May is a month of transitions. Children celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break. College students return home or perhaps begin an internship related to their area of study. Families gather for First Communion and Mother’s Day celebrations and look forward to upcoming vacations. With the passage from spring to summer, we spend more time outdoors and even contemplate the changes in the natural world as trees, shrubs, flowers and crops burst into life.
This is also a season in which significant milestones are met in the lives of many young people. Graduates look forward to beginning a new stage of their education, starting down a career path or entering a trade. Many young couples begin their married life together. Within our young people’s faith journeys, this is a season when many receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and guided by the Holy Spirit, set out to discover all that God has in store for them and the gifts they have to offer to the life of the Church.
We also thank God for the continued gift of young men who respond to His call to serve as priests. Later this month, we will gather as a local Church at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains to celebrate the ordination of seven men to the priesthood; seven newly ordained priests who will begin their ministry at parishes throughout the archdiocese.
In a particular way, the Church also looks to Mary during this month and praises God for her example of fidelity and generosity, as well as her tremendous contributions to God’s plan of salvation, even at a young age. Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to look to Mary as a model of faith. “In the heart of the Church, Mary shines forth. She is the supreme model for a youthful Church that seeks to follow Christ with enthusiasm and docility. While still very young, she accepted the message of the angel, yet she was not afraid to ask questions (cf. Lk. 1:34). With open heart and soul, she replied, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord’ (Lk. 1:38)” (Christus vivit, 43).
Over the centuries there have also been many young men and women, even boys and girls, whom we now venerate among the saints – youthful hearts who sought from an early age to dedicate their lives to God and to service of others. Pope Francis says, “The heart of the Church is also full of young saints who devoted their lives to Christ, many of them even to dying a martyr’s death. They were precious reflections of the young Christ; their radiant witness encourages us and awakens us from our lethargy” (CV, 49). Each of us, no matter our age, can also reflect the radiance of Christ’s love to the world around us.
As we pass through this month which is marked by moments of transition, accomplishment, celebration and change, may we also strive for spiritual renewal, reinvigorating our hearts with youthfulness and grace. Over the years of our earthly life, we must learn to rekindle the fire of God’s love which He infused into our hearts at Baptism, strengthened by the grace of Confirmation, and nourishes each time we receive the Eucharist. The work of conversion to the gospel is never completed. May this time of new beginnings afford us the opportunity to set out again with youthful wonder and hope toward all the good which God has in store for those who love Him.