Urges Them to Be Envoys of God's Love
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging young people to pray and live the sacraments, so as to be witnesses of hope and joy in a world that counts on them.
The Pope affirmed this in a message published today for the 24th World Youth Day, which will take place April 5, Palm Sunday, on a diocesan level. The event theme is: "We Have Set Our Hope on the Living God."
He told the young people that "we are journeying towards the international gathering due to take place in Madrid in 2011," reminding them that this youth day is one in a series of three, for which we are on "a path of preparation together."
Recalling the 2008 youth gathering in Sydney, the Pontiff reminded the young people, "I urged you to let yourselves be shaped by [the Holy Spirit] in order to be messengers of divine love, capable of building a future of hope for all humanity."
He added: "Youth is a special time of hope because it looks to the future with a whole range of expectations. When we are young we cherish ideals, dreams and plans. Youth is the time when decisive choices concerning the rest of our lives come to fruition."
We ask ourselves, he noted, "Where can I obtain and how can I keep alive the flame of hope burning in my heart?"
The Holy Father observed, "Experience shows that personal qualities and material goods are not enough to guarantee the hope which the human spirit is constantly seeking."
This great hope, he affirmed, "can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain."
Benedict XVI told the youth: "My dear young friends, I have in mind so many of your contemporaries who have been wounded by life. They often suffer from personal immaturity caused by dysfunctional family situations, by permissive and libertarian elements in their education, and by difficult and traumatic experience."
He added: "Yet, even for those who find themselves in difficult situations, having been led astray by bad role models, the desire for true love and authentic happiness is not extinguished.
"But how can we speak of this hope to those young people? We know that it is in God alone that a human person finds true fulfillment.
"The main task for us all is that of a new evangelization aimed at helping younger generations to rediscover the true face of God, who is Love."
Paul the Apostle
Referring to St. Paul's example of virtue, the Pope said that "hope is not simply an ideal or sentiment, but a living person: Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
He continued, "If we are not alone, if he is with us, even more, if he is our present and our future, why be afraid? [...]
"Just as he once encountered the young Paul, Jesus also wants to encounter each one of you, my dear young people. Indeed, even before we desire it, such an encounter is ardently desired by Jesus Christ.
"But perhaps some of you might ask me: How can I meet him today? Or rather, in what way does he approach me?"
The answer, said the Pontiff, is in prayer. He said, "When we express our faith in prayer, we find him even in times of darkness because he offers himself to us."
He exhorted the youth, "Make space for prayer in your lives!"
The Holy Father pointed out: "There are experiences, groups and movements, encounters and courses in which to learn to pray and thus grow in the experience of faith.
"Take part in your parish liturgies and be abundantly nourished by the Word of God and your active participation in the sacraments."
He said, "If you find your sustenance in Christ, my dear young people, and if you live profoundly in him as did the Apostle Paul, you will not be able to resist speaking about him and making him known and loved by many of your friends and contemporaries."
Benedict XVI emphasized: "The Church depends on you for this demanding mission. Do not be discouraged by the difficulties and trials you encounter.
"Be patient and persevering so as to overcome the natural youthful tendency to rush ahead and to want everything immediately."
He added, "Following in the footsteps of the people of hope -- composed of prophets and saints of every age -- we continue to advance toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom, and on this spiritual path we are accompanied by the Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope."