VATICAN CITY, APR. 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II gave five specific counsels to young people, to help them make room for Jesus in their lives.
“Prayer, hearing the Word of God and meditation, the Mass, eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of confession” were his recommendations today to the 40,000 young people gathered in St. Peter´s Square for a pre-World Youth Day gathering.
He also told them, “If the Lord calls you to serve him more closely in the priesthood or in a special consecrated state, follow him with generosity.”
Music and soccer stars, as well as Italian and Canadian youth, delighted the Holy Father with a festival of color and sound in the square.
“Dear friends,” the Pope told his young listeners, “I have never tired in my ministry to meet with people; this is the purpose of the pilgrimages and pastoral visits that I undertake. Now that the years are passing by, God willing, I do not intend to stop, because I am convinced that Christ can be more easily proclaimed by personal contact with brothers.” The youths responded with a thunderous applause.
The afternoon festival, held under a brilliant sun, anticipated the World Youth Day, which this year is being held in all the dioceses around the world on Palm Sunday. Among those present today were Canadian youths, who this Sunday will receive the World Youth Day Cross from their Italian contemporaries.
The cross will travel around Canada, in anticipation of the next international World Youth Day, to be held in Toronto from July 18-28, 2002. The Pope plans to go to that event, which is expected to draw 500,000 people.
It is “not easy” to be a Christian and a missionary today, the Pope acknowledged. “To proclaim and witness to the Gospel entails many difficulties,” he said. “Yes, it is true: We are living at a time when society is influenced by models of life that place having, pleasure and appearance, in the egotistical sense, in the first place.”
John Paul II added, “The missionary determination of believers must confront this way of thinking and acting. However, we must not be afraid, because Christ can change man´s heart and accomplish a ´miraculous catch´ when we least expect it.”