Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

Called to Be Young Prophets

Javier de Salas, Lay member of Regnum Christi from Barcelona who participated in the pre-Synod meetings

Javier de Salas is a Regnum Christi member and was a participant in the recent meetings of young people in Rome in preparation for the Synod on young people this fall.

These meetings took place March 19-24 with 300 young people representing the five continents and different groups in the Church and outside her. The 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be in October on the theme “Youth, faith and vocational discernment.” These meetings were at the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae (Mary, Mother of the Church), which the Legionaries run in Rome.

Here is an interview with Javier de Salas Castelltort, lay Regnum Christi member and team leader from Barcelona.

Javier, what were your expectations about this meeting and how did you feel about Pope Francis’s invitation to the young people themselves to prepare a document to present to the Synod Fathers in which they expressed their points of view and concerns?

My expectations at the beginning were not many because I did not know very well what would be done in this pre-synod meeting. Later, I researched and I realized the importance of this moment for young people. I think that the Pope and the Church gave us a unique opportunity: we as young people got say what we think about many current issues loud and clear. As the Pope says, we have to talk without a filter. We are living a historical moment.

The Pope often invites young people to be protagonists of their lives, of history and of the Church. How do you interpret this invitation and what does it mean in the concrete life of a young person?

I think the Pope wants young people to be protagonists because we are the future of the Church. Many times, we can think that we can take the future’s temperature simply by the number of vocations to the priesthood or consecrated life; but young people are another thermometer. It’s something I’m seeing in this meeting. This invitation from the Holy Father is already a gesture that the Church wants to listen to us and take us into account from now on.

Pope Francis greets Fr. Michael Ryan, LC, Rector of the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae in Rome

In the preparatory document for the Synod, the Pope said that the Church has decided to question us on how to accompany young people so that each young person recognizes and welcomes the call to love and life in fullness. He also asks help in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today. The document emphasizes, “As in the days of Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-21) and Jeremiah (cf. Jer 1:4-10), young people know how to discern the signs of our times, indicated by the Spirit. Listening to their aspirations, the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow.” (Introduction) It is the path that the Church is inviting us to go through in this historical moment.

What has been the experience of arriving at the pre-synod meeting and meeting with young people from the five continents who have the same Christian ideals and those who are not Christians?

Honestly, it is the first time (except WYD) that I am able to talk with young people from all over the world about issues that concern us. Not all the young people who attended the pre-synod meeting are Catholics. There are young people from other Christian, Jewish or even atheist groups. One perceives that, in short, we all have similar problems, similar aspirations, similar questions and the same challenges. This has helped me a lot to feel accompanied and to take strength to continue growing in my spiritual life.

The pre-synod meeting began with a meeting with Pope Francis. How would you summarize that experience? What words resonated in your heart? What gestures were more meaningful to you and to the young people who were close to you?

It is the first time that I am in a meeting like this with the Pope. First, the humanity radiated by the Holy Father is impressive. The look and the words with which he addressed to young people were incredible. This Pope vibrates with young people.

I am left with an idea of ​​the Pope: we have to be young prophets. I think it’s a challenge for us. While it is difficult to be apostles in the century in which we live, the Pope asks us more: to be prophets. This is only achieved by having an intimate relationship with God to grant us that grace. It’s a gift.

Javier, you are from Barcelona. How do you see the young European Christian of today? Can one be a Christian today and live the faith in this world that increasingly seems to move away from Christ and the Gospel?

The young European Christian is a bit desolate. I think that, in general, we feel a little lonely, but meetings like these give us strength and reasons to continue evangelizing. Today the young European must be seen as a key player in the future of Europe. It is up to us, now more than ever, to maintain the Christian roots of the continent. We must see the urgency of evangelization and apostolate, and even more so with young people. We have to reach all hearts through the testimony of our encounter with Christ.

In order for young people to feel the call to proclaim the Gospel, we must first have had a deep and personal encounter with Christ that impels us to want to transmit his message of love and mercy. We must feel that something depends on us that our neighbor meets Christ and that personal and social changes arise from this deep encounter.

Personally, I experienced this encounter with Christ and the need to bring Christ to others during my first Holy Week missions in 2014. There, in personal contact with so many people in need of God, I could experience the urgency of evangelization and I could feel, for the first time, like an apostle walking beside Christ. This testimony of encounter with Christ must be shared with the other young people as a result of the presence of God in our life and as an option of life.

During the pre-Synod meetings, Brothers Melchior Poisson, Javier Ayala, Alejandro de la Garza, Wolfgang Dichgans and Gabriel Wendt, LC, collaborated as part of the social media team who were attending over 15,000 young people from the whole world that signed up to participate in the encounter.

What do you think are the challenges that the Church has right now to transmit its message to young people?

The Church faces historical challenges. One of them is being close to the youth. The Church must trust the young layperson. Young people want to be protagonists, and we have the opportunity to show that you can count on us. On the other hand, the Church must break with the prejudices that young people have about her. If the message of Jesus is current and doesn’t go out of style, the Church must be up to the task of transmitting that message in the same way that Jesus did: simply, humanly, directly and joyfully.

What has been the common point of the reflections of these days?

An important theme has been the accompaniment of young people and another of the community. The Pope already said that the best way to evangelize a young person is another young person. Well, I think we have a very big responsibility. We have to accompany each other on our journey of spiritual and human life. It is a challenge for the one accompanying because it requires continuous formation, a life of intense prayer and grace to give good witness. We might say that the relationship forms a feedback loop and the one accompanying ends up receiving much more than he gives. At the same time, the young person needs a community to feel accompanied and supported at all times. It is in the community where you will find Christ in your brother.

As a member of the Regnum Christi Movement, how have you seen the accompaniment of young people in vocational discernment? Do you think it is something that should be renewed and go more in depth? What does a young man expect from someone who helps him in this process of discernment?

I think that a young person’s vocational discernment and journey of encounter with Christ is vital. We here have agreed in seeing adolescence as the stage of the young person’s search, and seeing the importance of good accompaniment in this period.

I think that laity should return the proper meaning to the concept of vocation: the search for personal happiness. Young lay people who discover their vocation to marriage must also speak of vocation and give testimony of discernment and happiness. In this sense, I am very struck by the words of the Pope in the preparatory document: “For each person, the vocation to love takes concrete form in everyday life through a series of choices, which find expression in the states of life (marriage, ordained ministry, consecrated life, etc.), professions, forms of social and civil commitment, lifestyle, the management of time and money, etc. Whether these choices are willfully made or simply accepted, either consciously or unconsciously, no one is excluded from making these choices. The purpose of vocational discernment is to find out how to transform them, in the light of faith, into steps towards the fullness of joy to which everyone is called.” (Introduction)

On the other hand, I think that young people look for a person who accompanies us, not that they decide for us. The one accompanying needs to awaken in the young person those questions with which that person personally meets Christ.

What do you think Regnum Christi is called to be in view of the approach of young people to the encounter with Christ?

The Movement is called to be a place where young people meet Christ through the team and apostolate: a place where we are accompanied until we reach our personal and spiritual fullness with God. In addition, I think that team leaders have the opportunity, even the responsibility, to accompany each member of their team in this search for Christ. This accompaniment should include spiritual direction that the young person receives from a priest or consecrated member.

What do you think Regnum Christi is called to be in view of the approach of young people to the encounter with Christ?

The Movement is called to be a place where young people meet Christ through the team and the apostolate, and where they accompany us until we reach our personal and spiritual fullness with God. In addition, I think that team leaders have the opportunity, even the responsibility, to accompany each member of their team in this search for Christ. This accompaniment has to be complemented with the spiritual direction that the young man receives from a priest or consecrated person.

Do you have anything else that you would like to share about what happened during this week?

I would like to emphasize the importance of this moment we are living in, and raise awareness among young people throughout the world and Regnum Christi of the importance of praying for all young people, priests, consecrated, religious, bishops and the Pope. May the Holy Spirit enlighten all who will be present at the October Synod.

I invite all young people to read the document that will come out, to get involved in it and to put into practice in reality what the Church wants for its future.

Related: Pope wants to hear from Youth Around the World