John Paul II´s Angelus Address

Asks Youth to Join Him Thursday at St. Peter´s

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VATICAN CITY, APR. 1, 2001 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address before today´s midday Angelus.

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Beloved Brothers and Sisters!

1. We begin this day the last part of the Lenten journey which, next Sunday, we will enter Holy Week. While we draw near to the great events of Easter, more urgently do we perceive the invitation of Jesus: «If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me» (Luke 9:23).

This demanding condition, set by him on whoever wants to follow him, must constitute the style of the Christian, which Lent exhorts us to verify, renew and deepen. Jesus does not propose mortification as an end in itself. In reality, «to deny oneself» and «to take up the cross» mean to assume thoroughly one´s own responsibility before God and neighbor. The Son of God has been faithful to the mission entrusted to him by the Father, even to shedding his blood for our salvation. He asks his disciples to do as much, giving themselves unreservedly to God and to their brothers and sisters.

Treasuring these words of his, we discover how Lent is a time of profitable deepening of faith. This holds a high educational value, particularly for young people, called to choose a clear direction for their lives. To each of them Christ repeats: «If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.»

2. Beloved young people, this is precisely the theme of my Message for the 16th World Youth Day, which will be celebrated in every diocese next Sunday, Palm Sunday.

Christ is demanding with his disciples, and the Church does not hesitate to propose again to you also his Gospel «without discounts.» Those who join the divine Master´s school lovingly embrace his Cross, which leads to the fullness of life and happiness. Isn´t it, perhaps, precisely the Cross that has guided, the last 15 years, young people´s pilgrimages on the World Youth Days?

This Cross, which has gone around the world will, next Sunday, at the end of the holy Mass in St. Peter´s Square, be handed on by the youth of Rome to those of Toronto, the Canadian city which will host the world young Meeting in July 2002.

3. To prepare ourselves for this enchanting celebration, I invite you, dear young people of Rome, to come here to St. Peter´s Square next Thursday afternoon. Together we will spend a moment of prayer, of reflection and of celebration. I am expecting a big turnout and, until we meet, I entrust you and your contemporaries of every nation and continent to the Blessed Virgin, so she can lead you to an encounter with her Son Jesus.
[translation by ZENIT]

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