Our Young Adults Taking Their Next Steps

Black beaded rosary wrapped around an adult's hand

At this time of year we still have in mind all our young adults who have just started work, are still looking for work, or who have started or are returning to college and university. It is a very exciting and rather anxious time for them as they wonder if their chosen job or course of study will live up to expectations; if they will successfully cope with it; if they will fit in and make friends and, for those still seeking work, there are all the anxieties and disappointments to deal with.  For those leaving home there are extra concerns – will they be homesick; will their accommodation  suit them and how they will manage all the different aspects of their daily living.

For the parents of these young people it is similarly both an exciting and anxious time for all the same reasons and more, not least the safety of their children in their new environment – especially if they are now living away from home. Mum and Dad will inevitably miss them. The family home will feel quite different. Learning to adjust to life when children have left the nest is a challenging time and parents also have to help younger family  members get used to being without their older siblings.

Equally, parents of young people still seeking employment or new educational opportunities whilst living at home are facing a difficult and emotionally challenging time. Trying to support their children’s efforts to get a start in life when opportunities may be scarce is hard.  Coping with their child’s disappointment and dwindling lack of self-esteem as time goes by and doors remain shut is a particular challenge.

Our current situation with Covid 19 makes all of these anxieties, difficulties and concerns worse.   We have all seen the effects the pandemic is having on the mental health, opportunities and circumstances of young people throughout the country.

When young people leave school and set out in life it is a time of great change and, though changes like these do bring great happiness and a sense of achievement, besides the anxieties mentioned they also bring some sadness and aspects of loss.  For so many years from the time of their birth parents have worked, consciously or otherwise, towards this moment when their child steps out and begins to become independent and start taking their place in the world.  This is what all their parental efforts have been for but the changes bring with them the realisation that certain aspects of life have now been left behind.

It’s interesting to ponder what Our Lady must have felt like when Jesus began His public ministry which took Him away from home journeying far and wide. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit she had gently encouraged Him at the wedding feast in Cana to perform His first public miracle by pointing out that the wine had run out.   Though Jesus appeared reluctant, she simply told the stewards (as she always advises us) to do as He told them. She knew He had to leave her to do His work for our salvation.

No doubt Mary knows the joys but also the worries, sadness and difficulties of parents as their children move into the wider world. In this Month of the Rosary let us all – the old and young, parents and children, married and single – turn to her to accompany us in our challenges whatever they may be and whatever our stage and state in life.

On Wednesday (October 7th ) we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, originally known as Our Lady of Victory. Though the rosary is a much favoured and widespread Catholic devotion, this feast day can herald a renewed motivation for us to pray the rosary both as individuals and as families so that it becomes our weapon, our David’s sling, against the Goliath of our worries, sadnesses, losses and disappointments and also our source of strength in which we celebrate our joys and achievements.

For those interested in the history of the feast day and why it has two names the web page

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint/feast-of-our-lady-of-the-rosary-617 can supply the details of the battle of Lepanto and the miraculous victory obtained through saying the rosary.

The web page https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2019-10-07 quotes Pope Benedict XVI describing the rosary as a:

“…contemplative and Christocentric prayer, inseparable from the meditation of Sacred Scripture…the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, in the following of Jesus, preceded by Mary.”    It suggests some interesting activities for families to do – including, for the bakers amongst us, making a cake in the shape of a ship to remind us of the battle of Lepanto!