05 May 2010

'Live, don't just get by': Pope Benedict to young people in Turin


The Vatican Information Service carried the report below last Monday, 3 May. I have highlighted some parts of it and [made some comments].

Pope Benedict in Turin, 2 May 2010

VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. today, the Pope returned to Piazza San Carlo where he met with young people from the archdiocese of Turin and surrounding dioceses. Following a welcome speech by Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin , and a greeting from the young people, the Pope delivered his address.
Benedict XVI in Turin, 2 May 2010

Recalling how twenty-five years ago John Paul II wrote a Letter for young people focusing on Jesus' meeting with the rich young man who asked Him what me had to do to gain eternal life, Benedict XVI said: "Today it is not easy to talk about eternal life and things everlasting because the mentality of our time tells us that nothing definitive exists; everything changes, and changes quickly. In many cases, 'change' has become a watchword, ... and in this way you young people are also led to think that it is impossible to make definitive choices that commit you for life". [Many couples prefer to live together, for example, than to make the life-long commitment that marriage involves. This attitude became very prevalent in the Western world in the late 1960s and affected the Church greatly, with priests and religious leaving in huge numbers.]

Pope's visit to Turin, 2 May 2010

However, the Pope asked, "is it true that in order to be happy we have to make do with small and fleeting moments of joy, the which, once over, leave bitterness in our hearts? Dear young people, this is not true freedom, happiness cannot be attained in this way. Each of us was created to make, not provisional and reversible choices, but definitive and irrevocable choices which give full meaning to existence. [We won't experience the truth of this until we make such choices.] We see this in our own lives: we would like every beautiful experience which fills us with joy never to end. God created us with a view to the 'forever'. In each of our hearts He placed the seed for a life that creates something great and beautiful". [Pope Benedict never short-changes us by proposing the trivial or the transitory as the goal of life.]

"In his dialogue with the rich young man, Jesus indicated life's greatest wealth: love. To love God and others with all of ourselves. ... For humans, who are mortal and limited beings, nothing is greater than participating in God's life of love. [Note: 'participating in God's life of love'. What could be greater than this?] Today we live in a cultural context that does not favour profound and disinterested human relationships, on the contrary, it often leads us to close in on ourselves, inducing individualism. ... But the hearts of the young are by nature sensitive to true love. Thus, with great trust, ['with great trust' - Benedict, the Holy Father, calls forth what is best in those who are young] I address myself to each of you and say: it is not easy to make something great and beautiful of your lives, it is demanding, but with Christ everything is possible".

"Experience this meeting with Christ's love in a strong personal relationship with Him; experience this in the Church and primarily in the Sacraments", Benedict XVI exhorted the young people. [One of the recurring themes in Pope Benedict's teaching is this strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Don't be led astray by 'Born Again' people who tell you that Catholics don't have that. The Pope tells us how to nourish that - through the sacraments.] "Christ's love for the young man of the Gospel is the same as that He has for each of you. It is not a love confined to the past, it is not an illusion, it is not reserved for the few. ... May each of you feel yourselves to be a 'living part' of the Church, unafraid, involved in the work of evangelisation ... [everyone is called to be a saint, a central teaching of Vatican II] with your brothers and sisters in the faith, and in communion with pastors, avoiding individualist tendencies even in the life of faith, [each is unique but God does not call us to be 'loners'] in order deeply to absorb the beauty of being part of the great mosaic that is the Church of Christ".

The Holy Father gave the example of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati, [photo above, he was born in Turin and died in 1925, aged 24] the twentieth anniversary of whose beatification falls this month. He "put his Christian formation into practice with great commitment, giving a simple and effective witness of his faith", said the Pope recalling how Blessed Frassati's motto was "live, don't just get by". In this context, he invited his audience "to discover that it is worthwhile committing yourselves for God and with God, responding to His call in all your choices, the fundamental and the mundane, even when there is a price to pay".

Blessed Piergiorgio (center)

"May the Holy Shroud", he concluded, "be an invitation for you to inscribe the face of God's love into your hearts, in order to become, in your own lives and among your peers, a credible expression of the face of Christ".


A quote from Blessed Piergiorgio, who was on of the patrons of World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008, that reflects what the Holy Father said on Sunday in Turin: 'To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth, that is not living, but merely existing; we must never just "exist".'

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