Is there a difference between the "openness" Pope John Paul II urges us to have and having an "open mind"? I believe there is. The Holy Father encourages us to have respect for the uniqueness and dignity of all people based on their being created in the "image and likeness of God". He asks us to respect all religions and every person's right to freely choose his or her religion - even to choose no religion at all.
An "open mind" - how are we to use it? Does not G.K. Chesterton hit the nail on the head when he says: "The object of an open mind, as of an open mouth, is to shut it tight on something solid".
Is not our "something solid" the rock of Peter? Do we not believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church in truth? Are not the Church's teachings, including those on marriage and sexuality, good and true and solid? Do they not set us free to love God and our neighbour? If so, then do we confidently propose them to our young people?
The Holy Father urges young people to remain chaste before marriage. He encourages married couples to preserve the unitive and procreative aspect of the sexual.
He warns young people that if they take the path of chastity, they may become martyrs for Christ for the "world" will laugh at them, ridicule them, isolate them or ignore them. The new martyrdom, he says, will be bloodless but no less painful. He says not to be afraid because they can draw strength to overcome the "world" for Christ.
We are aware that many young people choose to cohabit before they marry. Is it good enough for us to relativise and suggest that because so many do this then, for some reason, it is good, true and solid?
If our young people are cohabiting before marriage, could it be because the "voice" of the "world" is louder than the voice of Christ and they cannot hear him? Have we, unwittingly perhaps, prevented our young people from "encountering" Christ just as the crowd prevented the blind Bartimaeus from approaching him?
I believe that our young people today, as always and in every time and place, need just "a little help from a friend". This person is Christ. If we are to lead our young people to Christ, we ourselves need to know where he "lives".