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Dear brothers and sisters! Hello!
Last Sunday I found myself in Rio de Janeiro. Holy Mass and World Youth Day concluded. I think we should all together thank the Lord for the great gift that this event was, for Brazil, for Latin America and for the world. It was a new stage in the pilgrimage of young people across the continents with cross of Christ. We must not forget that the World Youth Days are not “fireworks,” moments of enthusiasm that are an end in themselves; they are the stages of a long journey, begun in 1985, by the initiative of John Paul II. He gave the cross to the young people and told them: go and I will come with you! And this is how it was; and this pilgrimage of young people continued with Pope Benedict, and, thanks be to God, I too was able to live this marvelous stage in Brazil. Let us always remember: the youth do not follow the Pope, they follow Jesus Christ, carrying his cross. And the Pope leads them and accompanies them on this journey of faith and hope. So, I thank all the young people who participated, some of whom also made sacrifices to do so. And I thank the Lord too for the meetings I had with the Pastors and people of that great country that is Brazil, as well as with the authorities and volunteers. May the Lord repay all those who worked for this great feast of faith. I would also like to stress my gratitude, many thanks to the Brazilians. These people of Brazil are great, a people with a big heart! I will not forget their warm welcome, their greetings, their looks, such joy. They are also a generous people; I ask the Lord to bless them abundantly!
I would like to ask you to pray with me that the young people who participated World Youth Day be able to translate this experience into their daily journey, into their everyday behavior; and also be able to translate it into the important decisions of life, responding to the personal call of the Lord. Today the provocative words of Qoheleth resound in today’s liturgy: “Vanity of vanities … all is vanity” (1:2). Young people are especially sensitive to the lack of meaning and values that surrounds them. And unfortunately they pay the consequences. But meeting with the living Jesus in his great family that is the Church fills the heart with joy because it fills us with true life, with a profound good, that does not pass or go bad: we saw it in the faces of the kids in Rio. But this experience must confront the vanity of daily life, the poison of the void that insinuates itself into our societies based on profit and having, that deceives young people with consumerism. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us precisely of the absurdity of basing our happiness on having. The rich man says to himself: My soul, you possess many things … relax, eat, drink and enjoy! But God says to him: You fool, this very night your soul will be demanded of you. And the things you accumulated, whose will it be? (cf. Luke 12:19-20). Dear brothers and sisters, truth wealth is love of God shared with our brothers, that love that comes from God and brings us to share it with each other and help each other. Whoever has experience of this love does not fear death and receives peace of heart. Let us entrust this intention – of receiving God’s love and sharing it with our brothers – to the intercession of the Virgin Mary.[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following remarks in Italian to those present:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you and thank you for your presence despite the heat.
I am happy to greet in particular some youth groups: the Carmelite Youth of Croatia; the young people of Sandon and Fossò in the Diocese of Verona; those from Mozzanica in the Diocese of Cremona; those from Moncalieri, who walked here; those from Bergamo, who came by bicycle. Thank you all! There are a lot of young people in the piazza today: this seems like Rio de Janeiro!
I would like to assure parish priests and all the priests of the world a special remembrance because today is the feast of their patron: St. Jean Marie Vianney. Dear brothers, we are united in prayer and in personal charity.
Tomorrow, Romans, we remember our Mother, the “Salus Populi Romani”: let us ask her to protect us; and now we all together greet her with an Ave Maria. Everyone together: “Ave Maria…”. A greeting to our Mother – everyone together a greeting to our mother (he applauds together with the people).
I would also like to recall the liturgical feast of the Transfiguration, which will be the day after tomorrow, with a profound sentiment of gratitude for the Venerable Pope Paul VI, who departed from this world on the evening of August 6, 35 years ago.
Dear friends, I wish you a good Sunday and a good month of August. And have a good lunch! Goodbye![Translation by Joseph Trabbic]