Pope Benedict XVI's message to young people

Pope Benedict XVI's message to young people

Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI: And only where God is seen Does life truly begin Only when we meet the living God in Christ Do we know what life is We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution Each of us is the result of a thought of God Each of us willed Each of us loved Each of us is necessary There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel By the encounter with Christ There is nothing more beautiful Than to know him and to speak to others of friendship of Him Opening remarks... When the Pope meets the Queen in Britain, who is head of the State, and who is the head of the Church? Answer: they are both (Queen is head of State and Church of England and Pope is head of Vatican City and Catholic Church). I heard a story that he once said when he was head of the Congregation for the Faith, that if he didn't read a negative story in the newspaper about him at least once a month he would have to examine his conscience. Perhaps the best story is that he loves cats. Once about ten cats followed him into the Vatican and one of the Swiss Guards intervened, "Look your eminence, the cats are invading the Holy See!" Pope Benedict did not really want to be Pope. He would rather spend his retirement reading books quietly in academic life than challenging the ubiquitous tentacles of secularism. But God has called him to this noble table, which he has responded to as a humble worker in the vineyard and with a Shepherd's heart. I will never forget the moment watching live on Sky news how he was quickly elected as the new Pope and his name was read out from the balcony of St Peter's: “Habemus Papem!” Some critical public commentators have mentioned the that he is similar to the Emperor from Star Wars- but this could not further from the truth. His personality is more shy, reserved and rigorously intellectual, not to mention benevolent! He also likes to wear hats of all varieties. Who is Pope Benedict XVI? These are some of the ways I have been inspired by the life of Pope Benedict in the last 5 years....

1/ Reading his excellent book on Jesus of Nazareth: A scholarly piece of the life of Jesus. He wasn't afraid to publish it unfinished. 2/ Seeing him at Cologne for World Youth Day in 2005: an exciting event with young people from all around the world. 3/ Reading some really great Encyclicals, including Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi and Caritas in Veritate. 4/ Hearing of his travels to Australia, Brazil, Spain, Malta, Germany, Turkey, Austria, United States, France, Poland, Cameroon, Angola, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories and the Czech Republic. 5/ Reading of his audiences and addresses on ZENIT and from other sources. 6/ Being inspired by his witness, humility, service and courage in the face of adversity. Pope Benedict XVI is a scholar and a statesman. As a gifted academic, he has written many books pointing people towards the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith and towards an encounter with Christ. As a Bishop he has been a guardian of the flock entrusted to his care with diligence, prudence and loving concern. As Pope, he has produced wonderful writings on love, hope and truth, travelled around the world despite his age and health. He has shown countless acts of charity towards thousands of people, carried his ministry out to the greatest degree of professionalism and continues to teach and preach the Gospel. This is why I think he is a remarkable man. Despite the many attempts to blight his ministry, he continues to serve. Viva el papa! The coat of arms of Pope Benedict On Pope Benedict's coat of arms is St Corbinian's Bear. The bear is tied to an old Bavarian legend about St Corbinian. He was the first Bishop and patron saint of the Diocese of Freising. One day, he was on the way to Rome. A bear attacked and killed his horse. St Corbinian decided to punish the bear by making it carry his luggage the rest of the way to Rome. The bear is a symbol of the beast "Tamed by the grace of God," and the pack he is carrying symbolizes "The weight of the episcopate" according to the then Cardinal Ratzinger in his autobiography. "The bear with the pack, which replaced the horse or, more probably, St Corbinian's mule, becoming, against, his will, his pack animal, was that not, and is not an image of what I should be and of what I am?" said the Cardinal in his book. The bear's submission and retreat can also be interpreted as Christianity's "taming" and "domestication" of the ferocity of paganism and the laying of a great civilization in the Duchy of Bavaria." Read more about Pope Benedict's Coat of Arms here. Some of the world's problems: The use of the resources of the earth and respect for the ecology, the just division of goods and the control of financial mechanisms, solidarity with poor countries in the ambit of the human family, the struggle against hunger in the world, the promotion of the dignity of human labor, service to the culture of life, the building of peace between peoples, the interreligious dialogue, the good use of the social means of communication. Pope Benedict's message to young people is: Make sense of your life by following Jesus Christ, respond to Christ love with offering your life with love and make a plan for your life. 1. Make sense of your life by following Jesus Christ

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Respond to Christ's love with offering your life with love. Make a plan for your life. Render God credible

1/ Make Sense of your life by following Jesus Christ. I exhort the young people present in this forum to search with all their heart to discover their vocation to love, as persons and as baptized. This is the key to the whole of existence. To young people: The stage of life in which you are immersed is a time of discovery: of the gifts that God has lavished on you and of your responsibilities. It is, moreover, a time of fundamental choices to build your plan of life. It is the moment, therefore, to ask yourselves about the authentic meaning of existence and to ask yourselves: "Am I satisfied with my life? Is there something lacking?" (http://www.zenit.org/article-28644?l=english) Prayer and Study both necessary Man must open himself to the wisdom that comes from the Gospel, particularly in a society where knowledge becomes increasingly specialized and segregated. Man is incapable of fully understanding themselves and the world without Jesus Christ, the Holy Father stated. The years of higher education can be compared to the experience that the Apostles had living with Jesus: with Him they learned Truth, and only then they became preachers of the Gospel. "Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church's liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ's disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free." - Pope Benedict XVI April 19, 2008. To young people: (Malta, Gozo) 'Every personal encounter with Jesus is an overwhelming experience of love...God loves everyone of us with a depth and intensity that we can hardly begin to imagine. And he knows us intimately, he knows all our strengths and our faults. Because he loves us so much, he wants to purify us of our faults and build up our virtues so that we can have life in abundance. When he challenges us it is because something in our lives is displeasing to him, he is not rejecting us but asking us to change and become more perfect...God rejects no-one. Yet in his great love, God challenges all of us to change and become more perfect.' "The resurrection of Christ assures us that no adverse power will ever be able to destroy the Church." Pope Benedict XVI. Portugal 2010. On the educational Crisis He noted that there is a educational crisis at present in the failure to transmit certainties and values to future generations. This crisis is in heart a crisis of trust in life. Parents have become unsure of their role as educators and blurred about what values they should transmit. But he states that Christians should not be afraid because we have a God who does not abandon us, and his love reaches us in our wretchedness and weakness, able to create new possibilities for good. With both our freedom and responsibility, we should find a right balance to use discipline, in order that we do not raise brittle and ungenerous people, who have been shielded from suffering. Be aware of the Spiritual Desert

Pope Benedict writes....“The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns in a desperate search for meaning – the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity’s sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.” Be a creative minority: "I would say that usually it is creative minorities who determine the future, and in this regard the Catholic Church must understand that she is a creative minority who has a heritage of values that are not things of the past, but a very lively and relevant reality. The Church must modernize, she must be present in the public debate." 2/ Make sense of your life by following the teaching Jesus Christ... Those who live comfortable lives are sad and unfulfilled.. “History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions.” Respond to Christ's love with offering your life with love. Christ and how he speaks to us every day. If Jesus is with us, time is not without meaning or empty, according to Pope Benedict. (Advent reflection). Christianity not primarily a morality, but an experience of Jesus Christ. On Vocation St Therese of Lisieux: my vocation is love! Maybe a vocation to the Priesthood: Cure of Ars: “The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.” The Cure was well aware of the most important role of Priesthood. He said, "Oh! How great is the Priesthood! It can be properly understood only in Heaven... if one were to understand it on this earth one would die, not of fright but of love!" (Abbé Monnin, Esprit du Curé d'Ars, p. 113). As a little boy he told his mother, "If I were to become a priest, I would like to win many souls" (Abbé Monnin, Procès de l'ordinaire, p. 1064). On Priests: “Alter Christus, the priest is profoundly united to the Word of the Father, who in incarnating himself, has taken the form of a slave, has made himself a slave (cf. Philippians 2:5-11). The priest is a slave of Christ in the sense that his existence, ontologically configured to Christ, takes on an essentially relational character: He is in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ at the service of man. Precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of all people: He is the minister of their salvation, of their happiness, of their authentic liberation -- maturing, in this progressive taking up of the will of Christ, in prayer, in this "remaining heart to heart" with him. This is therefore the essential condition of all proclamation, which implies participation in the sacramental offering of the Eucharist and docile obedience to the Church. The holy Curé d'Ars often repeated with tears in his eyes: "What a frightening thing to be a priest!" And he added: "How we ought to pity a priest who celebrates Mass as if he were engaged in something routine. How wretched is a priest without interior life!" On Eros and Agape

Pope Benedict reflects on the Christian concept of love in his first encyclical. He emphasises the centrality of love in the Christian tradition, showing how God loves us and we must respond to his love. He first analyses an understanding of the word love by society. Love is an often misused word towards many aspects of our lives, but above all it is the love between man and woman that is the most common expression of love and the potential of union with another person that we can have great happiness. Benedict then looks at Eros (a Greek word for love) in history. Contrary to modern philosophy, Christianity does not pervert and poison eros but purifies it and restores it to full grandeur, protecting man from falling into degradation. Eros has the potential of giving man an intense happiness and glimpse of the divine and an intoxication of love. However this passion if left totally uncontrolled can become warped and destructive. This can lead to the exploitation of man and it can dehumanise us. Only the unity of the body and soul can ensure that man is fully in touch with himself. Agape is love grounded and shaped by faith. It is an example of concern for the other. Love allows us to be fully human and outward looking. The Biblical understanding of love is characterised is many different ways. For Hosea and Ezekiel, metaphors of marriage between God and man were used to describe love. The Song of songs represents a intense desire of two lovers, like a love song. It is through the Torah that man is shown his full nature and a path of faith that lets him discover himself. Moses seeks dialogue with God so that he can fully be at the service of his people and though Israel sins many times God is willing through his love to forgive his people. A passionate authentic love is also willing to forgive. Adam receives a helper, Eve who completes his humanity. This relationship between man and woman is an image of the relationship between God and his people. It is God’s way of loving that can be the only comparison for human love and our love only comes in a response to how he has first loved us. The Bible calls for a close connection between eros and marriage. Jesus Christ shows us love in the most radical form, primarily in an act of oblation of the Crucifixion where God offered his very self. Christ raises up a suffering and lost mankind by offering himself to others. Jesus is the incarnate love of God. Love is a single reality, but it can have many different forms. There is an intrinsic desire for love within man that makes him a fully integrated human being. In it we find joy in truth and righteousness. Unity with the Lord leads to being one spirit with him and we must share this love and not take it for ourselves. If we love God we must love our neighbour otherwise any love for God is inauthentic. Jesus lifts love into a universal principle as we must be in communion with him and we must recognise all of humanity as our neighbour. Love can blossom due to its mysterious and gratuitous nature, it has a sense of being eternal but never finished or complete, it also can change and mature over time. Mere sentiment however cannot be compared to love. Above all love grows with community and through others as it can only be fully realised in relationships and not inward looking. An acknowledgement of God can lead us to love him and through seeing an image of God in others we can begin on a journey towards loving them.

Pope Benedict reflects on eros and agape in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (DCE). Eros is the love that is sexual yearning or an intense desire, which is experienced between man and woman. It is a love between two humans and its appearance can be mysterious, unexpected and sudden. Eros is an intense madness, leading to supreme happiness. According to Greek culture, eros offered fellowship with the divine, through ecstasy. Erotic love is most fully and adequately expressed in marriage according to Christian tradition. For love to mature past searching it must be exclusive and eternal. In this way, eros should direct man towards marriage. Eros calls us towards the divine because it calls us to make a gift of ourselves to others. If eros is improperly used it leads to using other people for the sake of gratification.

Benedict mentions that “Eros, reduced to pure ‘sex’, has become a commodity, a mere ‘thing’ to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity.” (DCE 5). A strictly hedonistic understanding of eros strips humanity of its dignity, as it enslaves us to our passions, only following our instincts and desires. Benedict states that eros should be subject to purification, growth, renunciation and healing. (DCE 5). By having a healthy sense of self control, purity and dignity, erotic love can be restored to its full grandeur. This is because purity does not annihilate erotic desire, it perfects it. God is what man yearns for and the Song of Songs perfectly exemplifies the desire that man has in his search for union with God. The Church has been accused of reducing and distorting eros, at certain times unhealthy attitudes towards eros have existed. Benedict quotes Nietzsche who accused the Christianity of having poisoned eros. (DCE 3-4). A true Christian understanding of sexuality maintains eros can bring the human spirit towards what is true, good and beautiful. The notion that the body is bad is a heresy. Our bodies reflect the image and likeness of God. We cover our bodies because of the need to protect their goodness and from the squalor of lust. Our bodies are something that are intrinsically good. Tertullian said that the body is the hinge of salvation. We cannot fully express love without the body. A full understanding of eros calls us to rise above and beyond ourselves and not to seek pleasure purely for self gratification. Christianity does not worship sexual union, but turns it into something that is worship (Heaven’s song, Christopher West, p130). Eros is something that God invented, in order to bring mankind to himself. His very first commandment to man in the Bible is that we should be ‘fruitful and multiply.’ (Genesis 1:28). God blessed this and saw that it was good. Therefore what is erotic is also true, good and beautiful. Agape is love that is based on faith. It expresses love that is unconditional, self sacrificing and active. Love is expressed in its fullest manifestation when given and received. Agape can be caring for others, empathising and understanding. Agape is also fully willing and capable of forgiveness, because of its intensity and compassion. This form of love is fully lived out in self giving and a search and encounter with God. Jesus is a source of agape which we must embrace, imitate and become one with. Agape is seen in the Eucharist because it is how God comes to us sacramentally and bodily so he can continue to be with us and work in us. Agape is fully lived through the gift of oneself to others. Overall, love is not divided up into different definitions but is a united force. Benedict states that “We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape.” (DCE 10). Essentially Agape and eros are not exclusive but complementary. But God is not sexual (CCC 42, 239, 370). Our love can be diminished if we only experience one dimension of it. The Bible shows the different types of human love, and our love must be uncorrupted, authentic and innocent in order for us to be able to love God and love man. God loves us intensely and our love can only come as a response. God forgives humanity when we trespass his commandments. Through the crucifixion and resurrection, God shows the intensity of his love for mankind. In this relationship of gift, both man and God are fully themselves, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God is united to man. Both eros and agape are lived through the acceptance of love through our own will and the joy of being loved by God. Both eros and agape are not sterile but part of a journey of development and the contagious nature of love means that we must spread it to others. Liturgy Avoid Eucharistic worship that is formal and empty. This can be due to a lack of participation from the heart. Catholics are called to a full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy.

Secularisation can even happen in the Church. Eucharistic Adoration: fundamental transformation "God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in him. His dynamic enters into us and then seeks to spread outward to others until it fills the world, so that his love can truly become the dominant measure of the world." Value Lectio Divina Pope Benedict has said, “I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of lectio divina. The diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking and in praying responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum #25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church- I am convinced of it- a new spiritual springtime.” (Address of Benedict XVI to the international congress commemorating the 40th anniversary of Dei Verbum, Sept. 16th, 2005). Render God Credible: Above all, that of which we are in need at this moment in history are men who, through an enlightened and lived faith, render God credible in this world. The negative testimony of Christians who speak about God and live against him, has darkened God's image and opened the door to disbelief. We need men who have their gaze directed to God, to understand true humanity. We need men whose intellects are enlightened by the light of God, and whose hearts God opens, so that their intellects can speak to the intellects of others, and so that their hearts are able to open up to the hearts of others. Only through men who have been touched by God, can God come near to men.-Benedict XVI Responsible use of technology: Give a soul to the internet Pope Benedict says: "We are no longer able to hear God,here are too many frequencies filling our ears." How true. Mass media can make us feel like we are all spectators: He talked about a pollution of the spirit, which brings a sense of melancholy and sadness. Mary is needed by everyone to rediscover and defend what is inside people. Mary reminds of God's victory over sin and helps us to hope even in the hardest situations. On Suffering: "Even suffering is part of the truth of our life. Thus, trying to shield the youngest from every difficulty and experience of suffering, we risk creating, despite our good intentions, fragile persons of little generosity: The capacity to love, in fact, corresponds to the capacity to suffer, and to suffer together." ~Benedict XVI To English Bishops: The Holy Father said during his speech, "If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the Bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short all who are engaged in the task of communicating the Gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who

guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal." From Caritas in Veritate: 28. Respect for life.. cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples. 28. Openness to life is at the centre of true development. 29. There is another aspect of modern life that is very closely connected to development: the denial of the right to religious freedom. 29. God is the guarantor of man’s true development. 30. Deeds without knowledge is blind, and knowledge without love is sterile. 30. Love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love. 31. Moral evaluation and scientific research must go hand in hand. 31. The Church’s social doctrine… allows faith, theology, metaphysics and science to come together in collaborative effort in the service of humanity. 34. Hope encourages reason and gives it the strength to direct the will. 34. Truth, like love, “is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself on human beings.” 37. Every Economic decision has a moral consequence. 40. Investment always has moral as well as economic significance. 43. The reality of human solidarity, which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty…. Rights presuppose duties if there are not to become mere licence. 44. To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view. 44. Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource. Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people. 53. One of the deepest forms of poverty a person can experience today is isolation. 70. Hence the pressing need for formation in an ethically responsible use of technology. 75. While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human. 76. The question of development is closely bound up with tour understanding of the human soul… we often reduce the self to the psyche and confuse the soul’s health with emotional well being.

76. When he is far from God, man is unsettled and ill at ease. Some of the Pope's Addresses to Young People http://www.zenit.org/article-28954?l=english BXVI - Address to young people in Gozo and Malta: 'Every personal encounter with Jesus is an overwhelming experience of love...God loves everyone of us with a depth and intensity that we can hardly begin to imagine. And he knows us intimately, he knows all our strengths and our faults. Because he loves us so much, he wants to purify us of our faults and build up our virtues so that we can have life in abundance. When he challenges us it is because something in our lives is displeasing to him, he is not rejecting us but asking us to change and become more perfect...God rejects no-one. Yet in his great love, God challenges all of us to change and become more perfect.' Papal Message to International Youth Forum - http://www.zenit.org/article-28740?l=english 2010 - World Youth Day Message http://www.zenit.org/article-28644?l=english World Youth Day - 25 years http://www.zenit.org/article-28650?l=english Pope urges young to make plans with God http://www.zenit.org/article-28528?l=english Pope's address to Youth: http://www.zenit.org/article-26983?l=english Papal words to priests, youth http://www.zenit.org/article-26241?l=english Papal message to Madrid Youth http://www.zenit.org/article-25594?l=english Papal message about World Youth Day cross (Madrid) http://www.zenit.org/article-25579?l=english Pope explains the meaning of Sacrifice to young people http://www.zenit.org/article-25580?l=english Pope's address to youth in Luanda http://www.zenit.org/article-25440?l=english Pope promotes Eucharistic Adoration http://www.zenit.org/article-25356?l=english Papal message for World Youth Day 2009 http://www.zenit.org/article-25262?l=english Pope addresses youth of Italy's Catholic action

http://www.zenit.org/article-24643?l=english BXVI on true message of Lourdes - No suffering, no love. http://www.zenit.org/article-23643?l=english Pope's address to French Youth: 'The Spirit is our indispensable guide' http://www.zenit.org/article-23612?l=english Various addresses from World Youth Day Sydney: http://www.zenit.org/article-23304?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23305?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23286?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23287?l=english Papal addresses at World Youth Day Sydney: http://www.zenit.org/article-23288?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23293?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23277?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23278?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23279?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23280?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23281?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23282?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23255?l=english http://www.zenit.org/article-23238?l=english Pope's address to Polish Youth: http://www.zenit.org/article-22858?l=english Pope's address to Genoa Youth: http://www.zenit.org/article-22810?l=english Pope's meeting with Youth and Seminarians in US. http://www.zenit.org/article-22350?l=english Papal address to Rome's university students. http://www.zenit.org/article-21382?l=english

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