As the month of June draws near, pray for young people that the good Lord will bless them with strength, happiness and peace.


Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist.

This column appeared on 12 May 009

As the month of June draws near, once again for Thousands of Secondary school students, it is time to sit the junior and Leaving Certificate. The Leaving Certificate is an important milestone in the lives of our young people, the vast majority sit this state exam, which in many ways itself is a right of passage into a more adult and responsible life for our young friends.This is a time of great uncertainty. A time when great burdens are felt and carried by many family members, neighbours and friends, as we all struggle to make sense of the reality we find ourselves. A time when our spirituality, can afford young people with a confidence that will inspire hope.

St Paul once said ‘With God on our side who can be against us” essentially being open to the love of God in all our lives is surely a great gift. The life that this young generation now enter more fully is a vibrant one, full of energy and yet very challenging. I don’t think it is easy to be a young person in the present culture we find ourselves in. All of these young students will now experience the competitive environment that is the point’s race, finding the right college course and career path in an uncertain global economy where so often only the fittest and leanest survive. There is little room for failure in our culture, we have become hard on each other, and this young generation may well have all ready been hard on themselves, in terms of bullying, peer pressure, prejudice and inclusion. The “Burden of youth” at times can be tragic, manifesting in addiction, anxiety and mental health issues. It is in the words of Charles Dickens “The best of times and the worst of times,” for the class of 2009

It makes sense to me now, why this group of young people, find themselves engaging in school liturgies and lighting candles in their local Church. I believe faith in the living God is a great source of strength and love for our young friends. Yes, there will always be difficulty and disappointment in life, but faith gives us a confidence and inner peace, that allows us all to live life to the full. God invites us to manifest our hopes and dreams into the realties of our day to day lives. Faith is grounded, in the knowledge that our God abundantly loves us for who we are, not for who we may like to present ourselves as. Faith allows us to hope even in the face of adversity and human struggle.

Essentially faith informs us that we are not alone. Our God resides in depth of our human experience, even in the stress of getting ready for the Leaving Certificate. Over the coming weeks pray for young people that the good Lord will bless them with strength, happiness and peace. A prayer I always prayed as I faced exam time and never let me down was,

“Holy Spirit, send your power, help me to remember all that I have learnt, inspire me with the gift of Knowledge, Amen.”.