Since the very beginning, young people have always been the living force of the Church, the ones who bring energy to the Church and to the liturgical life in every local parish. In an atmosphere of respect for the religious values of the other members of the community, the Romanian Orthodox Church, in general, and the one in Transylvania in particular, has developed a youth ministry based on the spirit of friendship and communion. The young Orthodox people need to know that the One Who brings them together and Who always will, is, first of all, Our Lord Jesus Christ, preached in the Orthodox ethos of the Resurrection, of Light and Happiness.
Jesus Christ, Our God and Saviour, has always been surrounded by young people eager to follow Him and listen to His word. The Church has always shown that young age is the age of authentic confession of the true faith, the age which fosters a pure moral life and a special zeal in preaching the Gospel. The most beautiful adornment in a young person is, according to the Philokalia spirituality, his or her awakened mind and pure heart. By putting these values to work, young people create a dynamic force of harmony between nations, within the work of the Church. The Church thus becomes their source of sincerity, safety, trust, love, and the answer to their existential problems.
The Church teaches young people how to guide their steps in order to gain a mature understanding of life. Youth is not naïveté! That is why, Saint Paul the Apostle told Timothy: “Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in manner of living, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim 4, 12).
Orthodoxy is summoned today to revive a world troubled by a deep spiritual crisis. Together with the other Christian Orthodox nations, we must prove that Orthodoxy is open to dialogue without giving up its identity, without promoting doctrinal relativity, but by continuing its mission as the perpetual keeper of the true apostolic Tradition, which contains all answers to the problems of today’s world.
Therefore, the Orthodox Church is able to help young people from all over the world to find answers to the great questions of life. The Orthodox Church can help them lead a moral life, without using knowledge to support immorality, but the truth and the good in life. It can help young people partake in a truly human culture. That is why we extend our warmest welcome to all those 2500 young people who will attend the International Meeting of Orthodox Youth in Sibiu (ITO 2018), organized the fifth consecutive year in 2018, this time at Sibiu, in order to show the importance of unity, especially when it is promoted in the name of Jesus Christ and His Church.
†Dr. Laurențiu Streza,
Archbishop of Sibiu and Metropolitan of Transylvania