Pope Recalls Being "Hemmed in" by Nazi Dictatorship

Draws on Own Experience to Invite Youth Toward Infinity

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 3, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Referring to his own experience as a young man, Benedict XVI is encouraging youth to foster their desires for “something beyond everyday life,” since that longing is a sign of God’s “imprint.”

The Pope made this exhortation in his message for next August’s World Youth Day in Spain. The message, dated Aug. 6, was released by the Vatican today.

The Holy Father’s message makes several references to his own youthfulness.

“When I think back on that time, I remember above all that we were not willing to settle for a conventional middle-class life,” he recounted. “We wanted something great, something new. We wanted to discover life itself, in all its grandeur and beauty. 

“Naturally, part of that was due to the times we lived in. During the Nazi dictatorship and the war, we were, so to speak, ‘hemmed in’ by the dominant power structure. So we wanted to break out into the open, to experience the whole range of human possibilities.”

The Pontiff reflected that “to some extent, this urge to break out of the ordinary is present in every generation.”

“Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater,” he said. “Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough.”

Benedict XVI said this desire for “a more meaningful life” is actually a sign that God created us, “and that we bear his ‘imprint.'”

“God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life,” he affirmed. “Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture!”

Right to roots

The Bishop of Rome told the young people that it is “vital to have roots” and a solid foundation.

“This is particularly true today,” he said, when many people lack “stable points of reference on which to build their lives, and so they end up deeply insecure.”

The Pope pointed to the “growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist.” He cautioned that this way of thinking “does not lead to true freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment.”

“As young people,” he said, “you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives: like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.”

Preparing Madrid

The Holy Father goes on to reflect on the theme of World Youth Day, taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.”

And he concludes his message by reiterating the invitation to Spain next August.

“I await each of you with great joy,” he affirmed. “Jesus Christ wishes to make you firm in faith through the Church.”

Acknowledging that following Christ is not easy, the Holy Father told the youth: “Do not be discouraged. Rather, look for the support of the Christian community, the support of the Church! […]

“Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God.”

Finally, he entrusted young people to Our Lady: “May she intercede for each one of you so that, in the coming World Youth Day you may grow in faith and love.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30244?l=english

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