Made public yesterday was the Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World for the Occasion of the 22nd World Youth Day, which is to be celebrated in all dioceses on Palm Sunday, April 1, and has as its theme this year Jesus' words from the Gospel of John: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." The Message is dated January 27, 2007. Ample extracts from the English-language version are given below:
"Love is possible, and the purpose of my message is to help reawaken in each one of you - you who are the future and hope of humanity-, trust in a love that is true, faithful and strong; a love that generates peace and joy; a love that binds people together and allows them to feel free in respect for one another."
"How is God-Love revealed to us? ... In Christ, true God and true Man, we have come to know love in all its magnitude. ... The manifestation of divine love is total and perfect in the Cross. ... Redeemed by His blood, no human life is useless or of little value, because each of us is loved personally by Him with a passionate and faithful love, a love without limits."
"Moreover, the Crucifix, which after the Resurrection would carry forever the marks of His passion, exposes the 'distortions' and lies about God that underlie violence, vengeance and exclusion. Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes upon Himself the sins of the world and eradicates hatred from the heart of humankind. This is the true 'revolution' that He brings about: love."
"Christ cried out from the Cross: 'I am thirsty.' This shows us His burning thirst to love and to be loved by each one of us. It is only by coming to perceive the depth and intensity of such a mystery that we can realize the need and urgency to love Him as He has loved us. ... To love as He loves us means loving everyone without distinction, even our enemies, 'to the end'."
"I would like to linger for a moment on three areas of daily life where you, my dear young friends, are particularly called to demonstrate the love of God. The first area is the Church, our spiritual family. ... You should stimulate, with your enthusiasm and charity, the activities of the parishes, the communities, the ecclesial movements and the youth groups to which you belong. Be attentive in your concern for the welfare of others, faithful to the commitments you have made. Do not hesitate to joyfully abstain from some of your entertainments; cheerfully accept the necessary sacrifices; testify to your faithful love for Jesus by proclaiming His Gospel, especially among young people of your age."
"The second area ... is your preparation for the future that awaits you. If you are engaged to be married, God has a project of love for your future as a couple and as a family. Therefore, it is essential that you discover it with the help of the Church, free from the common prejudice that says that Christianity with its commandments and prohibitions places obstacles to the joy of love and impedes you from fully enjoying the happiness that a man and woman seek in their reciprocal love."
"The period of engagement, very necessary in order to form a couple, is a time of expectation and preparation that needs to be lived in purity of gesture and words. It allows you to mature in love, in concern and in attention for each other; it helps you to practise self-control and to develop your respect for each other. These are the characteristics of true love that does not place emphasis on seeking its own satisfaction or its own welfare. In your prayer together, ask the Lord to watch over and increase your love and to purify it of all selfishness.
"Do not hesitate to respond generously to the Lord's call, for Christian matrimony is truly and wholly a vocation in the Church. Likewise, dear young men and women, be ready to say 'yes' if God should call you to follow the path of ministerial priesthood or the consecrated life. Your example will be one of encouragement for many of your peers who are seeking true happiness."
"The third area of commitment that comes with love is that of daily life with its multiple relationships. I am particularly referring to family, studies, work and free time. ... Develop your capacities, not only in order to become more 'competitive' and 'productive,' but to be 'witnesses of charity.' In addition to your professional training, also make an effort to acquire religious knowledge that will help you to carry out your mission in a responsible way. In particular, I invite you to carefully study the social doctrine of the Church so that its principles may inspire and guide your action in the world."
"My dear young friends, I want to invite you to 'dare to love.' Do not desire anything less for your life than a love that is strong and beautiful and that is capable of making the whole of your existence a joyful undertaking of giving yourselves as a gift to God and your brothers and sisters. ... Love is the only force capable of changing the heart of the human person and of all humanity, by making fruitful the relations between men and women, between rich and poor, between cultures and civilizations. This is shown to us in the lives of the saints. ... Try to know them better, entrust yourselves to their intercession, and strive to live as they did. I shall just mention Mother Teresa. ... The only desire of her life was to quench the thirst of love felt by Jesus, not with words, but with concrete action by recognizing His disfigured countenance thirsting for love in the faces of the poorest of the poor."
"Only the Lord's help will allow us to keep away from resignation when faced with the enormity of the task to be undertaken. It instills in us the courage to accomplish that which is humanly inconceivable. Contact with the Lord in prayer grounds us in humility."
"Above all, the Eucharist is the great school of love. When we participate regularly and with devotion in Holy Mass, when we spend a sustained time of adoration in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it is easier to understand the length, breadth, height and depth of His love that goes beyond all knowledge. By sharing the Eucharistic Bread with our brothers and sisters of the Church community, we feel compelled, like Our Lady with Elizabeth, to render 'in haste' the love of Christ into generous service towards our brothers and sisters."
"The next World Youth Day ... will be an important stage on the way to the meeting in Sydney where the theme will be: 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.' May Mary, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, help you to let that cry ring out everywhere, the cry that has changed the world: 'God is love!' I am together with you all in prayer and extend to you my heartfelt blessing."
The complete message is available here.