Despite the many difficulties associated with evangelizing young people, today’s youths are still thirsty for spiritual sustenance, say Br Alois of Taiz.

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Brother Alois Leser, prior of the ecumenical monastic community of Taiz, France, told participants at the world Synod of Bishops on the ‘Word of God’ that the community has several concrete suggestions for helping young people rediscover God and his word.

“It is essential to welcome (young people) in an atmosphere of trust that will enable them to discover God already lives in them,” even for those who start out having very little faith, he said in his Oct. 11 address.

He said the community’s founder, Brother Roger Schutz, sought to make the way the Liturgy of the Hours is celebrated in the monastic community more accessible to young people by simplifying the service and aiding prayer in a way that helps lead people to experience “a personal encounter with God.”

Brother Alois said the goal is to help young people become involved in their local parish after having a “timely experience” at their community.

He gave the following suggestions that local churches could implement:

  • The place for prayer should be inviting and have a prayerful atmosphere.
  • During common prayer, choose a verse from the Bible that is brief and accessible; leave the more difficult passages to catechetical study outside of common prayer.
  • Let there be eight to ten minutes of silence after the reading.
  • Sing the same passage from Scripture or tradition for a few minutes with the aim of giving it a meditative character. A passage that is sung repeatedly is learned more easily by heart.
  • At the end of the evening service, but while the meditative singing continues, have priests available to hear confession or pastoral workers on hand to listen to what young people have on their minds.
  • Highlight simple symbols and icons.For example, every Friday evening a crucifix is placed on the floor. People can place their forehead on the cross and with this gesture they are expressing that “they entrust Christ with their personal burdens and the sufferings of the world,” Brother Alois said.