Today’s world is radically different from that of St. Iggy and so, if he were to speak with the youth of today he’d have to learn their language. As a 30-year old undergoing a major midlife crisis, he decided he wanted to become a priest, which meant being the odd man out in a classroom of 10-year olds trying to learn Latin, which was the language of the Church and of the educated at that time. And so, if he were with us today, it would not be surprising to see him building up his own social media presence, creating his own content to attract followers, and using his reach to proclaim the Gospel. To deliver a message, St. Iggy knew one had to know how to speak.
But I think, like many, he would find online interaction, though very real and relevant, greatly impoverished. While observing strictly observing health protocols, he would endeavor to meet his online friends–at least those who showed interest–face-to-face, one-on-one, person-to person. And before he would say anything, he would probably listen. He would listen to the joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties of the person before him. He would listen without judgment or interruption, he would listen gently and with utmost concern. He would listen to and welcome the entire person–making him or her experience what it’s like to be present before our loving Father. Only after having listened would he speak.
And what would he say? Having won the trust and confidence of the person, he could say anything and he would try to say everything that would lead the young man or woman to doing what is for the greater glory of God. Surely he would not miss inviting the young person to do what he himself did: to listen. Before judging, before acting, listen. And to listen is really to discern carefully the myriad of voices the youth now are exposed to because of the wired world they are in. “Know which voice is from God, which is not. If it is from God, it will bring great peace for you and for others. Follow that voice, allow it to speak to your heart, and trust its invitation to love.”
*Rev Robbie taught at Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu from 2013-2015. He will be ordained to the priesthood on August 6, 2020 and is missioned to the Bukidnon Mission District.