Speeches 2005-13 459
Basilica of Saint John Lateran Monday, 13 June 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our hearts full of gratitude to the Lord, we are meeting in this Basilica of St John Lateran for the opening of the annual Diocesan Convention. Let us give thanks to God who this evening permits us to have an experience of the first Christian community whose members “were of one heart and soul” (Ac 4,32). I thank the Cardinal Vicar for the words he has so courteously addressed to me on behalf of all. I offer each one of you my most cordial greeting, assuring you of my prayers for you yourselves and for those of you who are unable to be here to share in this important stage in the life of our Diocese, and in particular for those who are going through moments of physical or spiritual suffering.
I learned with pleasure that in this pastoral year you began to put into practice the instructions that resulted from last year’s Convention. I trust that in the future too every community, especially parish communities, will persevere, with the help offered by the Diocese, in its commitment to focus especially on the Eucharistic celebration — particularly on Sundays — by preparing pastoral workers properly and by striving to ensure that the Mystery of the Altar is lived increasingly as a source from which to draw strength for a more effective witness of charity that will renew the social fabric of our city.
The theme of this new stage in the review of your pastoral work, “The Joy of Nurturing Christian Faith in the Church of Rome — Christian Initiation”, will fit in with the process that has already been started. Indeed, for many years now our Diocese has been committed to reflecting on the transmission of faith. I remember that in this very Basilica, in an intervention during the Synod for Rome, I quoted a few words that Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote to me in a short letter: “Faith must never be presupposed but proposed”. This is just how it is. Faith is not preserved in the world by itself, it is not automatically passed on to the human heart, but must always be proclaimed. Moreover if the proclamation of faith is to be effective it must stem in turn from a heart that believes and loves, a heart that adores Christ and believes in the power of the Holy Spirit! This is what happened from the outset, as the biblical episode chosen to illuminate the pastoral verification reminds us. It is taken from chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles in which St Luke, immediately after recounting the event of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, presents the first discourse that St Peter addressed to everyone. The profession of faith placed at the end of the discourse – “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Ac 2,36) — is the happy announcement which for centuries the Church has not ceased to repeat to every human being.
When they heard this proclamation — we read in the Acts of the Apostles — all of them “were cut to the heart” (2:37). This reaction was certainly brought into being by God’s grace: they all realized that this proclamation fulfilled the promises and made each one of them merely to desire conversion and forgiveness for their sins. Peter’s words were not limited to merely announcing the events but revealed their meaning, connecting what happened to Jesus with God’s promises, with the expectations of Israel and hence with those of every man and woman. The people of Jerusalem realized that Jesus’ resurrection could illuminate human existence. And, in fact, this event gave rise to a new understanding of human dignity and of the eternal destiny of human beings, of the relationship between man and woman, of the ultimate meaning of suffering and of the commitment to building society. The response of faith is born when the person discovers, through God’s grace, that believing means finding true life, “full life”. St Hilary of Poitiers, one of the great Fathers of the Church, wrote that he became a believer the moment he understood, in listening to the Gospel, that for a truly happy life both the possession and the tranquil enjoyment of things were insufficient and that there was something more important and precious: the knowledge of the truth and the fullness of the love given by Christ (cf. De Trinitate 1,2).
Dear friends, the Church, each one of us, must bring to the world this joyful news that Jesus is Lord, the One in whom God’s closeness and love for every individual man and woman, and for humanity in its entirety, was made flesh. This proclamation must ring out anew in the regions that have an ancient Christian tradition. Bl. John Paul ii spoke of the need for a new evangelization addressed to all those who, although they have heard talk of the faith, no longer appreciate, no longer know the beauty of Christianity; on the contrary, at times they even view it as an obstacle to achieving happiness. Therefore today I would like to repeat what I said to the young people at the World Youth Day in Cologne: “the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist”!
If people forget God it is partly because the Person of Jesus is often reduced to that of the figure of a wise man and his divinity weakened, if not denied. This manner of thinking is an obstacle to understanding the radical newness of Christianity, because if Jesus were not the Only Son of the Father then God did not come to visit human history either. We only have human ideas about God. The incarnation, on the other hand, belongs to the heart of the Gospel! Therefore may there be a growing commitment to a renewed season of evangelization, which is not only the task of some of the members of the Church but rather of them all. Evangelization tells us that God is close: God has shown himself to us. In this period of history, is this not the mission that the Lord entrusts to us: to proclaim the newness of the Gospel, like Peter and Paul when they reached our city? Should we not today too show the beauty and reasonableness of faith, carry God’s light to the people of our time, with courage, with conviction, with joy? There are many people who have not encountered the Lord: special pastoral care should be dedicated to them. Beside the children and young people of Christian families who ask to begin the process of Christian initiation, there are adults who have not received Baptism or who have drifted away from the faith and from the Church. This pastoral attention is especially urgent today and asks us to commit ourselves with confidence, sustained by the certainty that God’s grace works in the human heart today too. Every year I myself have the joy of baptizing several young people and adults at the Easter Vigil and of incorporating them in the body of Christ, in communion with the Lord, and thus in communion with God's love.
However, who is the messenger of this joyful proclamation? Certainly, it is every baptized person. Especially parents, whose task it is to ask for Baptism for their children. How great is this gift which the liturgy calls the gateway to our salvation, the beginning of life in Christ, the source of new humanity (cf. Preface of Baptism)! All fathers and mothers are called to cooperate with God in the transmission of the inestimable gift of life and also to make known the One who is Life. And life is not really transmitted if one does not know the foundation and the perennial source of life as well. Dear parents, the Church, as a loving mother, wishes to support you in your fundamental task. Children stand in need of God from an early age, because people need God from the beginning and have the ability to perceive his greatness, they know how to appreciate the value of prayer — to speak to this God — and the rites and thus how to discern the difference between good and evil. May you therefore be able to guide them, accompanying them in the faith, in this knowledge of God, in this friendship with God, and in this knowledge of the difference between good and evil. Accompany them in faith from the most tender age.
And how is it possible to cultivate the seed of eternal life as the child gradually grows up? St Cyprian reminds us: “No one can have God as Father unless they have the Church as Mother”. And this is why we do not say “my Father”, but “Our Father”, because it is only in the “we” of the Church, of the brothers and sisters, that we are children. The Christian community has always accompanied the formation of children and young people, not only helping them to understand intelligently the truths of faith, but also to live experiences of prayer, charity and brotherhood. The word of faith risks remaining mute if it does not find a community that puts it into practice, making it lively and attractive, as an experience of the reality of the true life. Still today, after-school prayer and recreation centres, summer camps and small and important experiences of service are a precious help to adolescents who are undertaking the process of Christian initiation in order to develop a consistent commitment to life. I therefore encourage them to take this path which leads to discovery of the Gospel, not as a utopia but as the full form of life. All this should be proposed especially to those who are preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation, so that the gift of the Holy Spirit may strengthen the joy of being generated as children of God. I therefore invite you to dedicate yourselves enthusiastically to the rediscovery of this sacrament so that those who are already baptized may receive the seal of the faith as a gift from God and fully become witnesses of Christ.
For all this to prove effective and fruitful, knowledge of Jesus must develop and must be extended beyond the celebration of the sacraments. This is the task of catechesis, as Bl. John Paul ii recalled: “The specific character of catechesis, as distinct from the initial conversion — bringing proclamation of the Gospel, has the twofold objective of maturing the initial faith and of educating the true disciple of Christ by means of a deeper and more systematic knowledge of the person and the message of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae CTR 19). Catechesis is an ecclesial action and it is therefore necessary that catechists give witness to and teach the faith of the Church and do not give their own interpretation of it. For this very reason the Catechism of the Catholic Church was compiled. This evening I present it in spirit to all of you anew so that the Church of Rome may be committed with fresh joy to educating in the faith. The structure of the Catechism derives from the experience of the catechumenate in the early Church and takes up the fundamental elements that make a person Christian: faith, the sacraments, the commandments, the “Our Father”.
For all these reasons it is necessary to teach silence and interiority. I trust that in the parishes of Rome the itineraries of Christian initiation will teach prayer so that it may permeate life and help people discover the Truth that dwells in our hearts. And we truly find it in personal conversation with God. Fidelity to the faith of the Church, then, must be conjugated with a “creative catechetics” which will take into account the context, culture and age of those to whom it is addressed. The patrimony of history and art that Rome preserves is a further way in which to bring people close to faith: many things speak to us of the reality of faith here in Rome. I invite you all to make the most in catechesis of this “path of beauty” which leads to the One who, according to St Augustine, is Beauty, so ancient and yet ever new.
Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to thank you for your generous and invaluable service in this fascinating work of evangelization and catechesis. Do not be afraid to commit yourselves to the Gospel! Despite the difficulties you will encounter in reconciling the requirements of the family and of work with those of the community in which you are carrying out your mission, always trust in the help of the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization. Even Bl. John Paul ii, who did his utmost to the very end to proclaim the Gospel in our city and had a special soft spot for young people, intercedes for us with the Father. As I assure you of my constant prayers, I warmly impart to all of you an Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Brother Bishops,
I am pleased to welcome all of you on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum, a privileged time in which to deepen the bonds of fraternity and communion between the See of Peter and the particular Churches that you lead. I wish to thank Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa for the cordial sentiments that he expressed on your behalf and in the name of those whom you shepherd. My warm greetings go to the priests, the men and women religious, and all the lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care. Please assure them of my solicitude and my prayers.
Continuing these reflections on the life of the Church in India, I would like to address a word to you, dear brother Bishops, concerning your responsibilities towards the clergy and the men and women religious of the country. By the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, you are set over God’s people as Pastors, and you are called to teach, sanctify and govern the local Churches. You do this through your preaching of the Gospel, your celebration of the Sacraments, and your care for the sanctity and effective pastoral action of the clergy. Through them you are able to reach out more effectively to the religious and lay people in your care. You are also called to govern in charity by means of a prudent vigilance in your legislative, executive and judicial capacities (cf. Code of Canon Law, cc. 384-394). In this delicate and demanding role, the Bishop, as pastor and father, should so unite and mould his flock into one family that all, conscious of their duties, will wish to live and act as one in charity (cf. Christus Dominus CD 16). Promoting the charism of unity, which is a powerful testimony to the oneness of God and a mark of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, is among the most important responsibilities of the Bishop. In the many tasks which require your prayerful attention, dear Bishops, you recognize the presence of the Spirit of the Lord who is active in the Church. The Spirit, promised to all in Baptism and poured out upon God’s people to guide and sanctify them in Confirmation, longs to unite all Christians in bonds of faith, hope and charity. By your ministry, you are called to strengthen the people whom God has chosen to be his own, to serve them and to build them into a unified temple, a worthy dwelling-place for the Spirit, whether they be young or old, male or female, rich or poor. The Lord, by shedding his blood, has ransomed people of every tribe and tongue, of every people and nation (cf. Rev Ap 5,9). Therefore, I encourage you to continue to be at the service of unity and, leading by example, to draw the people that you shepherd into deeper communion, fraternity and peace.
One of the ways in which the communion of the Church is most clearly manifested is in the particularly important relationship that exists between you and your priests, whether diocesan or religious, who share and exercise with you the one priesthood of Christ. Together in your Dioceses, you form one priestly body and one family, of which you are the father (cf. Christus Dominus CD 29). Thus, you are to be supportive of your priests, your closest collaborators, and to be attentive to their needs and aspirations, showing solicitude for their spiritual, intellectual and material well-being. They, as sons and co-workers, are called in turn to respect your authority, working cheerfully, humbly and with complete dedication to the good of the Church, but always under your direction. The bonds of fraternal love and mutual concern which you foster with your priests will become the basis for overcoming any tensions that may arise, and will promote those conditions which are most propitious for the service of the people of God, edifying them spiritually, leading them to know their worth and to assume the dignity which is theirs as children of God. Moreover, the witness of the reciprocal love and service between you and your priests – without regard for caste or ethnicity but focussed upon the love of God, the spread of the Gospel and the sanctification of the Church – is earnestly desired by the people you serve. They look to you and your priests for a model of holiness, friendship and harmony that speaks to their hearts and teaches by example how to live the new commandment of love.
Religious men and women also look to you for guidance and support. The witness of your own deep love for Jesus Christ and his Church will serve to inspire them as they devote themselves with perfect poverty, chastity and obedience to the life to which they have been called. They will be confirmed in their selfless dedication by your faith, example and trust in God. In this way, in union with them, you will bear ever greater witness before the men and women of our day to the fact that, while the form of this world is passing away (cf. 1Co 7,31), whoever does the will of God abides forever (cf. 1Jn 2,17).
The radiant witness of consecrated life is of course a treasure not only for those graced with a vocation to it, but also for the entire Church. Through close cooperation with religious Superiors, continue to ensure that the members of Religious Institutes in your Dioceses live their particular charisms in their fullness and in harmony with the priests and lay faithful. In addition to ensuring that they receive a solid human, spiritual and theological foundation, see that they are provided with a thorough ongoing formation that will help them mature in all aspects of consecrated life. Because of the unique contribution made by all Religious, women and men, contemplative and active, to the mission of the Church, and because of their role as protagonists of evangelization through prayer and supplication, education, health care, charity and other apostolates, their charisms will surely continue to strengthen the entire ecclesial community and enrich wider society. In a particular way, I wish to express the Church’s appreciation of the many women Religious of the Church in India. They bear witness to its holiness, vitality and hope. They offer countless prayers and perform innumerable good works, often hidden, but nevertheless of great value to the up-building of God’s kingdom. I ask you to encourage them in their vocation, and to invite young women to consider a similar life of fulfilment through love of God and service to others.
With these thoughts, dear Brother Bishops, I express my fraternal affection and esteem. Invoking upon all of you the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and assuring you of my prayers for you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.
Hall of the Great and General Council of the Public Palace
Most Serene Captains Regent,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I warmly thank you for your welcome; in particular I express my gratitude to the Captains Regent, and also for their courteous words. I greet the members of Government and of the Congress as well as the Diplomatic Corps and all the other authorities gathered here. In addressing you, I embrace in spirit the whole population of San Marino. Ever since it came into being this Republic has maintained friendly relations with the Apostolic See, which in recent times have developed and consolidated. My presence here, in the heart of this ancient Republic, expresses and confirms this friendship.
More than 17 centuries ago, a group of the faithful, won over to the Gospel by the preaching of the Deacon Marinus with his witness of holiness, gathered round him to give life to a new community. Taking up this precious heritage, the Sammarinesi have always been faithful to the values of the Christian faith, in which they firmly anchored their own peaceful coexistence, in accordance with criteria of democracy and solidarity.
Aware of these Christian roots, your ancestors were able to bring to fruition down the centuries the great moral and cultural patrimony that they in turn had received, giving life to a hard-working, free people who, even in this tiny territory, did not fail to make a specific contribution to the neighbouring peoples of the Italian Peninsula and to the whole world of civilization, marked by peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.
In addressing you today, I rejoice in your attachment to this patrimony of values and urge you to preserve it and make the most of it, since it is at the root of your deepest identity, which requires to be assumed fully by the people and institutions of San Marino. This identity makes it possible to build a society attentive to the true good of the human person, of human dignity and freedom, and that can safeguard the right of every people to live in peace. These are the strong points of healthy secularism within which the civil institutions must act in their constant commitment to defending the common good. The Church, respecting the legitimate autonomy which the civil authority must enjoy, collaborates with it at the service of man, to defend his fundamental rights, those ethical requirements that are engraved in human nature itself.
For this reason the Church strives to ensure that civil legislation always promotes and protects human life, from conception until its natural end. She also asks for due recognition of the family, as well as effective support. In fact, we know well that in the present context the family institution is being called into question, as if in the attempt to ignore its inalienable value. Those that suffer the consequences are the weakest social categories, especially the young generations that are more vulnerable and so more easily exposed to disorientation, situations of self-marginalization and the slavery of dependence. It is sometimes difficult for educational institutes to provide youth with adequate responses and when family support is lacking they often find natural insertion into the social fabric difficult. For this reason too it is important to recognize that the family, as God made it, is the milieu that best encourages harmonious growth and helps free and responsible individuals to develop, trained in the deep and enduring values.
In the difficult economic situation that the Community of San Marino must also reckon with in the Italian and international context, I would like to give you a word of encouragement. We know that the years that followed the Second World War were a time of straitened economic circumstances that forced thousands of your fellow citizens to emigrate. Then came a period of prosperity, in the wake of the development of trade and tourism, especially in the summer because of the closeness to the Adriatic coast. Such periods of relative prosperity often bring a certain impoverishment in the Christian meaning of life and in fundamental values. Nevertheless San Marino’s society still manifests its wholesome vitality and has retained the best of its energy. Proof of this is the range of charitable and volunteer projects to which many of your fellow-citizens are dedicated.
I would like here also to recall the numerous missionaries of San Marino, lay people and religious, who in recent decades left this land to take Christ’s Gospel to various parts of the world. Hence positive forces are not lacking that will permit your community to face and to get the better of the present difficult situation. In this regard, I hope it will be possible to resolve the issue of border-workers who see their employment threatened, taking into account the right to work and the protection of families.
In the Republic of San Marino, the current crisis is an incentive to re-programme the way to proceed and is an opportunity for discernment (cf. Encyclical Caritas in Veritate ). Indeed, it confronts the entire social fabric with the impelling need to face problems with courage and a sense of responsibility, with generosity and dedication, with reference to that love of freedom which distinguishes your people. In this regard, I would like to repeat to you the words Bl. John XXIII addressed to the Regents of the Republic of San Marino during an official visit they made to the Holy See: “The love of freedom”, Pope John said, “boasts among you exquisitely Christian roots, and your forefathers, understanding their true meaning, taught you never to disassociate its name from God’s, which is its irreplaceable foundation” (Discorsi, Messaggi, Colloqui del Santo Padre Giovanni XXIII, I, 341-343: AAS 60 , 423-424). Still today the great Pope’s recommendation has kept its imperishable value: freedom, that institutions are called to promote and defend in society, indicate a greater and more profound one, that freedom enlivened by the Spirit of God whose life-giving presence in our heart gives the will the ability to orient itself and opt for goodness. As the Apostle Paul said: “God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Ph 2,13). St Augustine, commenting on this passage, emphasized: “It is certain that it is we that will when we will, but it is he who makes us will what is good”, it is God, and St Augustine adds: “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, and his way does he will” (On Grace and Free Will, n. 16, 32).
It is therefore your task, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, to build the earthly city with the proper autonomy and respect for the human and spiritual principles to which every individual is called to adhere with a fully responsible conscience, and, at the same time, it is your duty to continue working actively to build a community founded on shared values. Most Serene Captains Regent and distinguished authorities of the Republic of San Marino, I wholeheartedly express the hope that the whole of your community, in sharing the civil values and with your specific cultural and religious features, may write a new and noble page of history and become, increasingly, a land in which solidarity and peace thrive. With these sentiments I entrust this beloved people to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Grace and I warmly invoke upon each and every one the Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Young People,
I am very glad to be here, among you and with you! I sense your joy and the enthusiasm that is characteristic of your age. I greet and thank your Pastor, Bishop Luigi Negri, for his cordial words of welcome, and your friend who has interpreted your thoughts and feelings and formulated several very serious and important questions.
I hope that in the course of my commentary the elements for finding answers to these questions will emerge. I greet with affection the priests, sisters and counsellors who share your journey of faith and friendship; as well, of course, as your parents who are filled with joy at seeing you grow strong in goodness.
Our meeting here in Pennabilli in front of this cathedral, the heart of the diocese, and in this square, makes us think of the many different meetings of Jesus which are recounted in the Gospels. Today I would like to recall the famous episode in which as the Lord was setting out, someone — a rich young man — ran up and kneeling before him asked this question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mc 10,17).
Perhaps today we would not express ourselves this way, but the meaning of the question is exactly the same: what should I do, how should I live in order to live truly, to find life. We can therefore see in this question the broad and varied human experience that leads to the search for meaning, for the profound sense of life: how to live and why to live. Indeed, the “eternal life” to which the young man of the Gospel referred not only means life after death, he did not only want to know how to reach Heaven. He wanted to know: how must I live now in order to already obtain the life that can then also be eternal. Therefore, in this question the young man expresses his need to find meaning, fullness and truth in daily life. A person cannot live without this search for the truth about himself — who am I, what am I living for — a truth that is an incentive to widen his horizon and to go beyond material things, not in order to flee from reality but to live it in an even truer way that is richer in meaning and hope, and not merely superficial.
Moreover, I think — and I have seen and heard it in your friend’s words — that this is also your experience. The important questions we bear within us remain, they always resurface. Who are we? Where do we come from? Who do we live for? These questions are the highest sign of the transcendence of the human being and of our innate capacity not to stop at appearances. And it is precisely by looking at ourselves with truth, sincerity and courage that we understand the beauty, and also the precariousness of life and feel a dissatisfaction, a restlessness, that nothing material can assuage. In the end all promises often prove inadequate.
Dear friends, I invite you to become aware of this healthy and positive restlessness and not to be afraid to ask yourselves the fundamental questions on the meaning and value of life. Do not stop at partial, immediate answers; they are certainly easier and more convenient at the time and can bring a few moments of happiness, exaltation or intoxication but they do not lead you to the true joy of living, the joy that is born, as Jesus said, from those who build on solid rock rather than on sand. Learn how to reflect, how not to interpret your human experience superficially but rather in depth: you will discover, with wonder and joy, that your heart is a window open on the infinite! This is man’s greatness but also his difficulty.
One of the the illusions produced in the course of history was the belief that technical and scientific progress would be able, in an absolute manner, to provide answers and solutions to all humanity’s problems. And we see that this is not the case. In fact, even if this had been possible, nothing and no one would have been able to delete the most profound questions on the meaning of life and death, on the meaning of suffering, of all things, because these questions are written in the human spirit, in our hearts, beyond the sphere of needs. Even in the epoch of scientific and technological progress — which has given us so much — the human person remains a being who wishes for more, for something more than comfort and well-being; the human being who is open to the whole truth of his or her existence, who cannot stop at material things but opens to a far wider horizon.
You experience all this continually, every time you ask yourselves: but why? When you contemplate a sunset or when a piece of music stirs your heart and mind; when you feel what it means to love truly; when you feel forcefully the sense of justice and truth, and when you feel indignant about the lack of justice, truth and happiness.
Dear young people, the human experience is a reality that we share, but it may be given various degrees of meaning. And it is here that is decided the way to direct one’s life, and here that one chooses to whom to entrust it, to whom to entrust oneself. The risk is always that of remaining confined to the world of things, of the immediate, the relative, the useful, of losing sensitivity to all that refers to our spiritual dimension. It is by no means a question of contempt for the use of reason or of rejecting scientific progress, far from it. Rather, it is a matter of understanding that each one of us is not only made in a “horizontal” dimension but also has a “vertical” dimension. Scientific data and technological instruments cannot replace the world of life, the horizons of meaning and freedom, of the richness of relations of friendship and love.
Dear young people, it is precisely in being open to the whole truth about ourselves, about ourselves and about the world, that we perceive God’s project for us. He meets the needs of every human being and enables us to know the mystery of his love. In the Lord Jesus who died and rose for us and gave us the Holy Spirit, we are also enabled to share in God’s own life, we belong to God’s family. In him, in Christ, you can find the answers to the questions that accompany you on your way, not superficially or easily but by walking with Jesus, by living with Jesus. The encounter with Christ is not resolved in adherence to a doctrine or a philosophy; what he proposes to you is to share in his life itself and thus to learn to live, to learn what the human being is, to learn what I am. Jesus answered the young man who asked him what he should do to have eternal life, in other words, to live truly, with an invitation to detach himself from his possessions and added, “come, follow me” (Mc 10,21).
Christ’s words show that your life finds meaning in the mystery of God who is Love; a demanding and profound Love that goes beyond superficiality! What would your life be without this love? God takes care of men and women from creation to the end of time, when he will bring his plan of salvation to completion. In the Risen Lord we have the certainty of our hope! Christ himself, who went to the depths of death and rose, is hope in Person and the definitive Word spoken on our history, he is a positive word.
Do not be afraid to face difficult situations, moments of crisis, the trials of life, for the Lord goes with you, he is with you! I encourage you to grow in friendship with him through frequent reading of the Bible and of the whole of Sacred Scripture, through faithful participation in the Eucharist as a personal encounter with Christ, through commitment within the ecclesial community, journeying on with a good spiritual director.
Transformed by the Holy Spirit, you will be able to experience authentic freedom, which is such when it is oriented to goodness. In this way your life, inspired by a continuous search for the face of the Lord and by the sincere wish to give yourselves, will be a sign for many of your peers, an eloquent appeal to ensure that the desire for fullness, which is in all of us, will be fulfilled at last in the encounter with the Lord Jesus. Let the mystery of Christ illuminate your whole self! You will then be able to bring to the different contexts that newness which can change relationships, institutions, and structures, to build a world that is fairer, that shows greater solidarity, enlivened by the search for the common good.
Do not give in to an individualistic or selfish logic! May you be comforted by the witness of the many young people who reached the destination of holiness: only think of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, of St Dominic Savio, St Maria Goretti, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati and Bl. Alberto Marvelli — from this land — and of many others, unknown to us but who lived their time in the light and power of the Gospel, and found the answer: how to live, what they must do to live.
To conclude this meeting I would like to entrust each one of you to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. Like her, you can say and renew your “yes”, and always magnify the Lord with your life, because he gives you words of eternal life! So courage, dear young men and women, on your journey of faith and of Christian life I too am always close to you and accompany you with my Blessing. Thank you for your attention!
Speeches 2005-13 459