has infected our young people and lead to confusion, further wounds and broken-heartedness. This is indeed a time to turn to God’s gracious gift of mercy.
Today, more than ever our families need to embrace the light of the Christian faith. It all begins and takes root in the heart. The heart is the seat of our emotions, of our love, and our desires. But a heart can be divided; it can be torn apart from what is good, from God, from selfless living, and from purity. A divided heart seeks pleasures, it seeks material possessions, and it seeks false hopes and empty promises. We end up drifting from what our hearts are made for, that is to serve God with good and ordered desires. The Lord warned us that we “cannot serve two masters; he will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Lk. 16:13). A pure heart is always directed first to God and only to God. A pure heart is only concerned with what is good, and seeks that good for the one that is loved. A pure heart learns true love, the love that Jesus taught us. A love that is sacrificial and never seeks to dishonor or abuse another. We should not be afraid of this love. In order for family life to flourish, pure hearts are needed.
As we start this new year, I invite you as parents to help foster in your children, purity of hearts and sacrificial and selfless love. How often have young people suffer greatly from failed love, from selfishness and greed. To keep your hearts pure and the hearts of your children pure, I urge you to take advantage of the Sacrament of Confession. It is when we experience God’s mercy over our broken and wounded hearts, that He will purify our family love. Never take this great gift for granted. Encourage your children to make frequent confessions. Do not be fooled by those who think they receive God’s mercy without this great sacrament. Confession is meant for us to use it as often as we need healing.
We implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy to watch over your children and protect their pure hearts from that which can break them or wound them. May her motherly care guide you and your children always toward that Divine Love which has no end.
Yours in the merciful love of the Lord,