Pope Francis meets youth in Asunción del Paraguay

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Pope's Address to Young People in Paraguay

“Jesus, I pray for the young men and women who do not know that you are their strength and who are afraid to live, afraid to be happy, afraid to dream. Jesus, teach them to dream”

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Here is a ZENIT transcription and translation of the address Pope Francis gave off-the-cuff this evening during his meeting with youth in Paraguay. It was the last event in his nine-day apostolic visit to South America. Shortly after giving this address, he departed for Rome.

At various moments in the talk, he asked the young people to repeat what he was saying or to respond to his questions.

* * *

Dear young people, good afternoon.

After having read the Gospel, Orlando approached to greet me and he said to me, I ask you to pray for the liberty of each one of us, of everyone. That’s the blessing that Orlando requested for each one of us. That is the blessing that we ask now all together. Liberty, because liberty is a gift that God gives us, but we must know how to receive it, we must know how to have a free heart, because all of us know that in the world, there are so many ties that bind the heart. And they don’t allow the heart to be free. Exploitation, a lack of what’s necessary to survive, drug addiction, sadness — all of these things take our liberty from us. So, everyone together, thanking Orlando for having asked for this blessing, to have a free heart, a heart that can say what it thinks, that can say what it feels, and can do what it thinks and what it feels. This is a free heart. And that is what we are going to ask, all together. This blessing that Orlando asked for everyone. 

Repeat with me.

Lord Jesus, give me a free heart, that I might not be a slave to all of the traps of the world, that I might not be a slave of comfort, of deception, that I might not be a slave of the good life, that I might not be a slave of vice, that I might not be a slave of a false liberty, which is doing what I want in every moment.

Thank you, Orlando, for making us realize that we have to ask for a free heart. Ask for it every day.

And we have listened to two testimonies, that of Liz and that of Manuel. Liz teaches us something, just as Orlando taught us to pray to have a free heart. Liz, with her life, teaches us that we can’t be like Pontius Pilate, to wash our hands of things. Liz could have easily put her mom in one care home and her grandmother in another care home and lived her life as a young person, having fun, studying what she wanted. And Liz said no. Grandmother. Mother. And Liz became a helper, a servant, or if you want to say it yet more powerfully, a help maid of the mom and the grandmother, and she did this with affection.

To such a degree, she said, that even the roles are changed and she now feels like the mother of her mother, in the way in which she cares for her, her mother with this cruel sickness that confuses things. And she burned her life up to now, 25 years, serving her mother and her grandmother. Alone? No. Liz wasn’t alone. She said two things that have to help us. She spoke of an angel, an aunt who was like an angel. And she spoke of her meetings with her friends on the weekends, with the young evangelizers, with the youth group that nourished her faith.

And these two angels, the aunt who cared for her and this youth group, gave her more strength to keep going. And that’s called solidarity. What’s it called? When we take on others’ problems. And she found there a haven for her heart, tired. But there’s something that doesn’t get away from us. She didn’t say, “fine, I’ll do this and that’s it.” She studied and she’s a nurse. Doing all of this, the help, the solidarity that she received from you, from the group of you, that she received from this aunt who was like an angel, helped her to keep going. And today, at age 25, she has the grace that Orlando had us ask for. She has a free heart.

Liz follows the Fourth Commandment, honor your father and your mother. Liz shows her life, she burns it, in the service of her mother. This is a most high degree of solidarity. This is a most high degree of love. A testimony. Father, is it possible to love? There we have someone who teaches us to love. First liberty, a free heart. Then, everyone together, [having the crowd repeat] first a free heart. Second, solidarity to accompany. Solidarity. That is what this second testimony teaches us.

And for Manuel, life wasn’t made easy for him. Manuel is not a boy, wasn’t a boy, a youth, a young man, for whom life was easy. He said hard words. He was exploited. He was mistreated. At risk of falling into an addiction. He was alone. Exploited, mistreated and alone. And instead of going out and doing evil things, instead of going out to steal, he went to work. Instead of going out to take revenge on life, he looked ahead.

Manuel used a nice phrase. I was able to keep going, because in the situations where I was, it was difficult to speak about a future. How many young people, you today, have the opportunity to study, to sit down to table with your family every day, you have the opportunity of not lacking the essential? How many of you have this? All together, those who have this, say, “Thank you, Lord.” Thank you because here we had the testimony of a young man who from the time he was a boy knew what sorrow was, what sadness was, who was exploited, mistreated, who didn’t have anything to eat and who was alone. Lord, save these boys and girls who are in this situation. And for us, Lord, thank you. Thank you, Lord. Everyone. Thank you, Lord.

Freedom of heart. Do you remember? Freedom of heart, as Orlando said. Service and solidarity, what Liz told us. Hope, work, fighting for life, moving forward, as Manuel told us. As you see, life isn’t easy for many young people and I want you to understand this, I want you to put it into your heads. If for me, life is relatively easy, there are other boys and girls for whom life is not relatively easy. Moreover, that desperation pushes them toward delinquency, pushes them to crime, pushes them to collaborate with corruption. We have to tell these boys and girls that we’re close to them, that we want to give them a hand, that we want to help them with solidarity, with love, with hope.

There were two phrases that both of those who spoke said, Liz and Manuel. Two phrases that are beautiful. Listen to them. Liz said she began to know Jesus. To know Jesus. And this is to open the door to hope. And Manuel said, “I met God, my strength.” To know God is strength. To know God, to grow close to Jesus is hope and strength. 

And that’s what we need of the young people today. Youth with hope and youth with strength. We don’t want weakling youth, young people who are “up to here, no more,” neither yes nor no. We don’t want youth who tire easily and who live tired, with a face of boredom. We want strong young people, young people with hope and with strength. Why? Because they know Jesus, because they know God. Because they have a free heart. Free heart. Repeat it. Solidarity. Work. Hope. Strength. Know Jesus. Know God, my strength. Does a young person who lives like this have a face of boredom? Does he have a sad heart? This is the path.

For this, you need sacrifice. You have to go against the current. The Beatitudes that we read a bit ago are the plan of Jesus for us. The plan, this against-the-current plan. Jesus tells you, “happy are the poor in spirit.” He doesn’t say, happy are the rich, those who collect money. No. The poor in spirit, those who are capable of approaching and understanding what a poor person is. Jesus doesn’t say happy are those who have a good time, but happy are those who are capable of feeling afflicted with the sorrow of others. I recommend to you that later on at home you read the Beatitudes, which are in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew. In which chapter? And of which Gospel? Read them and meditate on them, because they will do you good.

I thank you, Liz, who is around here somewhere, I suppose. There you are. I thank you Manuel, where are you at? And I thank you Orlando.

A free heart is what I wish for you. 

And I have to go. 

The other day, the other day,
a priest jokingly said to me, “Yes, you keep telling the young people to stir things up. You keep on, and keep on, but then with the agitation that the young people make, we are the ones that have to get it in line.” Stir things up, but also, help to order and organize the agitation that you make. Ok? Both things. Stir things up and organize it well. A ‘stirring up of things’ that will give us a free heart, that will give us solidarity, that will give us hope, that is born from having known Jesus and knowing that God, whom I got to know, is my strength. This is the agitation that you should bring about.

Since I knew the questions [that you were going to ask] because they had been given to me beforehand, I had written a discourse for you, to give it to you. But discourses are boring, so I leave it here with the bishop, the one in charge of youth, so that he publishes it.

And now, before going, I ask you, first that you keep praying for me. Second that you keep stirring things up. Third that you help to organize the agitation that you make so that it doesn’t destroy anything. And all together now in silence we are going to elevate our hearts to God, each one.

Lord Jesus, each one from his heart, in silence, repeat the words. Lord Jesus I thank you for having me here. I thank you because you gave me brothers like Liz, Manuel and Orlando. I thank you because you gave us many brothers who are like them, who have encountered you, Jesus, who know you, Jesus, who know that you, their God, are their strength. Jesus I pray for the young men and women who do not know that you are their strength and who are afraid to live, afraid to be happy, afraid to dream. Jesus, teach them to dream. To dream great things, beautiful things, things that, although they seem day-to-day, are things that stretch the heart. Lord Jesus, give us strength. Give us a free heart. Give us hope. Give us love. And teach us to serve. Amen.

Now I’m going to give you the blessing and I ask you please, that you pray for me and that you pray for so many young men and women who do not have the grace that you have, of having known Jesus who gives you hope, who gives you a free heart, and who makes you strong. 

May Almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

[Translation by Kathleen Naab]
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