A different generation

Youth from Europe also present in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus with Benedict XVI

“Bearing witness with the gentle and luminous strength of truth, so that the men and women of the third millennium be not deprived of the most genuine model: Jesus Christ”: that’s the mandate that Benedict XVI expressly entrusted, at the end of his Angelus, to the 300 delegates of the International Youth Forum, promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who were in St. Peter’s Square on 28 March, Palm Sunday, at the end of their meeting which had opened at Rocca di Papa (near Rome), on 24 March. The theme of the five-day meeting was “Learning to love”. During the Forum the young participants, who represented 93 countries in 5 continents and over 30 Catholic associations, also celebrated the 25th anniversary of World Youth Day. Numerically important was the European presence, some 70 delegates from over 30 countries, without counting the representatives of the various lay movements and associations.Great discoveries. The results of the meeting were summed up by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (PCL) on 27 March. He spoke of the “great discoveries” experienced by the young delegates during the Forum: “the first discovery – he said – was that of true love, even if it is difficult and demanding, because it is founded on giving, for which there is always a price to be paid. Other discoveries were the beauty of marriage, i.e. the love between a man and a woman that Christ consecrates in a sacrament; the beauty of love, which in a radical manner chooses the service of the Church in the priesthood; and the beauty of love that chooses virginity for the Kingdom of God, in order to be a sign of love in this life”. Another discovery, added the Cardinal, “was that of the beauty of being Christians. Today a distorted image of Christianity is diffused by the means of communication: distorted because it is presented as nothing but a set of prohibitions. Christianity is not the mortification of our desire for happiness, but a fascinating project of life”. Among all these discoveries there is one, in particular, and “it’s you”, stressed the President of the PCL, addressing the young. “Through television and the press an image is transmitted of a distorted youth, characterized by deviance, by delinquency. Your presence at this Forum testifies that a different generation is growing up: a generation that has discovered the true sense of life in the person of Jesus Christ. This discovery is particularly precious. Benedict XVI has at times referred to ‘creative minorities’: minorities but the bearers of decisive values for the future. You are a ‘creative minority’, decisive for the future of the world and for the future of the Church”.Trusting in Christ. Basing himself on the experience of the Forum, Cardinal Rylko wished to give some advice to the young: first and foremost, “trust totally in Christ. That is the fundamental choice of our life. Christ does not deprive us of anything beautiful, anything that has value in life: on the contrary, he gives us everything. So we need to trust in Christ. Beware too – the Cardinal warned – of growing old too fast. Don’t let the passion of growth be quenched in you. Be demanding of yourselves. Cherish the great ideals of love and let it truly become the gratuitous gift to others. Fly high, as John Paul II said: don’t be afraid of becoming saints. Educate your freedom: spontaneity is not freedom, because freedom presupposes discernment. And don’t oppose freedom to commitment, because freedom is the ability to commit oneself totally, for the whole of life. Whoever wants to live his own life in this way must know how to be converted every day, how to place himself in question every day before God. Conversion is a gift, but it requires an effort from us. A privileged and indispensable place for this conversion is the sacrament of reconciliation”. The greatest risk. And lastly: “the greatest risk for youth today is loneliness. The Christian community supports us. Alone we are weak; together it’s easier to make discoveries, enjoy the support of others. Dedicate yourself in your communities – urged Cardinal Rylko -, form a ‘network’ with your true friends, because this will be your strength”. “The real work of the Forum begins now, when you are about to return home. I am sure this forum has changed each of you: Jesus through his Word has changed something in you: it’s now up to you to cultivate this seed and share it with others”.

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