By: Rene H. Martel
Around the world today, the observance of Easter is drastically altered due to the pandemic caused by the Corona Virus Disease (Covid)-19. Social or physical distancing, community quarantines, and other measures are being instituted to combat this worldwide menace to prevent more deaths.
What if Covid-19 did not happen? For sure, there would be the Easter egg hunting, giving away of Easter bunnies, and a day in the beach for many youngsters because of the “long weekend”. We can’t blame them, because after a week of not watching their favorite TV shows and not being allowed to do gimmicks, they surely would want a “break”.
These activities are surely entirely different from how the “old folks” observe Jesus’ triumph over death. Sure, many still wake up at 3 a.m. or so to witness the “Sugat”, or the reenactment of the “meeting” of the Virgin Mary with the risen Jesus. For Filipinos, this is followed by a eucharistic celebration and the churchgoers going home bringing peace and some rice cakes to share with the entire family. But if you examine the percentage of the population, the young people in attendance always appear to be few.
In one Filipino town years back, many of the youth were actually not far, but they were in a disco at a nearby sports complex that started hours before the “Sugat” and most were drunk. The disco was supposedly held to “celebrate” Easter. Parishioners (many of whom were “old” people) actually raged against the activity, considering it a sacrilege, as there were those, particularly the inebriated, who displayed vulgar acts when supposedly the whole Christendom was celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
In defense of the new generation, though, not all young people opt for the thrill and fun activities irrelevant of Easter. There are still those who hold Jesus’ having risen from the dead as significant to their lives. It is, therefore, illogical and not fitting to lump the youth of today as rowdy and a headache—an unfair generalization that they resent.
Indeed, there is this biased idea that the younger generations are a pain in the neck to the older generation and that they are even a threat to the customs, culture, and tradition of the state and the Church since they do not subscribe to them. This is a failure to understand that today’s youth live in an entirely new world, where everything is fast-paced and they are facing different challenges. Because in today’s digital world, influences, many of them negative, distract today’s youth, so that what they need is endless patience and understanding, not mockery and condemnation.
So let us call today’s youth to embrace a new life, but one that is not weaned away from the world they live in but in a world where they keep their technology and way of living but still centered in Christ. Because for all the rigidness of discipline and order, we can still pursue efficiency in making them as part of God’s flock by appreciating the youth the way they are today. Because while, indeed, there are those who prefer the life of indulgence, as many adults do, let us acknowledge that many also struggle against their contemporary culture. There are still young warriors who seek Christ amidst their imperfect and corrupted world, and they need the adults’ help. There is still much to hope for in today’s youth, in the same manner that there is still hope for many of today’s adults.
That is why, to echo what Pope Francis called the Church to do, let us walk beside the youth and that we should be willing to do more than just listen to them. Because in accompanying them in their journey, we would see and understand their reason for shying away, and would therefore know how to lead those who go astray back to the Church and its teachings. In the words of Pope Francis, let us “love one another, learn to listen, to understand, to forgive, to accept and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded or ostracized.” (Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.)