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Dear Young People of Lithuania,
I am truly happy to be spiritually present in your midst and to give you my affectionate greeting on the occasion of the “Sixth Day of Young People,” that sees you gathered in such numbers at Kaunas. I address a particular thought to all those among you who are following the itinerary of full dedication to God in the priesthood and in consecrated life, as well as to all those who are committed in the service of the least through the forms of volunteer work. I greet and thank your Pastors, who planned these special days of prayer and reflection, centered on the topic “I Have Called Your Friends” (John 15:15).
In fact, beginning from this word of the Lord, I would like to offer some brief thoughts for your spiritual growth and your mission within the Church and in the world. Jesus wants to be your friend, your brother, teacher of truth and life who reveals the way to follow to attain happiness, the fulfillment of yourselves according to God’s plan for each one of you. And this friendship of Jesus, that bring us mercy, the love of God, is “free,” a pure gift. He doesn’t ask you for anything in return, but asks you only to receive it. Jesus wants to love you for what you are, even in your frailty and weakness because, touched by His love, you will be able to be renewed.
The encounter with the love of God in the friendship of Christ is possible first of all in the Sacraments, in particular the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In the Holy Mass we celebrate the memorial od the Lord’s sacrifice, His giving himself totally for our salvation: again today He really gives His Body and sheds His Blood to redeem the sins of humanity and make us enter into communion with Him. Jesus receives us with all of our limitations, He bring us the mercy of the Father who forgives us, and transforms our heart, rendering it a new heart, capable of loving Him, who loved His own to the end (cf. John 13:1). And this love is manifested in his mercy. Jesus always forgives us.
Another privileged way to grow in friendship with Christ is the acceptance of his Word. The Lord speaks to us in the depth of our conscience, He speaks to us through Sacred Scripture, He speaks to us in prayer. Learn to stay in silence before Him, to read and meditate the Bible, especially the Gospels, to dialogue with Him every day, to feel His presence of friendship and love. And here I would like to underscore the beauty of a simple contemplative prayer, accessible to all, great and small, educated and not very educated; it is the prayer of the Holy Rosary. In the Rosary we address the Virgin Mary, so that she will lead us to an ever closer union with her Son Jesus to be conformed to Him, to have his sentiments, to act like Him. In the Rosary, in fact, by repeating the “Hail Mary,” we meditate on the Mysteries, the events of the life of Christ to know and love Him ever more. The Rosary is an effective instrument to open ourselves to God, because it helps us to overcome our egoism and to have peace in our hearts, in our families, in society and in the world.
Dear young people, Christ’s love and His friendship are not an illusion – on the Cross Jesus shows us how concrete they are –, they are not reserved for a few. You will find this friendship and will experience all its fruitfulness and beauty if you seek it with sincerity, open yourselves with confidence to Him, and cultivate with commitment your spiritual life by approaching the Sacraments, meditating on Sacred Scripture, praying with constancy, and living intensely in the Christian community. Feel yourselves part of the Church, be committed to evangelization, in union with brothers in the faith and in communion with your Pastors. Do not be afraid to live the faith! Be witnesses of Christ in your daily environments, with simplicity and courage. Be able to show to those you meet, to your contemporaries, above all the face of mercy and love of God, who always forgives, encourages, gives hope. Always be attentive to the other, especially to persons who are poorer and weaker, living and witnessing fraternal love, against every egoism and closure. May your Patron Saint Casimir help you to seek and take Christ without ever tiring. May the maternal presence of Mary be of support to you on this path and my Blessing accompanies you, which I impart to you all, extending it to the whole of Lithuania.
From the Vatican, June 21, 2013[Translation by ZENIT]