VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday to a group of youth from Madrid, on a pilgrimage to Rome to thank the Pope for World Youth Day held in their city last summer.
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Lord Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Young People,
I am grateful for the kind words that the Lord Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela addressed to me, making himself the interpreter of the sentiments of all those here present, and I greet him with profound affection, as well as the Lord Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Madrid and the Lord Bishop of San Sebastian, responsible for the Youth Pastoral Department in the Spanish Episcopal Conference.
I am pleased to welcome to the See of Peter, those of you who are part of this pilgrimage, which you organized with eagerness, to thank the Pope for his trip to Spain on the occasion of the World Youth Day, held the last month of August.
I cordially greet the authorities, organizers, sponsors and volunteers , but, in a very special way, the young people, who are the protagonists and principal recipients of this pastoral initiative vigorously stimulated by my beloved predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, of whom today we remember his transit to Heaven.
I also have very present all the bishops of Spain and the episcopal delegates of youth, who collaborated so much in the dioceses for the happy outcome of that significant ecclesial event. And I cannot fail to mention the members of Consecrated Life and so many other persons and institutions that made a valuable and generous contribution to the culmination of this very end.
Whenever I remember the 26th World Youth Day lived in Madrid, my heart fills with gratitude to God for the experience of grace of those unforgettable days. From
Dear friends, that splendid meeting can only be understood in the light of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. He does not cease to infuse encouragement in hearts, and continually brings us out to the public square of history, as at Pentecost, to give witness of the wonders of God. You are called to cooperate in this exciting task and it is worthwhile to give oneself to it without reservations. Christ needs you by his side to extend and build his Kingdom of charity. This will be possible if you hold him as the best of friends and confess him by leading a life according to the Gospel, with courage and fidelity.
Someone might think that this has nothing to do with him or that it is an enterprise that exceeds his capacities and talents. But it is not so. No one is extra in this adventure. That is why you must not fail to ask yourselves what the Lord is calling you to do and how you can help him. You all have a personal vocation that he has desired to propose to you for your happiness and holiness. When one sees oneself conquered by the fire of his look, no sacrifice seems too great to follow him and to give him the best of oneself. So did the saints do always, spreading the light of the Lord and the power of his love, transforming the world until converting it into a welcoming home for all, where God is glorified and his children are blessed.
Dear young people, like those Apostles of the first hour, you also must be missionaries of Christ among your relatives, friends and acquaintances, in your study and work environments, among the poor and the sick. Speak of his love and goodness with simplicity, free of complexes and fears. Christ himself will give you the strength for it. On your part, listen to him and have a frequent and sincere exchange with him. Tell him with confidence about your yearnings and aspirations, also about your sorrows and those of persons you see lacking in consolation and hope. Evoking those splendid days, I wish to exhort you likewise not to spare any effort so that those around you will discover him personally and meet him, who is alive and with his Church.
Yesterday, with the solemnity of Palm Sunday, we began Holy Week, in which we follow Christ’s steps to the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. We acclaim him as Messiah and Son of David, waving, like the children and young people of Jerusalem, the palms of salvation and jubilation. At the same time, we contemplate the sorrowful Passion and his humiliation unto death. I invite you, during these holy days, to unite yourselves fully to our Redeemer, recalling that solemn Via Crucis of the World Youth Day. In it we prayed, moved by the beauty of those sacred images, which expressed profoundly the mysteries of our faith. I encourage you also to bear your cross, the cross of the pain and sins of the world, so that you understand better Christ’s love for humanity. Thus you will feel called to proclaim that God loves man and sent his Son, not to condemn him, but to have him attain a full and meaningful life.
Dear friends, I am sure that you are already thinking of going to Rio de Janeiro, where many young people of the whole world will again congregate, in what will undoubtedly be one more milestone of the journey of the Church, always young, which wishes to widen the horizon of the new generations with the treasure of the Gospel, force of life for the world. As we now go forward with our eyes fixed on the imminent dawn of Easter, may the celebration of the World Youth Day in Brazil be a new and joyful experience of the Risen Christ, who leads the whole of humanity to the clarity of life that proceeds from God.
May Mary Most Holy, who remained silent at the foot of the cross with her Son and waited patiently for the fulfillment of his promises, be always for you Mother of mercy, life, sweetness and hope. Thank you, many thanks for your festive and jovial presence, dear young people. I bless you from the depth of my heart.[Translation by ZENIT]