Optimism about the young:
53. In the family, faith accompanies every age of life, beginning with childhood: children learn to trust in the love of their parents. This is why it is so important that within their families parents encourage shared expressions of faith which can help children gradually to mature in their own faith. Young people in particular, who are going through a period in their lives which is so complex, rich and important for their faith, ought to feel the constant closeness and support of their families and the Church in their journey of faith. We have all seen, during World Youth Days, the joy that young people show in their faith and their desire for an ever more solid and generous life of faith. Young people want to live life to the fullest. Encountering Christ, letting themselves be caught up in and guided by his love, enlarges the horizons of existence, gives it a firm hope which will not disappoint. Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness.
“Shared expressions of faith” seems key. How would you define that? Mom, Dad, and kids praying before meals and bedtime and occupying a pew together in church? Cultural or ethnic expressions of religion? I can think of a number of others that go untouched, even in families devoted to the faith: observing baptismal anniversaries and name-saint days, spending even a day of vacation on pilgrimage (instead of skipping Mass in an unfamiliar locale), reading the Bible at home and all sharing faith. Many places lack a religious culture in which to root young people. WYD provides that culture, but only for brief periods in faraway locations.