Speeches 2005-13 20081
I am pleased to welcome you to the Apostolic Nunciature, and to thank you warmly for all that you have done for the organization of this World Youth Day.
I know very well that, from the moment that it was made public that the Archdiocese of Madrid had been chosen as the centre for this initiative, His Eminence Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela launched the work of the Local Organizing Committee in which all those responsible for the different areas involved in an undertaking of this size worked together, coordinated by Bishop César Augusto Franco Martínez, with a deep sense of ecclesial belonging and an extraordinary affection for the Vicar of Christ. Only love for the Church and zeal to evangelize young people can explain this generous commitment of time and energy, which will bear much apostolic fruit. Over the months you have offered your best to the service of the Church’s mission. May God reward you for it a hundredfold, and not just you but your families and your institutions which with self-sacrifice have supported your dedication and care. Since Jesus tells us that not even a cup of water given in his name will go without reward, how much more will be rewarded the daily and unceasing contribution to the organization of a church event of such importance as the one we are now celebrating! Thank you to each one of you.
Similarly, I wish to offer my thanks to the members of the Mixed Commission formed by the Archdiocese of Madrid and the national Government offices, the Community of Madrid and the City Hall which, since the beginning of this World Youth Day, was set up with its gaze fixed upon the hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims coming to Madrid, a city open, beautiful and welcoming. Certainly, without this diligent cooperation, it would not have been possible to realize an event of such complexity and importance. In this regard, I know that many groups placed themselves at the disposal of the Local Organizing Committee, sparing no effort and in an atmosphere of friendly cooperation, which is a credit to this noble nation and to the well-known spirit of hospitality of the Spanish people.
The effectiveness of the Commission shows that cooperation between the Church and local authorities is possible, and not only when they work together on an initiative of such great significance, like the present one, proving the principle that good things bring us together. For this reason, I would like to express to the representatives of the various institutions that have worked boldly for the success of this World Day, my warm and heartfelt thanks in the name of the Church and of the young people who are now enjoying your welcome and diligence.
Upon all of you, as well as upon your families and institutions, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings. Thank you very much.
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Priests and Religious of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God,
Dear Young People, Family Members and Volunteers,
I thank you most sincerely for your kind greeting and heartfelt welcome.
This evening, just before the Prayer Vigil with the young people from throughout the world gathered in Madrid for this World Youth Day, we have this chance to spend time together as a way of showing the Pope’s closeness and esteem for each of you, for your families and for all those who help and care for you in this Foundation of Saint Joseph’s Institute.
Youth, as I have said more than once, is the age when life discloses itself to us with all its rich possibilities, inspiring us to seek the lofty goals which give it meaning. So when suffering appears on the horizon of a young life, we are shaken; perhaps we ask ourselves: “Can life still be something grand, even when suffering unexpectedly enters it?” In my Encyclical on Christian Hope, I observed that “the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer … A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion’ is a cruel and inhuman society” (Spe Salvi ). These words reflect a long tradition of humanity which arises from Christ’s own self-offering on the Cross for us and for our redemption. Jesus and, in his footsteps, his Sorrowful Mother and the saints, are witnesses who shows us how to experience the tragedy of suffering for our own good and for the salvation of the world.
These witnesses speak to us, first and foremost, of the dignity of all human life, created in the image of God. No suffering can efface this divine image imprinted in the depths of our humanity. But there is more: because the Son of God wanted freely to embrace suffering and death, we are also capable of seeing God’s image in the face of those who suffer. This preferential love of the Lord for the suffering helps us to see others more clearly and to give them, above and beyond their material demands, the look of love which they need. But this can only happen as the fruit of a personal encounter with Christ. You yourselves – as religious, family members, health care professionals and volunteers who daily live and work with these young people – know this well. Your lives and your committed service proclaim the greatness to which every human being is called: to show compassion and loving concern to the suffering, just as God himself did. In your noble work we hear an echo of the words found in the Gospel: “just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25,40).
At the same time, you are also witnesses of the immense goodness which the lives of these young people represent for those who love them, and for humanity as a whole. In a mysterious yet real way, their presence awakens in our often hardened hearts a tenderness which opens us to salvation. The lives of these young people surely touch human hearts and for that reason we are grateful to the Lord for having known them.
Dear friends, our society, which all too often questions the inestimable value of life, of every life, needs you: in a decisive way you help to build the civilization of love. What is more, you play a leading role in that civilization. As sons and daughters of the Church, you offer the Lord your lives, with all their ups and downs, cooperating with him and somehow becoming “part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race” (Spe Salvi ).
With great affection, and through the intercession of Saint Joseph, Saint John of God and Saint Benito Menni, I commend you to God our Lord: may he be your strength and your reward. As a pledge of his love, I cordially impart to you, and to your families and friends, my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you very much.
Dear Young Friends,
I greet all of you, especially the young people who have asked me their questions, and I thank them for the sincerity with which they set forth their concerns, that express the longing which all of you have to achieve something great in life, something which can bring you fulfilment and happiness.
How can a young person be true to the faith and yet continue to aspire to high ideals in today’s society? In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus gives us an answer to this urgent question: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15,9).
Yes, dear friends, God loves us. This is the great truth of our life; it is what makes everything else meaningful. We are not the product of blind chance or absurdity; instead our life originates as part of a loving plan of God. To abide in his love, then, means living a life rooted in faith, since faith is more than the mere acceptance of certain abstract truths: it is an intimate relationship with Christ, who enables us to open our hearts to this mystery of love and to live as men and women conscious of being loved by God.
If you abide in the love of Christ, rooted in the faith, you will encounter, even amid setbacks and suffering, the source of true happiness and joy. Faith does not run counter to your highest ideals; on the contrary, it elevates and perfects those ideals. Dear young people, do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.
Nowadays, although the dominant culture of relativism all around us has given up on the search for truth, even if it is the highest aspiration of the human spirit, we need to speak with courage and humility of the universal significance of Christ as the Saviour of humanity and the source of hope for our lives. He who took upon himself our afflictions, is well acquainted with the mystery of human suffering and manifests his loving presence in those who suffer. They in their turn, united to the passion of Christ, share closely in his work of redemption. Furthermore, our disinterested attention towards the sick and the forgotten will always be a humble and warm testimony of God’s compassionate regard.
Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world.
During this prayer vigil, I urge you to ask God to help you find your vocation in society and in the Church, and to persevere in that vocation with joy and fidelity. It is a good thing to open our hearts to Christ’s call and to follow with courage and generosity the path he maps out for us.
The Lord calls many people to marriage, in which a man and a woman, in becoming one flesh (cf. Gen Gn 2,24), find fulfilment in a profound life of communion. It is a prospect that is both bright and demanding. It is a project for true love which is daily renewed and deepened by sharing joys and sorrows, one marked by complete self-giving. For this reason, to acknowledge the beauty and goodness of marriage is to realize that only a setting of fidelity and indissolubility, along with openness to God’s gift of life, is adequate to the grandeur and dignity of marital love.
Christ calls others to follow him more closely in the priesthood or in consecrated life. It is hard to put into words the happiness you feel when you know that Jesus seeks you, trusts in you, and with his unmistakable voice also says to you: “Follow me!” (cf. Mc 2,14).
Dear young people, if you wish to discover and to live faithfully the form of life to which the Lord is calling each of you, you must remain in his love as his friends. And how do we preserve friendship except through frequent contact, conversation, being together in good times and bad? Saint Teresa of Jesus used to say that prayer is just such “friendly contact, often spending time alone with the one who we know loves us” (cf. Autobiography, 8).
And so I now ask you to “abide” in the adoration of Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. I ask you to enter into conversation with him, to bring before him your questions and to listen to his voice. Dear friends, I pray for you with all my heart. And I ask you to pray for me. Tonight let us ask the Lord to grant that, attracted by the beauty of his love, we may always live faithfully as his disciples. Amen.
Dear Friends: I thank you for your joy and your resistance. Your strength is greater than the rain. Thank you. With rain the Lord has sent us many blessings. In this also, you are an example.
[French] Dear young French-speakers, be proud of the gift of faith which you have received, as it will illumine your life at every moment. Draw strength from the faith of your neighbours, from the faith of the Church! Through faith we are grounded in Christ. Gather with others to deepen it, be faithful to the celebration of the Eucharist, the mystery of faith par excellence. Christ alone can respond to your aspirations. Let yourselves be seized by God, so that your presence in the Church will give her new life!
[English] Dear young people, in these moments of silence before the Blessed Sacrament, let us raise our minds and hearts to Jesus Christ, the Lord of our lives and of the future. May he pour out his Spirit upon us and upon the whole Church, that we may be a beacon of freedom, reconciliation and peace for the whole world.
[German] Dear young Christians from the German-speaking countries! Deep in our hearts we yearn for what is grand and beautiful in life. Do not let your desires and aspirations dissipate, but ground them in Jesus Christ. He himself is the sure foundation, the point of reference, for building up your life.
[Italian] I now turn to the Italian-speaking young people. Dear friends, this vigil will remain as an unforgettable experience in your lives. Guard the flame which God has lit in your hearts tonight. Never let it go out, renew it each day, share it with your contemporaries who live in darkness and who are seeking a light for their way. Thank you! Until tomorrow morning!
[Portuguese] My dear friends, I invite each of you to enter into a personal dialogue with Christ, sharing with him your hesitations and above all listening to his voice. The Lord is here and he is calling you! Young friends, it is good to hear within us the word of Jesus and to follow in his footsteps. Ask the Lord to help you to discover your vocation in life and in the Church, and to persevere in it with joy and fidelity, knowing that he never abandons you or betrays you! He remains with us until the end of the world.
[Polish] Dear young friends from Poland! This prayer vigil is filled with the presence of Christ. Grounded in his love, draw near to him with the flame of your faith. He will fill your hearts with his life. Build your lives on Christ and on his Gospel. I willingly bless all of you.
* * *
Dear Young Friends,
We have lived together an adventure. Strengthened by your faith in Christ, you have resisted the rain. Before leaving I wish you all good night. Have a good rest. I thank you for the sacrifice that you are making and I have no doubt that you will offer it generously to the Lord. We shall see one another tomorrow, God willing, in the celebration of the Eucharist. I am expecting all of you. I thank you for the fine example that you have given. As happened tonight, you can always, with Christ, endure the trials of life. Do not forget this. I thank you all.
As the events of this unforgettable World Youth Day draw to a close, I wanted to come here, before my return to Rome, to thank you personally for all your invaluable help. It is both a matter of justice and a heartfelt duty. A matter of justice because, thanks to your cooperation, the young pilgrims enjoyed a warm welcome and were assisted in their every need. Your service gave World Youth Day a face of kindness, friendship and neighbourly concern.
My gratitude is also a heartfelt duty, not only because you were so attentive to the pilgrims, but also to the Pope, to me! At every event in which I took part, you were there: some were highly visible, while others stayed in the background, helping to ensure that everything took place in an orderly fashion. I also want to mention all the effort that went into preparing for these days. All the sacrifices, all the love. Everybody did his or her best, by work and prayer, to weave, stitch by stitch, the magnificent, colourful tapestry of this World Youth Day. Many thanks for your dedicated service. I am grateful for this great sign of your love.
Many of you had to give up participating directly in the events, because you were engaged in the work of organization. But this sacrifice was itself a beautiful and evangelical way to take part in the celebrations: you gave yourselves to others, as Jesus tells us to do. In a real way sense you brought to life the Lord’s words: “Whoever wants to be first must be the last of all and servant of all” (Mc 9,35). I am certain that your experience as volunteers has enriched all of you in your Christian life, which in the end is a service to love. The Lord will turn all the weariness, the worries and the burdens of these days into a source of growth in the Christian virtues: patience, meekness, joy in self-giving and eagerness to do God’s will. To love means to serve, and service increases love. For me, this is one of the finest fruits of your contribution to World Youth Day. But you will not be the only ones who reap this harvest: the whole Church, as a mystery of communion, is enriched by the contribution of each of her members.
As you now go back to your everyday lives, I ask you to treasure this joy-filled experience in your hearts and to grow each day in giving yourselves to God and to others. Perhaps many of you felt a very simple question forming in your hearts, faintly or forcefully as the case may be: What is God asking me to do? What is his plan for my life? Is Christ asking me to follow him more closely? Should I not spend my whole life in the mission to proclaim to the world the greatness of his love through the priesthood, or the consecrated life, or marriage? If this question has surfaced, let the Lord be your guide and become volunteers in the service of the One who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mc 10,45). Your life will achieve fulfilment in ways you cannot imagine. Perhaps some of you are thinking: the Pope came to thank us and here he is asking us for something more! You are right. But that is the mission of the Pope, the Successor of Peter. After all, Peter, in his First Letter, reminds Christians that they were ransomed at a great price: that of the blood of Christ (cf. 1P 1,18-19). Those who look at their lives from this perspective know that Christ’s love can only be met with love. That is what the Pope is asking you to do in this farewell: to respond in love to the One who for love gave himself up for us. Once again, I thank all of you. May God be ever at your side!
Distinguished National, Autonomous Regional and Local Authorities,
Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference,
Your Eminences and Dear Brother Bishops,
The time has come for us to say good-bye. These days spent in Madrid, in the company of so many young people from Spain and from throughout the world, will remain deeply etched in my mind and heart.
Your Majesty, the Pope felt at home in Spain! And the young people who were the heart of this World Youth Day found a warm welcome here and in the many cities and towns of the country, which they were able to visit in the days before these celebrations.
I thank Your Majesty for your gracious words and for your presence at my arrival in Spain and now at my departure. I thank the national, autonomous regional and local authorities for the helpfulness and understanding which they showed before this international event. I also thank the thousands of volunteers who ensured the orderly unfolding of the many activities of this meeting: the various literary, musical, cultural and religious events of the Festival joven, the catecheses given by the Bishops and the main events in the presence of the Successor of Peter. I thank the police and security forces, and all those who helped by providing a wide variety of services: from the music and the liturgy to the details of transportation, health care and meals.
Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul. In these days, it once more made this clear, revealing its technical and human resources in the service of an undertaking of immense consequence and promise: that of helping young people to become more deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
A particular word of gratitude is due to the organizers of World Youth Day: to the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and all the personnel of that Office, to the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, his Auxiliary Bishops and the whole Archdiocese, and in particular to the General Coordinator, Monsignor César Augusto Franco Martinez, and the many generous members of his staff. The Bishops worked generously and diligently in their Dioceses to prepare for the celebrations, together with their priests, consecrated persons and the lay faithful. To all I express my gratitude and I pray that the Lord will bless your apostolic labors.
Nor can I fail to offer heartfelt thanks to the young people for having come to the World Youth Day and for their joyful, enthusiastic and intense presence. To them I say thank you, and I congratulate you for the witness which you gave in Madrid and in the other cities of Spain in which you stayed. Now I ask you to spread throughout the world the profound and joyful experience of faith which you had here in this noble country. Share your joy especially with those who would have liked to come but were unable to do so for various reasons, with all those who were praying for you and with all those whose hearts were touched by these celebrations. By your closeness and your witness, help your friends to discover that loving Christ means living life to the full.
I leave Spain very happy and grateful to everyone. But above all I am grateful to God, our Lord, who allowed me to celebrate these days so filled with enthusiasm and grace, so charged with dynamism and hope. The feast of faith which we have shared enables us to look forward with great confidence in Providence, which guides the Church across the seas of history. That is why she continues to be young and full of life, even as she confronts challenging situations. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, who makes Jesus Christ present in the hearts of young people in every age and shows them the grandeur of the divine vocation given to every man and woman. We were also able to see how the grace of Christ tears down the walls and overcomes the barriers which sin erects between peoples and generations, in order to make all mankind a single family which acknowledges its one Father and which cultivates, by work and respect, all that he has given us in creation.
Young people readily respond when one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of humanity. Now those young people are returning home as missionaries of the Gospel, “rooted and built up in Christ, and firm in the faith”, and they will need to be helped on their way. So I urge Bishops, priests, Religious and Christian educators in particular, to care for those young people who want to respond enthusiastically to the Lord’s call. There is no reason to lose heart in the face of the various obstacles we encounter in some countries. The yearning for God which the Creator has placed in the hearts of young people is more powerful than all of these, as is the power from on high which gives divine strength to those who follow the Master and who seek in him nourishment for life. Do not be afraid to present to young people the message of Jesus Christ in all its integrity, and to invite them to celebrate the sacraments by which he gives us a share in his own life.
Your Majesty, before returning to Rome, I would like to assure the people of Spain of my constant prayers, especially for married couples and families who are facing various kinds of difficulties, the needy and the infirm, the elderly and children, as well as those who have no work. I pray in particular of the young people of Spain. I am sure that they will contribute the best they have to offer through their faith in Christ, so that this great country can face the challenges of the present hour and can continue along the paths of peace, solidarity, justice and freedom. Along with these intentions, I entrust the sons and daughters of this noble land to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our heavenly Mother, and to them all I willingly impart my blessing. May the joy of the Lord always fill your hearts. Thank you.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today let us respond to the First Reading from the Prophet Jeremiah with Ps 62: my soul is thirsting for you, for the living God; like the earth, it is parched, lifeless and without water. My soul is thirsting for you, the living God.
In this time of God’s absence when the earth of souls is arid and people do not yet know where the living water comes from, let us ask the Lord to show himself to us. Let us ask him to show those who are seeking the living water elsewhere, that this water is he himself and that he does not let the life of human beings, their thirst for what is great, for fullness, be denied or suffocated by the ephemeral.
Let us ask him, especially for young people, that the thirst for him may come to life within in them and that they may know where to seek the response.
And let us, who have been acquainted with him since the days of our youth, ask forgiveness because we bring so little of the light of his face to others, and emanate so feebly the certainty that “he is, he is present and he is the great and complete reality that we are all awaiting”. Let us ask him to forgive us, to renew us with the living water of his Spirit and to grant that we may celebrate worthily the sacred Mysteries.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
This evening we are immersed in sacred music, that music which in a quite special way is born from faith and can express and communicate faith. Thanks, therefore, are due to the splendid performers: to the two sopranos, the baritone, to Maestro Baiocchi, the Rossini Chamber Choir from Pesaro and the Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana, as well as the organizers and authorities who made this event possible.
In the midst of our daily routine, you have given us a moment of meditation and prayer, enabling us to intuit the harmonies of Heaven. An affectionate and special “thank you” to the composer of the passages we have just heard, Maestro Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci. Thank you, Your Eminence, for giving me this concert and for composing for the occasion the Benedictus, dedicated to me as a prayer and as thanksgiving to the Lord for my ministry.
Maestro Cardinal Bartolucci needs no introduction. I would only like to mention three aspects of his life — in addition to his proud Florentine spirit — which clearly mark it: faith, the priesthood and music.
Dear Cardinal Bartolucci, faith is the light which has always orientated and guided your life and has opened your heart to respond generously to the Lord’s call; and it is from this faith that your style of composition stems.
Of course, you had a sound musical training which you received at the Cathedral of Florence, at the Conservatoire in Florence and at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music with great teachers, including Vito Frazzi, Raffaele Casimiri, and Ildebrando Pizzetti.
For you, however, music is a privileged language for communicating the Church's faith and for helping those who listen to your works on their journey of faith; through music too, you have exercised your priestly ministry. Your style follows in the wake of the great composers of sacred music, in particular for the Sistine Chapel which you directed for many years, by enhancing the precious treasure of Gregorian Chant and your wise use of polyphony, faithful to tradition but also open to new sounds.
Dear Maestro, this evening, with your music, you have made our thoughts turn to Mary with the prayer dearest to Christian tradition, but you have also taken us back to the beginning of our faith journey, to the liturgy of Baptism, to the moment when we became Christian: an invitation to quench our thirst ceaselessly with the only water that can assuage thirst, the living God, and to commit ourselves every day to rejecting evil and to renewing our faith by reasserting: “I believe”!
“Christus circumdedit me”, Christ has enveloped me and envelops me: this motet sums up your life, your ministry and your music, dear Cardinal. I therefore renew my thanks to you, to the two sopranos, to the baritone, to the conductor and to the choral and orchestral complexes, and I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you.
Dear Brother Bishops,
I offer you a warm fraternal welcome on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum, a further occasion to deepen the communion that exists between the Church in India and the See of Peter, and an opportunity to rejoice in the universality of the Church. I wish to thank Cardinal Oswald Gracias for his kind words offered on your behalf and in the name of those entrusted to your pastoral care. My cordial greetings also go to the priests, the men and women Religious, and laity whom you shepherd. Please assure them of my prayers and solicitude.
The Church in India is blessed with a multitude of institutions which are intended to be expressions of the love of God for humanity through the charity and example of the clergy, religious and lay faithful who staff them. By means of her parishes, schools and orphanages, as well as her hospitals, clinics and dispensaries, the Church makes an invaluable contribution to the well-being not only of Catholics, but of society at large. Among these institutions in your region, a special place is held by the schools which are an outstanding witness to your commitment to the education and formation of our dear young people. The efforts made by the whole Christian community to prepare the young citizens of your noble country to build a more just and prosperous society have long been a hallmark of the Church in your Dioceses and throughout India. In helping the spiritual, intellectual and moral faculties of their students to mature, Catholic schools should continue to develop a capacity for sound judgment and introduce them to the heritage bequeathed to them by former generations, thus fostering a sense of values and preparing their pupils for a happy and productive life (cf. Gravissimum Educationis GE 5). I encourage you to continue to pay close attention to the quality of instruction in the schools present in your Dioceses, to ensure that they be genuinely Catholic and therefore capable of passing on those truths and values necessary for the salvation of souls and the up-building of society.
Of course, Catholic schools are not the only means by which the Church seeks to instruct and to edify her people in intellectual and moral truth. As you know, all of the Church’s activities are meant to glorify God and fill his people with the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8,32). This saving truth, at the heart of the deposit of faith, must remain the foundation of all the Church’s endeavours, proposed to others always with respect but also without compromise. The capacity to present the truth gently but firmly is a gift to be nurtured especially among those who teach in Catholic institutes of higher education and those who are charged with the ecclesial task of educating seminarians, religious or the lay faithful, whether in theology, catechetical studies or Christian spirituality. Those who teach in the name of the Church have a particular obligation faithfully to hand on the riches of the tradition, in accordance with the Magisterium and in a way that responds to the needs of today, while students have the right to receive the fullness of the intellectual and spiritual heritage of the Church. Having received the benefits of a sound formation and dedicated to charity in truth, the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the Christian community will be better able to contribute to the growth of the Church and the advancement of Indian society. The various members of the Church will then bear witness to the love of God for all humanity as they enter into contact with the world, providing a solid Christian testimony in friendship, respect and love, and striving not to condemn the world but to offer it the gift of salvation (cf. Jn 3,17). Encourage those involved in education, whether priests, religious or laity, to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. Enable them to reach out to their neighbours that, by their word and example, they may more effectively proclaim Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14,6).
A significant role of witness to Jesus Christ is carried out in your country by men and women religious, who are the often unsung heroes of the Church’s vitality locally. Above and beyond their apostolic labours, however, religious and the lives they lead are a source of spiritual fruitfulness for the entire Christian community. As they open themselves to the grace of God, religious men and women inspire others to respond with trust, humility and joy to the invitation of the Lord to follow him.
In this regard, my Brother Bishops, I know that you are aware of the many factors which inhibit spiritual and vocational growth, particularly among young people. Yet we know that it is Jesus Christ alone who responds to our deepest longings, and who gives true meaning to our lives. Only in him can our hearts truly find rest. Continue, therefore, to speak to young people and to encourage them to consider seriously the consecrated or priestly life; speak with parents about their indispensible role in encouraging and supporting such vocations; and lead your people in prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send many more labourers into this harvest (cf. Mt 9,38).
With these thoughts, dear Brother Bishops, I renew to you my sentiments of affection and esteem. I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Assuring you of my prayers for you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.
Speeches 2005-13 20081