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Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: Christus Vivit – Chapter Five

26 April 2019
Diocese of Parramatta pilgrims at the World Youth Day 2019 Vigil in Panama City. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

 

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation

CHRISTUS VIVIT

of the Holy Father

FRANCIS

to Young People and to the entire People of God

1. CHRIST IS ALIVE! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!

2. He is in you, he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope.

3. With great affection, I address this Apostolic Exhortation to all Christian young people. It is meant to remind you of certain convictions born of our faith, and at the same time to encourage you to grow in holiness and in commitment to your personal vocation. But since it is also part of a synodal process, I am also addressing this message to the entire People of God, pastors and faithful alike, since all of us are challenged and urged to reflect both on the young and for the young. Consequently, I will speak to young people directly in some places, while in others I will propose some more general considerations for the Church’s discernment.

4. I have let myself be inspired by the wealth of reflections and conversations that emerged from last year’s Synod. I cannot include all those contributions here, but you can read them in the Final Document. In writing this letter, though, I have attempted to summarize those proposals I considered most significant. In this way, my words will echo the myriad voices of believers the world over who made their opinions known to the Synod. Those young people who are not believers, yet wished to share their thoughts, also raised issues that led me to ask new questions.

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

Paths of youth

134. What does it mean to live the years of our youth in the transforming light of the Gospel? We need to raise this question, because youth, more than a source of pride, is a gift of God: “To be young is a grace, a blessing”.71 (71 SAINT PAUL VI, Address for the Beatification of Nunzio Sulprizio (1 December 1963): AAS 56 (1964), 28.) It is a gift that we can squander meaninglessly, or receive with gratitude and live to the full.

135. God is the giver of youth and he is at work in the life of each young person. Youth is a blessed time for the young and a grace for the Church and for the world. It is joy, a song of hope and a blessing. Making the most of our youthful years entails seeing this season of life as worthwhile in itself, and not simply as a brief prelude to adulthood.

A time of dreams and decisions

136. In Jesus’ day, the passage from childhood was a significant step in life, one joyfully celebrated. When Jesus restored life to a man’s daughter, he first called her a “child” (Mk 5:39), but then addressed her as a “young girl” (Mk 5:41). By saying to her: “Young girl, get up (talitha cum)”, he made her more responsible for her life, opening before her the door to youth.

137. “Youth, as a phase in the development of the personality, is marked by dreams which gather momentum, by relationships which acquire more and more consistency and balance, by trials and experiments, and by choices which gradually build a life project. At this stage in life, the young are called to move forward without cutting themselves off from their roots, to build autonomy but not in solitude”.72 (72 FD 65.)

138. The love of God and our relationship with the living Christ do not hold us back from dreaming; they do not require us to narrow our horizons. On the contrary, that love elevates us, encourages us and inspires us to a better and more beautiful life. Much of the longing present in the hearts of young people can be summed up in the word “restlessness”. As Saint Paul VI said, “In the very discontent that you often feel… a ray of light is present”.73 (73 Homily at Mass with Young People in Sydney (2 December 1970): AAS 63 (1971), 64.) Restless discontent, combined with exhilaration before the opening up of new horizons, generates a boldness that leads you to stand up and take responsibility for a mission. This healthy restlessness typical of youth continues to dwell in every heart that remains young, open and generous. True inner peace coexists with that profound discontent. As Saint Augustine said: “You have created us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you”.74 (74 Confessions, I, 1, 1: PL 32, 661.)

139. Sometime ago, a friend asked me what I see in a young person. My response was that “I see someone who is searching for his own path, who wants to fly on his two feet, who faces the world and looks at the horizon with eyes full of the future, full of hope as well as illusions. A young person stands on two feet as adults do, but unlike adults, whose feet are parallel, he always has one foot forward, ready to set out, to spring ahead. Always racing onward. To talk about young people is to talk about promise and to talk about joy. Young people have so much strength; they are able to look ahead with hope. A young person is a promise of life that implies a certain degree of tenacity. He is foolish enough to delude himself, and resilient enough to recover from that delusion”.75 (75 God is Young. A Conversation with Thomas Leoncini, New York, Random House, 2018, 4.)

140. Some young people might hate this stage of life, because they want to continue being children or indefinitely prolong their adolescence and put off having to make decisions. “Fear of the definitive thus generates a kind of paralysis of decision-making. Yet youth cannot remain on hold. It is the age of choices and herein lies its fascination and its greatest responsibility. Young people make decisions in professional, social and political fields, and in other more radical ways that determine the shape of their lives”.76 (76 FD 68.) They also make decisions about love, choosing a spouse and starting a family. We will look at these issues more closely in the final chapters, when dealing with individual vocations and their discernment.

141. But opposed to these hopes and dreams that generate decisions, there is always the temptation to complain or give up. “We can leave that to those who worship the ‘goddess of lament’… She is a false goddess: she makes you take the wrong road. When everything seems to be standing still and stagnant, when our personal issues trouble us, and social problems do not meet with the right responses, it does no good to give up. Jesus is the way: welcome him into your ‘boat’ and put out into the deep! He is the Lord! He changes the way we see life. Faith in Jesus leads to greater hope, to a certainty based not on our qualities and skills, but on the word of God, on the invitation that comes from him. Without making too many human calculations, and without worrying about things that challenge your security, put out into the deep. Go out of yourselves”.77 (77 Meeting with Young People in Cagliari (22 September 2013): AAS 105 (2013), 904-905.)

142. Keep following your hopes and dreams. But be careful about one temptation that can hold us back. It is anxiety. Anxiety can work against us by making us give up whenever we do not see instant results. Our best dreams are only attained through hope, patience and commitment, and not in haste. At the same time, we should not be hesitant, afraid to take chances or make mistakes. Avoid the paralysis of the living dead, who have no life because they are afraid to take risks, to make mistakes or to persevere in their commitments. Even if you make mistakes, you can always get up and start over, for no one has the right to rob you of hope.

143. Dear young people, make the most of these years of your youth. Don’t observe life from a balcony. Don’t confuse happiness with an armchair, or live your life behind a screen. Whatever you do, do not become the sorry sight of an abandoned vehicle! Don’t be parked cars, but dream freely and make good decisions. Take risks, even if it means making mistakes. Don’t go through life anesthetized or approach the world like tourists. Make a ruckus! Cast out the fears that paralyze you, so that you don’t become young mummies. Live! Give yourselves over to the best of life! Open the door of the cage, go out and fly! Please, don’t take an early retirement.

A thirst for life and experience

144. While drawn towards the future and its promise, young people also have a powerful desire to experience the present moment, to make the most of the opportunities life offers. Our world is filled with beauty! How can we look down upon God’s many gifts?

145. Contrary to what many people think, the Lord does not want to stifle these desires for a fulfilling life. We do well to remember the words of an Old Testament sage: “My child, treat yourself well, according to your means, and present your offerings to the Lord; do not deprive yourself of a day’s enjoyment, do not let your share of desired goods pass by” (Sir 14:11.14). The true God, who loves you, wants you to be happy. For this reason, the Bible also contains this piece of advice to young people: “Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth… banish anxiety from your mind” (Ec 11:9-10). For God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17).

146. How could God take pleasure in someone incapable of enjoying his small everyday blessings, someone blind to the simple pleasures we find all around us? “No one is worse than one who is grudging to himself” (Sir 14:6). Far from obsessively seeking new pleasures, which would keep us from making the most of the present moment, we are asked to open our eyes and take a moment to experience fully and with gratitude every one of life’s little gifts.

147. Clearly, God’s word asks you to enjoy the present, not simply to prepare for the future: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own; today’s trouble is enough for today” (Mt 6:34). But this is not the same as embarking irresponsibly on a life of dissipation that can only leave us empty and perpetually dissatisfied. Rather, it is about living the present to the full, spending our energies on good things, cultivating fraternity, following Jesus and making the most of life’s little joys as gifts of God’s love.

148. Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, when imprisoned in a concentration camp, refused to do nothing but await the day when he would be set free. He chose “to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love”. He decided: “I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way”.78 (78 Five Loaves and Two Fish, Pauline Books and Media, 2003, pp. 9, 13.) As you work to achieve your dreams, make the most of each day and do your best to let each moment brim with love. This youthful day may well be your last, and so it is worth the effort to live it as enthusiastically and fully as possible.

149. This can also be applied to times of difficulty, that have to be fully experienced if we are to learn the message they can teach us. In the words of the Swiss Bishops: “God is there where we thought he had abandoned us and there was no further hope of salvation. It is a paradox, but for many Christians, suffering and darkness have become… places of encounter with God”.79 (79 CONFÉRENCE DES ÉVÊQUES SUISSES, Prendre le temps: pour toi, pour moi, pour nous, 2 February 2018.) The desire to live fully and experience new things is also felt by many young people with physical, mental and sensory disabilities. Even though they may not always be able to have the same experiences as others, they possess amazing resources and abilities that are often far above average. The Lord Jesus grants them other gifts, which the community is called to recognize and appreciate, so that they can discover his plan of love for each of them.

In friendship with Christ

150. No matter how much you live the experience of these years of your youth, you will never know their deepest and fullest meaning unless you encounter each day your best friend, the friend who is Jesus.

151. Friendship is one of life’s gifts and a grace from God. Through our friends, the Lord refines us and leads us to maturity. Faithful friends, who stand at our side in times of difficulty, are also a reflection of the Lord’s love, his gentle and consoling presence in our lives. The experience of friendship teaches us to be open, understanding and caring towards others, to come out of our own comfortable isolation and to share our lives with others. For this reason, “there is nothing so precious as a faithful friend” (Sir 6:15).

152. Friendship is no fleeting or temporary relationship, but one that is stable, firm and faithful, and matures with the passage of time. A relationship of affection that brings us together and a generous love that makes us seek the good of our friend. Friends may be quite different from one another, but they always have things in common that draw them closer in mutual openness and trust.80 (80 Cf. SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 23, art. 1.)

153. Friendship is so important that Jesus calls himself a friend: “I do not call you servants any longer, but I call you friends” (Jn 15:15). By the gift of his grace, we are elevated in such a way that we truly become his friends. With the same love that Christ pours out on us, we can love him in turn and share his love with others, in the hope that they too will take their place in the community of friendship he established. And even as he enjoys the complete bliss of the life of the resurrection, we, for our part, can work generously to help him build his kingdom in this world, by bringing his message, his light, and above all his love, to others (cf. Jn 15:16). The disciples heard Jesus calling them to be his friends. It was an invitation that did not pressure them, but gently appealed to their freedom. “Come and see”, Jesus told them; so “they came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day” (Jn 1:39). After that unexpected and moving encounter, they left everything and followed him.

154. Friendship with Jesus cannot be broken. He never leaves us, even though at times it appears that he keeps silent. When we need him, he makes himself known to us (cf. Jer 29:14); he remains at our side wherever we go (cf. Jos 1:9). He never breaks his covenant. He simply asks that we not abandon him: “Abide in me” (Jn 15:4). But even if we stray from him, “he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13).

155. With a friend, we can speak and share our deepest secrets. With Jesus too, we can always have a conversation. Prayer is both a challenge and an adventure. And what an adventure it is! Gradually Jesus makes us appreciate his grandeur and draw nearer to him. Prayer enables us to share with him every aspect of our lives and to rest confidently in his embrace. At the same time, it gives us a share in his own life and love. When we pray, “we open everything we do” to him, and we give him room “so that he can act, enter and claim victory”.81 (81 Address to the Volunteers of the XXXIV World Youth Day in Panama (27 January 2019): L’Osservatore Romano, 28-29 January 2019, 11.)

156. In this way, we can experience a constant closeness to him, greater than anything we can experience with another person: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Do not deprive your youth of this friendship. You will be able to feel him at your side not only when you pray, but at every moment. Try to look for him, and you will have the beautiful experience of seeing that he is always at your side. That is what the disciples of Emmaus experienced when, as they walked along dejectedly, Jesus “drew near and walked with them” (Lk 24:15). In the words of a saint, “Christianity is not a collection of truths to be believed, rules to be followed, or prohibitions. Seen that way, it puts us off. Christianity is a person who loved me immensely, who demands and asks for my love. Christianity is Christ”.82 (82 SAINT OSCAR ROMERO, Homily (6 November 1977), in Su Pensamiento, I-II, San Salvador, 2000, p. 312.)

157. Jesus can bring all the young people of the Church together in a single dream, “a great dream, a dream with a place for everyone. The dream for which Jesus gave his life on the cross, for which the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost and brought fire to the heart of every man and woman, to your heart and mine. To your heart too, he brought that fire, in the hope of finding room for it to grow and flourish. A dream whose name is Jesus, planted by the Father in the confidence that it would grow and live in every heart. A concrete dream who is a person, running through our veins, thrilling our hearts and making them dance”.83 (83 Address at the Opening of the XXXIV World Youth Day in Panama (24 January 2019): L’Osservatore Romano, 26 January 2019, 12.)

Growth in maturity

158. Many young people are concerned about their bodies, trying to build up physical strength or improve their appearance. Others work to develop their talents and knowledge, so as to feel more sure of themselves. Some aim higher, seeking to become more involved and to grow spiritually. Saint John said: “I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you” (1 Jn 2:14). Seeking the Lord, keeping his word, entrusting our life to him and growing in the virtues: all these things make young hearts strong. That is why you need to stay connected with Jesus, to “remain online” with him, since you will not grow happy and holy by your own efforts and intelligence alone. Just as you try not to lose your connection to the internet, make sure that you stay connected with the Lord. That means not cutting off dialogue, listening to him, sharing your life with him and, whenever you aren’t sure what you should do, asking him: “Jesus what would you do in my place?”.84 (84 Cf. Meeting with Young People in the National Shrine of Maipú, Santiago de Chile (17 January 2018): L’Osservatore Romano, 19 January 2018, 7.)

159. I hope that you will be serious enough about yourself to make an effort to grow spiritually. Along with all the other exciting things about youth, there is also the beauty of seeking “righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Tim 2:22). This does not involve losing anything of your spontaneity, boldness, enthusiasm and tenderness. Becoming an adult does not mean you have to abandon what is best about this stage of your lives. If you do, the Lord may one day reproach you: “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, and how you followed me in the wilderness” (Jer 2:2).

160. Adults, too, have to mature without losing the values of youth. Every stage of life is a permanent grace, with its own enduring value. The experience of a youth well lived always remains in our heart. It continues to grow and bear fruit throughout adulthood. Young people are naturally attracted by an infinite horizon opening up before them.85 (85 Cf. ROMANO GUARDINI, Die Lebensalter. Ihre ethische und pädagogische Bedeutung, Würzburg, 3rd ed., 1955, 20.) Adult life, with its securities and comforts, can risk shrinking that horizon and losing that youthful excitement. The very opposite should happen: as we mature, grow older and structure our lives, we should never lose that enthusiasm and openness to an ever greater reality. At every moment in life, we can renew our youthfulness. When I began my ministry as Pope, the Lord broadened my horizons and granted me renewed youth. The same thing can happen to a couple married for many years, or to a monk in his monastery. There are things we need to “let go of” as the years pass, but growth in maturity can coexist with a fire constantly rekindled, with a heart ever young.

161. Growing older means preserving and cherishing the most precious things about our youth, but it also involves having to purify those things that are not good and receiving new gifts from God so we can develop the things that really matter. At times, a certain inferiority complex can make you overlook your flaws and weaknesses, but that can hold you back from growth in maturity. Instead, let yourself be loved by God, for he loves you just as you are. He values and respects you, but he also keeps offering you more: more of his friendship, more fervour in prayer, more hunger for his word, more longing to receive Christ in the Eucharist, more desire to live by his Gospel, more inner strength, more peace and spiritual joy.

162. But I would also remind you that you won’t become holy and find fulfilment by copying others. Imitating the Saints does not mean copying their lifestyle and their way of living holiness: “there are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us”.86 (86 Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (19 March 2018), 11.) You have to discover who you are and develop your own way of being holy, whatever others may say or think. Becoming a saint means becoming more fully yourself, becoming what the Lord wished to dream and create, and not a photocopy. Your life ought to be a prophetic stimulus to others and leave a mark on this world, the unique mark that only you can leave. Whereas if you simply copy someone else, you will deprive this earth, and heaven too, of something that no one else can offer. I think of Saint John of the Cross, who wrote in his Spiritual Canticle that everyone should benefit from his spiritual advice “in his or her own way”,87 (87 Spiritual Canticle, Red. B, Prologue, 2.) for the one God wishes to manifest his grace “to some in one way and to others in another”.88 (88 Ibid., XIV-XV, 2.)

Paths of fraternity

163. Your spiritual growth is expressed above all by your growth in fraternal, generous and merciful love. Saint Paul prayed: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all” (1 Thes 3:12). How wonderful it would be to experience this “ecstasy” of coming out of ourselves and seeking the good of others, even to the sacrifice of our lives.

164. When an encounter with God is called an “ecstasy”, it is because it takes us out of ourselves, lifts us up and overwhelms us with God’s love and beauty. Yet we can also experience ecstasy when we recognize in others their hidden beauty, their dignity and their grandeur as images of God and children of the Father. The Holy Spirit wants to make us come out of ourselves, to embrace others with love and to seek their good. That is why it is always better to live the faith together and to show our love by living in community and sharing with other young people our affection, our time, our faith and our troubles. The Church offers many different possibilities for living our faith in community, for everything is easier when we do it together.

165. Hurts you have experienced might tempt you to withdraw from others, to turn in on yourself and to nurse feelings of anger, but never stop listening to God’s call to forgiveness. The Bishops of Rwanda put it well: “In order to reconcile with another person, you must first of all be able to see the goodness in that person, the goodness God created him with… This requires great effort to distinguish the offence from the offender; it means you hate the offence the person has committed, but you love the person despite his weakness, because in him you see the image of God”.89 (89 EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF RWANDA, Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Rwanda for Christians in the Extraordinary Year of Reconciliation, Kigali (18 January 2018), 17.)

166. There are times when all our youthful energy, dreams and enthusiasm can flag because we are tempted to dwell on ourselves and our problems, our hurt feelings and our grievances. Don’t let this happen to you! You will grow old before your time. Each age has its beauty, and the years of our youth need to be marked by shared ideals, hopes and dreams, great horizons that we can contemplate together.

167. God loves the joy of young people. He wants them especially to share in the joy of fraternal communion, the sublime joy felt by those who share with others, for “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). Fraternal love multiplies our ability to experience joy, since it makes us rejoice in the good of others: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15). May your youthful spontaneity increasingly find expression in fraternal love and a constant readiness to forgive, to be generous, and to build community. As an African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, walk by yourself. If you want to go far, walk with others”. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of fraternity.

Young and committed

168. At times, seeing a world so full of violence and selfishness, young people can be tempted to withdraw into small groups, shunning the challenges and issues posed by life in society and in the larger world. They may feel that they are experiencing fraternity and love, but their small group may in fact become nothing other than an extension of their own ego. This is even more serious if they think of the lay vocation simply as a form of service inside the Church: serving as lectors, acolytes, catechists and so forth. They forget that the lay vocation is directed above all to charity within the family and to social and political charity. It is a concrete and faith-based commitment to the building of a new society. It involves living in the midst of society and the world in order to bring the Gospel everywhere, to work for the growth of peace, harmony, justice, human rights and mercy, and thus for the extension of God’s kingdom in this world.

169. I ask young people to go beyond their small groups and to build “social friendship, where everyone works for the common good. Social enmity, on the other hand, is destructive. Families are destroyed by enmity. Countries are destroyed by enmity. The world is destroyed by enmity. And the greatest enmity of all is war. Today we see that the world is destroying itself by war… So find ways of building social friendship”.90 (90 Greeting to Young People of the Father Félix Varela Cultural Centre in Havana (20 September 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 21-22 September 2015, 6.) It is not easy, it always means having to give something up and to negotiate, but if we do it for the sake of helping others, we can have the magnificent experience of setting our differences aside and working together for something greater. If, as a result of our own simple and at times costly efforts, we can find points of agreement amid conflict, build bridges and make peace for the benefit of all, then we will experience the miracle of the culture of encounter. This is something which young people can dare to pursue with passion.

170. The Synod recognized that “albeit in a different way from earlier generations, social commitment is a specific feature of today’s young people. Alongside some who are indifferent, there are many others who are ready to commit themselves to initiatives of volunteer work, active citizenship and social solidarity. They need to be accompanied and encouraged to use their talents and skills creatively, and to be encouraged to take up their responsibilities. Social engagement and direct contact with the poor remain fundamental ways of finding or deepening one’s faith and the discernment of one’s vocation… It was also noted that the young are prepared to enter political life so as to build the common good”.91 (91 FD 46.)

171. Today, thank God, many young people in parishes, schools, movements and university groups often go out to spend time with the elderly and the infirm, or to visit poor neighbourhoods, or to meet people’s needs through “nights of charity”. Very often, they come to realize that there they receive much more than what they give. We grow in wisdom and maturity when we take the time to touch the suffering of others. The poor have a hidden wisdom and, with a few simple words, they can help us discover unexpected values.

172. Other young people take part in social programs that build houses for the homeless, or reclaim contaminated areas or offer various kinds of assistance to the needy. It would be helpful if this shared energy could be channelled and organized in a more stable way and with clear goals, so as to be even more effective. University students can apply their knowledge in an interdisciplinary way, together with young people of other churches or religions, in order to propose solutions to social problems.

173. As in the miracle of Jesus, the bread and the fish provided by young people can multiply (cf. Jn 6:4-13). As in the parable, the small seeds sown by young people can yield a rich harvest (cf. Mt 13:23.31-32). All of this has its living source in the Eucharist, in which our bread and our wine are transformed to grant us eternal life. Young people face immense and difficult challenges. With faith in the risen Lord, they can confront them with creativity and hope, ever ready to be of service, like the servants in the wedding feast, who unknowingly cooperated in Jesus’ first miracle. They did nothing more than follow the order of his Mother. “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mercy, creativity and hope make life grow.

174. I want to encourage all of you in this effort, because I know that “your young hearts want to build a better world. I have been following news reports of the many young people throughout the world who have taken to the streets to express the desire for a more just and fraternal society. Young people taking to the streets! The young want to be protagonists of change. Please, do not leave it to others to be protagonists of change. You are the ones who hold the future! Through you, the future enters into the world. I ask you also to be protagonists of this transformation. You are the ones who hold the key to the future! Continue to fight apathy and to offer a Christian response to the social and political troubles emerging in different parts of the world. I ask you to build the future, to work for a better world. Dear young people, please, do not be bystanders in life. Get involved! Jesus was not a bystander. He got involved. Don’t stand aloof, but immerse yourselves in the reality of life, as Jesus did”.92 (92 Address at the Vigil of the XXVIII World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro (27 July 2013): AAS 105 (2013), 663.) Above all, in one way or another, fight for the common good, serve the poor, be protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism.

Courageous missionaries

175. Filled with the love of Christ, young people are called to be witnesses of the Gospel wherever they find themselves, by the way they live. Saint Alberto Hurtado once said that “being an apostle does not mean wearing a lapel pin; it is not about speaking about the truth but living it, embodying it, being transformed in Christ. Being an apostle does not mean carrying a torch in hand, possessing the light, but being that light… The Gospel, more than a lesson, is an example. A message that becomes a life fully lived”.93 (93 Ustedes son la luz del mundo. Address in Cerro San Cristóbal, Chile, 1940. The text can be found at: https://www.padrealbertohurtado.cl/escritos-2/.)

176. The importance of witness does not mean that we should be silent about the word. Why should we not speak of Jesus, why should we not tell others that he gives us strength in life, that we enjoy talking with him, that we benefit from meditating on his words? Young people, do not let the world draw you only into things that are wrong and superficial. Learn to swim against the tide, learn how to share Jesus and the faith he has given you. May you be moved by that same irresistible impulse that led Saint Paul to say: “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)!

177. “Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us everywhere. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away and most indifferent. The Lord seeks all; he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love”.94 (94 Homily at the Mass for the XXVIII World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro (28 July 2013): AAS 105 (2013), 665.) He invites us to be fearless missionaries wherever we are and in whatever company we find ourselves: in our neighbourhoods, in school or sports or social life, in volunteer service or in the workplace. Wherever we are, we always have an opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel. That is how the Lord goes out to meet everyone. He loves you, dear young people, for you are the means by which he can spread his light and hope. He is counting on your courage, your boldness and your enthusiasm.

178. Don’t think that this mission is soft and easy. Some young people have given their lives for the sake of missionary outreach. As the Korean bishops put it: “we hope that we can be grains of wheat and instruments for the salvation of humanity, following upon the example of the martyrs. Though our faith is as small as a mustard seed, God will give it growth and use it as an instrument for his work of salvation”.95 (95 CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF KOREA, Pastoral Letter on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Martyrdom during the Byeong-in Persecution (30 March 2016).) Young friends, don’t wait until tomorrow to contribute your energy, your audacity and your creativity to changing our world. Your youth is not an “in-between time”. You are the now of God, and he wants you to bear fruit.96 (96 Cf. Homily at Mass, XXXIV World Youth Day in Panama (27 January 2018): L’Osservatore Romano, 28-29 January 2019, 12.) For “it is in giving that we receive”.97 (97 “Lord, make me a channel of your peace”, prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi.) The best way to prepare a bright future is to experience the present as best we can, with commitment and generosity.

 

Given in Loreto, at the Shrine of the Holy House, on 25 March, Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the year 2019, the seventh of my Pontificate.

 

Franciscus

 

 

Chapter Six will be published on Monday.

 

To view Chapter Four, click here.

To view Chapter Three, click here.

To view Chapter Two, click here.

To view Chapter One, click here.

 

With thanks to the Vatican.

 

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