Pope Francis has told young people to have the courage to be happy, and to realize that God is always waiting for them with open arms.
In his message for the 30th World Youth Day released today by the Vatican, the Pope said, “In Christ, you find fulfilled your every desire for goodness and happiness.”
“He alone can satisfy your deepest longings,” Francis continued, “which are so often clouded by deceptive worldly promises.”
While celebrated annually on Palm Sunday at the diocesan level, the next international World Youth Day will take place in Krakow, Poland in July 2016.
In this year’s message, the Holy Father reflected on the Beatitudes as a guide to the journey to Krakow. This year, specifically focuses on the 6th Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5: 8).While saying that the search for happiness is shared by people of all times and ages, he added that God has placed in the heart of every man and woman an irrepressible desire for happiness and for fulfillment.
“Have you not noticed that your hearts are restless, always searching for a treasure which can satisfy their thirst for the infinite?” he asked.
“As Saint John Paul II said,” the Pope reflected, “’He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise.
‘It is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle,'” he quoted.
“It is Jesus,” the Pope reaffirmed, “who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives.”
Through purity of heart, Francis said, this blessedness comes. He then pondered:
In what, then, does the happiness born of a pure heart consist?
The Pontiff warned against relationships which impurify and “defile” our hearts.
He stressed we must form our consciences rightly and sensibly, in order to discern what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In an interview with young people from Belgium in March, the Pope asked them, “Where is your treasure? In what does your heart find its rest?”
Repeating these questions, the Jesuit Pope reminded the young people: Our hearts “can be attached to true or false treasures,” “can find genuine rest” or “can simply slumber, becoming lazy and lethargic.”
The greatest good we can have in life, he said, is our relationship with God.
“Are you convinced of this? Do you realize how much you are worth in the eyes of God? Do you know that you are loved and welcomed by him unconditionally, as indeed you are?”
“Once we lose our sense of this, we human beings become an incomprehensible enigma, for it is the knowledge that we are loved unconditionally by God which gives meaning to our lives.”
Throughout the Bible and in the history of each one of us, he said, “we see that it is always God who takes the first step.” Therefore, Francis said not to be discouraged or afraid.
“The Lord’s invitation to encounter him is made to each of you, in whatever place or situation you find yourself,” he said.
While saying we are all sinners who need to be purified by the Lord, he explained that “it is enough to take a small step towards Jesus to realize that he awaits us always with open arms,” particularly in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
“My question to you is this: ‘Are you praying?'” he asked. “Do you know that you can speak with Jesus, with the Father, with the Holy Spirit, as you speak to a friend? And not just any friend, but the greatest and most trusted of your friends.”
Recommending encountering Jesus through reading a little passage of the Gospel daily, Francis said that Christ “will open your eyes to recognize his presence and to discover the loving plan he has for your life.”
“Challenge yourselves, and with a pure heart do not be afraid of what God is asking of you!” Francis exhorted.
“Never forget: God’s will is our happiness!” he said. “So once more I urge you: Have the courage to be happy!”
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