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MESSAGE FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY (2009)

 

VATICAN CITY, 4 MAR 2009 (VIS) -

"We have set our hope on the living God" is the theme of the Holy Father's Message to young people for the Twenty-fourth World Youth Day, which is due to be celebrated on 5 April, Palm Sunday. The text was published today in four languages: Italian, Spanish, English and French. Extracts from the English-language version are given below:

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"1. Youth, a time of hope"

"We are all aware of the need for hope, not just any kind of hope, but a firm and reliable hope. ... 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. Perhaps this is why it is the time of life when fundamental questions assert themselves strongly. ... These are questions that become insistent when we are faced with obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. ... We then ask ourselves: where can I obtain and how can I keep alive the flame of hope burning in my heart?

"2. In search of the great hope

"Experience shows that personal qualities and material goods are not enough to guarantee the hope which the human spirit is constantly seeking. ... Politics, science, technology, economics and all other material resources are not of themselves sufficient to provide the great hope to which we all aspire. This hope 'can only be God, Who encompasses the whole of reality and Who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain'. This is why one of the main consequences of ignoring God is the evident loss of direction that marks our societies, resulting in loneliness and violence, discontent and loss of confidence that can often lead to despair".

"The crisis of hope is more likely to affect the younger generations. In socio-cultural environments with few certainties, values or firm points of reference, they find themselves facing difficulties that seem beyond their strength. ... For some (unfortunately a significant number) the almost unavoidable way out involves an alienating escape into dangerous and violent behaviour, dependence on drugs and alcohol, and many other such traps for the unwary. ... But how can we speak of this hope to those young people? ... The main task for us all is that of a new evangelisation aimed at helping younger generations to rediscover the true face of God, Who is Love. To you young people, who are in search of a firm hope, I address the very words that St. Paul wrote to the persecuted Christians in Rome at that time: 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit'".

"3. St. Paul, witness of hope

"When Paul found himself immersed in difficulties and trials of various kinds, he wrote to his faithful disciple Timothy: 'We have set our hope on the living God'. How did this hope take root in him? In order to answer that question we must go back to his encounter with the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. At that time, Saul was a young person like you in his early twenties, a follower of the Law of Moses and determined to fight, ... and even to kill those he regarded as God's enemies. ... After that encounter, Paul's life changed radically, ... he was inwardly transformed by the Divine Love he had met in the person of Jesus Christ. ... From being a persecutor, he became a witness and a missionary. He founded Christian communities in Asia Minor and Greece, and travelled thousands of miles amid all kinds of perils, culminating in his martyrdom in Rome. All this for love of Christ.

"4. The great hope is in Christ

"For Paul, hope is not simply an ideal or sentiment, but a living person: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. ... If we are not alone, if He is with us, even more, if He is our present and our future, why be afraid?"

"5. The way towards the great hope

"Just as He once encountered the young Paul, Jesus also wants to encounter each one of you, my dear young people. ... But perhaps some of you might ask me: How can I meet Him today? Or rather, in what way does He approach me? The Church teaches us that the desire to encounter the Lord is already a fruit of His grace".

"Persevering prayer opens the heart to receive Him. ... Make space for prayer in your lives! To pray alone is good, although it is even more beautiful and fruitful to pray together, because the Lord assured us He would be present wherever two or three are gathered in His name".

"Take part in your parish liturgies and be abundantly nourished by the word of God and your active participation in the Sacraments. As you know, the summit and centre of the life and mission of every believer and every Christian community is the Eucharist".

"6. Acting in accordance with Christian hope

"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".

"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".

"If Jesus has become your hope, communicate this to others with your joy and your spiritual, apostolic and social engagement. ... Make choices that demonstrate your faith. Show that you understand the risks of idolising money, material goods, career and success, and do not allow yourselves to be attracted by these false illusions. Do not yield to the rationale of selfish interests. Cultivate love of neighbour and try to put yourselves and your human talents and professional abilities at the service of the common good and of truth, always prepared to 'make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you'. True Christians are never sad, even if they have to face trials of various kinds, because the presence of Jesus is the secret of their joy and peace.

"7. Mary, Mother of hope"

"The Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope ... who incarnated the hope of Israel, who gave the world its Saviour, and who remained at the foot of the Cross with steadfast hope, is our model and our support. Most of all, Mary intercedes for us and leads us through the darkness of our trials to the radiant dawn of an encounter with the Risen Christ".

"Mary, Star of the Sea, we ask you to guide the young people of the whole world to an encounter with your Divine Son Jesus. Be the celestial guardian of their fidelity to the Gospel and of their hope".