Pope Francis has encouraged young people to find the peace and joy that God gives us in the midst of life’s difficulties.
Responding to the questions of young people this morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father called on them to welcome and search the true peace and joy God gives, and warned them from false feelings of peace or happiness, that come from ‘the enemy.’
Pope Francis held a dialogue with young people from around the world this morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The young people are in Rome for the international conference of the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM), Aug. 4-10, on the occasion of its 100-year anniversary. More than 1,500 young people from about 38 national delegations, along with 600 Italian EYM families, were present, bringing the total number of attendees to about 2,000.
The EYM is an international movement of Christian formation for children and young people from the ages of 5 to 25 who seek to live following the example of Jesus. Started in France in 1915 as a “Eucharistic Crusade,” EYM now is present throughout the world and recognizes five different models to live out its education and spirituality. It is the second largest youth movement of the Catholic Church, with the first being the Catholic Scouts. The movement has more than 1.1 million young people around the world on five continents. It is the youth branch of the Apostleship of Prayer–the worldwide network of prayer that publishes the Pontiff’s monthly prayer intentions–entrusted by the Church to the Society of Jesus.
During the audience, Pope Francis responded to six questions posed by young people of different ages, asked in their native languages. Translations of the questions were made available to the young people, so they could follow along. Francis, who already saw the questions, responded in Italian.
The Pope observed how questions asked focused on tensions and conflicts. The Argentine Pontiff noted that tensions and conflicts signify we are alive, otherwise, we would be living in ‘a cemetery.’
“But what would it be if we think of a society, a family, a group of friends, without tensions and without conflicts? … It would be a cemetery, because only in the dead things are there not tensions and conflicts.” Where there is life, there is tension and conflict, he said, but by realizing this and seeking peace with God, we can surpass them.
“Conflicts,” Francis noted, “do us good because they help us to understand differences and realize the importance of finding solutions. Tensions, he underscored, can help young people grow and develop courage, which is needed to face challenges.
“A young person without courage,” he said, “is a wishy-washy young person, an ‘old’ young person! Sometimes I find myself wanting to say to the young people, don’t go into retirement because there are young people that go into retirement at 20 years old.”
He encouraged the young people to have dialogue whenever there are tensions, especially within the family, and to recognize the value of the elderly.
“Always visiting with the grandparents is a surprise. They always surprise us. They know how to listen and have a patience,” Francis said, adding that “when they live in the house they even help to resolve the normal tensions in the family.”
“Don’t forget the grandparents, understand?” Francis urged, stressing they are the memory and wisdom of the people.
Before concluding, the Pope stressed that though there is much ugliness in the world and war, there is much beauty. “There are so many hidden saints among the People of God,” he said, noting, “God is present. God is present, and there are so very many reasons to hope and to go forward. Be courageous, and go forward!”