Perhaps as a reaction to compulsory religious education, reduced at times to a few routine and external practices, some young people today pay almost no attention to Christian piety because they consider it sentimental nonsense. What solution would you suggest for this problem?
The question carries its own answer. The meaning of true piety should be taught first by example and then by word. False piety is a sad pseudo-spiritual caricature which generally results from a lack of doctrine and from a certain psychological defect. The logical result is that it is repellent to anyone who loves authenticity and sincerity.
I am very glad to see how Christian piety takes root among young people today, as it did forty years ago:
when they see it lived sincerely in the lives of others;
when they understand that prayer is speaking with God, not anonymously, but personally, as a father with a friend, in a heart to heart conversation;
when we try to make them hear deep in their souls the words with which Jesus Christ himself invites them to a confidential encounter: vos autem dixi amicos 'I have called you friends' (John 15:15);
when a strong appeal is made to their Faith, so that they see that our Lord is 'the same yesterday and today and forever' (Heb 13:8).
It is essential for them to realise that simple and heartfelt piety also calls for the exercise of human virtues and that it cannot be reduced to a few daily or weekly pious acts. It must penetrate our entire life and give meaning to our work, rest, friendships and entertainment, to everything that we do. We are children of God all day long, even though we do set aside special moments for considering it, so that we can fill ourselves with the awareness of our divine filiation which is the essence of true piety.
I was saying that young people understand this very well. I might add that anyone who tries to live it will always feel young. A Christian who lives in union with Jesus Christ can relish, even if he is eighty, the words we pray at the foot of the altar: 'I will go unto the altar of God, of God who gives joy to my youth' (Ps 42:4).