"The Gospel Speaks Profoundly to the Young"
Earlier today, B16 greeted a "youth mission" from the archdiocese of Madrid led by the Spanish capital's chief shepherd, the canonist Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela (who somehow popped up in a dream I had right before the 2005 conclave... no joke... but that's neither here nor there).
As you can see, the group -- estimated at about 5,000 -- was so large it couldn't all be contained within the inner courtyard at Castel Gandolfo. So, just as he did after Sunday's Angelus, the Pope went to the external balcony to greet the overflow.
Coming after the testimonies of five representatives of the group, the focus of the Pope's remarks dwelt, yet again, on neither prohibitions nor strictures, but the preeminence of relationship in the Christian's journey....
Full English translation:
Dear brothers and sisters
Dear youth of Madrid!
With great pleasure I receive you today, dear young people who've participated in the "Youth Mission" of the archdiocese of Madrid and the dioceses of its ecclesiastical province. You have come accompanied by Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, whom I thank for the kind words he addressed to me in the name of his Auxiliary Bishops, the Bishops of Getafe and Alcala de Henares and, naturally, from all of you. You've wished to manifest your affection for the Pope, Successor of Peter the Apostle, just as you've given your commitment of giving and service to the Church of Jesus Christ. I give you my most heartfelt welcome and I thank you for your presence here, in such great numbers, and in a special way for all you do as a fruit of this intense experience of the church and of the faith you've lived.
Some of you have just given an expressive testimony of that, which I followed with attention. I appreciated the intensity with which you've lived the missionary state and the color brought to certain facets of your life when you decided to proclaim Christ: the enthusiasm of going out to discover and finding with surprise that, contrary to what many think, the Gospel speaks profoundly to the young; the discovery in all its abundance the ecclesial feeling of the Christian life; the refinement and beauty of a living love and family before the eyes of God, or the discovery of an unexpected call to serve it with your whole being, consecrating yourself in priestly ministry.
Visiting the places where Peter and Paul proclaimed the Gospel, where they gave their lives for the Lord and where many others were similarly persecuted and martyred in the newborn Church, you've become able to understand better why faith in Jesus Christ, which opens the horizons of new life, of authentic freedom and of a limitless hope, needs mission, the push which gives birth to a heart delivered generously to God and to the valiant witness of Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. What happened here, in Rome, many centuries ago, in the midst of an age which didn't know Christ, the only Savior of the human race and of the world; it has happened always, and happens again today, when you look around and see the many who have forgotten or not felt Him, blinded by the many passing dreams that promise much but leave the heart empty.
I encourage you to persevere along the road you've undertaken, letting yourselves be guided by your Pastors, working with them in the exciting task of bringing to your peers the indescribable joy of knowing yourself to be loved by God, that one love that neither fails nor ends. Don't stop cultivating for yourselves this same personal encounter with Christ, keeping it always at the center of your heart, so that the whole of your life will convert itself in this mission; let Christ, who lives in you, be revealed.
As young people, the future is yours to decide. Do so in the light of Christ, ask him "What do you want of me?" and follow the path he leads you along with generosity and trust, knowing that, as the baptized, all of us without distinction are called to holiness and to be living members of the Church in whichever form of life we belong to.
The Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, was presented by the Second Vatican Council as "an example of that maternal love, which behooves that all should be animated who cooperate in the apostolic mission of the Church for the regeneration of men" (Lumen gentium 65). May her motherly intercession accompany you and make you ever faithful to the commitments that, docile to the Holy Spirit, you've taken on for the glory of God and the good of your brothers and sisters. May the Apostolic Blessing, which I impart on you with affection, also be an aid to you.
PHOTO: L'Osservatore Romano