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Desiring a deeper love of Christ and neighbour

My Dear Young Friends. St John Paul Speaks to Teens on Life, Love and Courage. John Vitek, Editor. St Maryís Press, Christian Brothers Publications. 2014.

Reviewed by Barbara Flynn

My Dear Young FriendsTHIS small book offers 52 messages delivered in different times and circumstances by St John Paul II during his pontificate to youth at both pre-World Youth Day gatherings and Youth Day gatherings.

The messages are didactic and devotional in intent.

They express the sincere hope which St John Paul invests in young people to be shaped and formed into disciples of Jesus who are actively involved in the mission of the Church.

The words of St Pope John Paul reveal a pastoral heart knowledgeable about the life-world of today’s young people.

The 52 quotations, one for each week of the year, celebrate his palpable affection for youth.

They affirm the goodness of youth while providing direction in the formation of Christian values where principles of responsible decision making are guideposts.

He urges today’s youth to be faithful and courageous witnesses to the Risen Christ and so grow daily in relationship with Jesus through spontaneous prayer conversations about issues in their lives.

Such habitual prayer is to be underpinned with times of quiet with active listening to whisperings of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

John M. Vitek, editor and author of the content of this very useful book, has accessed opinions of young people across the United States in selecting the quotations that he uses.

Vitek, who has a long history of parish pastoral work, explains the steps for adult learning and reflection.

He suggests that the message by St John Paul for each week be read daily. The person then prayerfully reflects on the meaning of the message in regard to experiences in their life.

Next they are required to act.

Here they make a conscious effort to shape their attitudes, values, behaviours and habits by applying the inherent meanings within the saint’s message.

Prayer from the heart follows either using the model given or one’s own words.

I contend that the messages spoken by St Pope John Paul in this collection can be applied to faith formation for persons of any age through transformations in their personal life when they sincerely desire a deeper love of Christ and neighbour. Recommended reading for all.

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