Benedict in Loreto (September 2007)
Papal Homily in Loreto
"Jesus Has a Fondness for Young
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Sept. 2 homily at the Mass
celebrated with youth in Loreto, Italy.
* * *
Plain of Montorso
Sunday, 2 September 2007
After last night's Vigil, our Meeting in Loreto is now
coming to an end around the altar with the solemn Eucharistic
celebration. Once again, my most cordial greeting to you all. I extend
a special greeting to the Bishops and I thank Archbishop Angelo
Bagnasco who has expressed your common sentiments. I greet the
Archbishop of Loreto who has welcomed us with affection and kindness. I
greet the priests, the men and women religious and all those who have
carefully prepared this important event of faith. I offer a respectful
greeting to the Civil and Military Authorities present, with a
particular remembrance for Hon. Mr Francesco Rutelli, Vice-President of
the Council of Ministers.
This is truly a day of grace! The Readings we have just
heard help us to understand the marvellous work the Lord has done in
bringing so many of us here to Loreto, to meet in a joyful atmosphere
of prayer and festivity. In a certain sense, our gathering at the
Virgin's Shrine fulfils the words of the Letter to the Hebrews: "You
have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God". Celebrating
the Eucharist in the shadow of the Holy House, we too come to the
"festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are
enrolled in heaven". Thus, we can experience the joy of having come "to
a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made
perfect". With Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and our Mother, let us
above all go to meet "the Mediator of a New Covenant", Our Lord Jesus
Christ (cf. Heb 12:22-24). The Heavenly Father, who in many and various
ways spoke to our fathers (cf. Heb 1:1), offering his Covenant and
often encountering resistance and rejection, desired in the fullness of
time to make a new, definitive and irrevocable agreement with human
beings, sealing it with the Blood of his Only-Begotten Son, who died
and rose for the salvation of all humanity. Jesus Christ, God made man,
took on our own flesh in Mary, participated in our life and chose to
share in our history. To realize his Covenant God sought a young heart
and he found it in Mary, "a young woman".
God also seeks young people today. He seeks young people
with great hearts who can make room for him in their lives to be
protagonists of the New Covenant. To accept a proposal as fascinating
as the one Jesus offers us, to make the covenant with him, it is
necessary to be youthful within, to be capable of letting oneself be
called into question by his newness, to set out with him on new roads.
Jesus has a fondness for young people, as the conversation with the
rich young man clearly shows (cf. Mt 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-22); he
respects their freedom but never tires of proposing loftier goals for
life to them: the newness of the Gospel and the beauty of holy
behaviour. Following her Lord's example, the Church continues to show
the same attention. This is why, dear young people, she looks at you
with immense affection, she is close to you in moments of joy and
festivity, in trials and in loss. She sustains you with the gifts of
sacramental grace and accompanies you in the discernment of your
vocation. Dear young people, let yourselves be involved in the new life
that flows from the encounter with Christ and you will be able to be
apostles of his peace in your families, among your friends, within your
Ecclesial Communities and in the various milieus in which you live and
But what is it that makes people "young" in the Gospel
sense? Our Meeting, which is taking place in the shadow of a Marian
Shrine, invites us to look to Our Lady. Let us therefore ask ourselves:
How did Mary spend her youth? Why was it that in her the impossible
became possible? She herself reveals it to us in the Canticle of the
Magnificat. God "regarded the low estate of his handmaiden" (Lk 1:48a).
It was Mary's humility that God appreciated more than anything else in
her. And it is precisely of humility that the other two Readings of
today's liturgy speak to us. Is it not a happy coincidence that this
message is addressed to us exactly here in Loreto? Here, we think
spontaneously of the Holy House of Nazareth, which is the Shrine of
humility: the humility of God who took flesh, who made himself small,
and the humility of Mary who welcomed him into her womb; the humility
of the Creator and the humility of the creature. Jesus, Son of God and
Son of man, was born from this encounter of humility. "The greater you
are, the more you humble yourself, so you will find favour in the sight
of the Lord. For great is the might of the Lord" (3:18-20) says the
passage in Sirach; and in the Gospel, after the Parable of the Wedding
Feast, Jesus concludes: "Every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 14:11). Today, this
perspective mentioned in the Scriptures appears especially provocative
to the culture and sensitivity of contemporary man. The humble person
is perceived as someone who gives up, someone defeated, someone who has
nothing to say to the world. Instead, this is the principal way, and
not only because humility is a great human virtue but because, in the
first place, it represents God's own way of acting. It was the way
chosen by Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, who "being found in
human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even
death on a cross" (Phil 2:8).
Dear young people, I seem to perceive in these words of
God about humility an important message which is especially current for
you who want to follow Christ and belong to his Church. This is the
message: do not follow the way of pride but rather that of humility. Go
against the tide: do not listen to the interested and persuasive voices
that today are peddling on many sides models of life marked by
arrogance and violence, by oppression and success at any cost, by
appearances and by having at the expense of being. How many messages,
which reach you especially through the mass media, are targeting you!
Be alert! Be critical! Do not follow the wave produced by this
powerful, persuasive action. Do not be afraid, dear friends, to prefer
the "alternative" routes pointed out by true love: a modest and sound
lifestyle; sincere and pure emotional relationships; honest commitment
in studies and work; deep concern for the common good. Do not be afraid
of seeming different and being criticized for what might seem to be
losing or out of fashion; your peers but adults too, especially those
who seem more distant from the mindset and values of the Gospel, are
crying out to see someone who dares to live according to the fullness
of humanity revealed by Jesus Christ.
Therefore, dear friends, the way of humility is not the
way of renunciation but that of courage. It is not the result of a
defeat but the result of a victory of love over selfishness and of
grace over sin. In following Christ and imitating Mary, we must have
the courage of humility; we must entrust ourselves humbly to the Lord,
because only in this way will we be able to become docile instruments
in his hands and allow him to do great things in us. The Lord worked
great miracles in Mary and in the Saints! I am thinking, for example,
of Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, Patrons of Italy. I am
thinking also of splendid young people like St Gemma Galgani, St
Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin, St Louis Gonzaga, St Dominic Savio, St
Maria Goretti, born not far from here, and the Blesseds, Piergiorgio
Frassati and Alberto Marvelli. And I am also thinking of numerous young
men and women who belong to the ranks of the "anonymous" Saints, but
who are not anonymous to God. For him, every individual person is
unique, with his or her own name and face. All, and you know it, are
called to be Saints!
As you see, dear young people, the humility the Lord has
taught us and to which the Saints have borne witness, each according to
the originality of his or her own vocation, is quite different from a
renunciatory way of life. Let us look above all at Mary. At her school,
we too, like her, can experience that "yes" of God to humanity from
which flow all the "yeses" of our life. It is true, the challenges you
must face are many and important. The first however, is always that of
following Christ to the very end without reservations and compromises.
And following Christ means feeling oneself a living part of his body
which is the Church. One cannot call oneself a disciple of Jesus if one
does not love and obey his Church. The Church is our family in which
love for the Lord and for our brothers and sisters, especially through
participation in the Eucharist, enables us to experience the joy of
already having a foretaste, now, of the future life that will be
totally illuminated by Love. May our daily commitment be to live here
below as though we were already in Heaven above.
Thus, feeling oneself as Church is a vocation to holiness
for all; it is a daily commitment to build communion and unity,
overcoming all resistance and rising above every incomprehension. In
the Church we learn to love, teaching ourselves to accept our neighbour
freely, to show caring attention to those in difficulty, to the poor
and to the lowliest. The fundamental motivation that unites believers
in Christ is not success but goodness, a goodness that is all the more
authentic the more it is shared, and which does not primarily consist
in having or in being powerful, but in being. In this way one builds
the city of God with human beings, a city which at the same time grows
on earth and comes down from Heaven because it develops in the
encounter and collaboration between people and God (cf. Rv 21:2-3).
Following Christ, dear young people, also entails the
constant effort to make one's own contribution to building a society
that is more just and sober and in which all may enjoy the goods of the
I know that many of you are generously dedicated to
witnessing to your faith in the various social environments, active as
volunteers and working to promote the common good, peace and justice in
every community. There is no doubt that one of the fields in which it
seems urgent to take action is that of safeguarding creation. The
future of the planet is entrusted to the new generations, in which
there are evident signs of a development that has not always been able
to protect the delicate balances of nature. Before it is too late, it
is necessary to make courageous decisions that can recreate a strong
alliance between humankind and the earth. A decisive "yes" is needed to
protect creation and also a strong commitment to invert those trends
which risk leading to irreversibly degrading situations. I therefore
appreciated the Italian Church's initiative to encourage sensitivity to
the problems of safeguarding creation by establishing a National Day,
which occurs precisely on 1 September. This year attention is focused
above all on water, a very precious good which, if it is not shared
fairly and peacefully, will unfortunately become a cause of harsh
tensions and bitter conflicts.
Dear young friends, after listening to your reflections
yesterday evening and last night, letting myself be guided by God's
Word, I now want to entrust to you my considerations which are intended
as a paternal encouragement to follow Christ in order to be witnesses
of his hope and love. For my part, I will continue to be beside you
with my prayers and affection, so that you may persevere
enthusiastically on the journey of the Agora, this unique triennial
journey of listening, dialogue and mission. Today, concluding the first
year with this wonderful Meeting, I cannot fail to invite you to look
ahead already to the great event of World Youth Day that will be held
in July next year in Sydney. I ask you to prepare yourselves for this
important manifestation of youthful faith by meditating on the Message
which examines in depth the theme of the Holy Spirit, to live together
a new springtime of the Spirit. Therefore, I am expecting many of you
even in Australia, at the end of your second year of the Agora. Lastly,
let us turn our gaze, our eyes, once again to Mary, model of humility
and courage. Virgin of Nazareth, help us to be docile to the work of
the Holy Spirit, as you were; help us to become ever more holy,
disciples in love with your Son Jesus; sustain and guide these young
people so that they may be joyful and tireless missionaries of the
Gospel among their peers in every corner of Italy. Amen!
Pope's Address at Prayer Vigil in Loreto
"Christ Can Fill Your Heart's Deepest Aspirations"
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of Benedict XVI's address to the youth gathered in Loreto,
Italy, on Sept. 1, for a prayer vigil.
* * *
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Dear young people who are the hope of the Church in Italy! I am happy
to meet you in this remarkable place, on this special evening, rich in
prayer, song, periods of silence, full of hope and profound emotion.
This valley, where in the past also my beloved Predecessor John Paul II
met many of you, has henceforth become your agora, your square without
walls and barriers, where a thousand streets converge and from which
they branch out.
I listened with attention to those who have spoken on behalf of you
all. You have come to this peaceful, authentic and joyful place of
encounter for thousands of different reasons: some of you because you
belong to a group or were invited by some friend, some by deep
conviction, some with several doubts in your heart and some merely out
of curiosity.... Whatever the reason that drew you here, I can tell
you, although it requires courage to say it, that it was the Holy
Spirit who has brought us together. Yes, that is exactly the case; the
Spirit has led you here; you have come here with your doubts and
certainties, with your joys and your anxieties. It is now up to all of
us, to all of you, to open your hearts and offer everything to Jesus.
Say to him: here I am; of course, I am not yet as you would like me to
be, I cannot even manage to understand myself fully but with your help
I am ready to follow you. Lord Jesus, this evening I would like to
speak to you, making my own the inner attitude and trusting abandonment
of that young woman who, 2,000 years ago, said her "yes" to the Father
who chose her to be your Mother. The Father chose her because she was
docile and obedient to his will. Like her, like little Mary, each one
of you, dear young friends, should say to God with faith: "Here I am;
let it be done to me according to your word".
What an amazing spectacle of young and stirring faith we are
experiencing this evening! And this evening, thanks to you, Loreto has
become the spiritual capital of youth; the centre towards which
multitudes of the young people who populate the five Continents
converge in spirit.
At this moment, we feel as though we were surrounded by the
expectations and hopes of millions of young people across the world: at
this very minute there are some who are watching, others who are
asleep, yet others who are studying or working; some are hoping and
some despairing, some believe and others are not able to believe, some
love life and others, instead, are throwing it away.
I would like my words to reach them all: the Pope is close to you, he
shares your joys and your pain, and he especially shares in the most
intimate hopes that are in your soul. For each one of you he asks the
Lord for the gift of a full and happy life, a life filled with meaning,
a true life.
Today, unfortunately, all too often a full and happy existence is seen
by many young people as a difficult dream -- we heard so many
testimonies -- sometimes almost impossible to accomplish. So many of
your peers are looking to the future with apprehension and ask many
questions. Worried, they ask: How is it possible to be integrated in a
society marked by a multitude of grave injustices and suffering? How
should I react to the selfishness and violence that sometimes seem to
prevail? How can I give life full meaning?
With love and conviction, I repeat to you young people present here,
and through you to your peers throughout the world: Do not be afraid,
Christ can fill your heart's deepest aspirations! Are there dreams that
cannot come true when it is God's Spirit who inspires and nourishes
them in your heart? Can anything block our enthusiasm when we are
united with Christ? Nothing and no one, the Apostle Paul would say,
will ever separate us from God's love, in Christ Jesus Our Lord (cf.
Rom 8: 35-39).
Let me tell you again this evening: if you stay united with Christ,
each one of you will be able to do great things. This is why, dear
friends, you must not be afraid to dream with your eyes open of
important projects of good and you must not let yourselves be
discouraged by difficulties. Christ has confidence in you and wants you
to be able to realize all your most noble and lofty dreams of genuine
happiness. Nothing is impossible for those who trust in God and entrust
themselves to him.
Look at the young Mary; the Angel proposed something truly
inconceivable to her: participation, in the most involving way
possible, in the greatest of God's plans, the salvation of humanity.
Facing this proposal, Mary, as we heard in the Gospel, was distressed
for she realized the smallness of her being before the omnipotence of
God; and she asked herself: "How is it possible? Why should it be me?".
Yet, ready to do the divine will, she promptly said her "yes" which
changed her life and the history of all humanity. It is also thanks to
her "yes" that we are meeting here this evening.
I ask myself and I ask you: can God's requests to us, however demanding
they may seem, ever compare with what God asked the young Mary? Dear
young men and women, since Mary truly knows what it means to respond
generously to the Lord's requests, let us learn from her to say our own
Mary, dear young people, knows your noblest and deepest aspirations.
Above all, she well knows your great desire for love, with your need to
love and to be loved. By looking at her, by following her docilely, you
will discover the beauty of love; not a "disposable" love that is
transient and deceptive, imprisoned in a selfish and materialistic
mindset, but true, deep love.
In the very depths of their hearts, every young man, every young woman
who are looking out on life, cherish the dream of a love that will give
full meaning to their futures. For many, this is fulfilled in the
choice of marriage and in the formation of a family in which the love
between a man and a woman is lived as a definitive gift, sealed by the
"yes" spoken before God on their wedding day, a "yes" for their whole
I know well that today this dream is always less easy to realize. How
many failures of love surround us! How many couples bow their heads,
give up and separate! How many families fall to pieces! How many young
people, even among you, have witnessed the separation and divorce of
I would like to say to those in such sensitive and complex situations:
the Mother of God, the Community of believers and the Pope are beside
you and are praying that the crisis that marks today's families may not
become an irreversible failure. May Christian families, with the
support of divine Grace, stay faithful to that solemn commitment of
love joyfully assumed before the priest and the Christian community on
the solemn day of their marriage.
In the face of so many failures these questions are often asked: Am I
any better than my friends and my parents who have tried and failed?
Why should I myself succeed where so many have given up? This human
fear can be daunting to even the more courageous spirits but in this
night that awaits us, in front of her Holy House, Mary will repeat to
each one of you, dear young friends, the words that she herself heard
the Angel say to her: Do not be afraid, do not fear!
The Holy Spirit is with you and will never leave you. Nothing is
impossible to those who trust in God. This applies for those who are
destined to married life and still more for those to whom God proposes
a life of total detachment from earthly goods, to be dedicated full
time to his Kingdom. Some of you have set out towards the priesthood,
towards the consecrated life; some of you aspire to be missionaries,
knowing how many and what risks this entails.
I am thinking of the missionaries, priests, women religious and lay
people, who have fallen in the trenches of love at the service of the
Gospel. Fr Giancarlo Bossi, for whom we prayed when he was kidnapped in
the Philippines, will have much to tell us about this and today we
rejoice to have him with us. Through him, I would like to greet and
thank all those who spend their lives for Christ on the frontiers of
Dear young people, if the Lord calls you to live more intimately at his
service, respond generously. You may be certain: life dedicated to God
is never spent in vain.
Dear young people, I shall end my talk here, not without first having
embraced you with a father's heart. I embrace you one by one and greet
you warmly. I greet the Bishops present, starting with Archbishop
Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, and
Archbishop Gianni Danzi who has welcomed us into his Ecclesial
Community. I greet the priests, the Religious and the animators who
have accompanied you. I greet the Civil Authorities and all who
organized this Meeting. We will be "virtually" united later and we will
see one another again tomorrow morning, at the end of this night of
Vigil, for the crowning point of our Meeting when Jesus makes himself
truly present in his Word and in the mystery of the Eucharist.
From this moment, I would like to make an appointment with you young
people in Sydney where, in a year's time, the next World Youth Day will
be held. I know Australia is far away and for young Italians it is
literally at the other end of the world.... Let us pray that the Lord
who works every miracle will grant that many of you may be there. May
he grant it to me, may he grant it to you. This is one of our many
dreams which tonight, as we pray together, we entrust to Mary. Amen.
XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
"The Pope Is Close to You, He Shares Your Joys and Your
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 12, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of the question-and-answer session Benedict XVI
held with the youth gathered in Loreto, Italy, on Sept. 1.
* * *
PASTORAL VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO LORETO
ON THE OCCASION OF THE AGORÀ OF ITALIAN YOUTH
PRAYER VIGIL WITH YOUNG PEOPLE
Plain of Montorso
Saturday, 1 September 2007
RESPONSES OF THE HOLY FATHER
TO QUESTIONS POSED BY YOUNG PEOPLE
by Piero Tisti and Giovanna Di Mucci:
"Many of us young people in the suburbs do not have a
centre, a place or people with whom we can identify. Often we are
without a history, a perspective or even a future. It seems that what
we really wait for never happens. From this come the experience of
solitude and at times, an improper dependence on others. Your Holiness,
is there someone or something by means of which we can become
important? How is it possible to hope when reality negates every dream
of happiness, every project of life?".
Response of the
Thank you for this question and for your very realistic
presentation of the situation. It is not always easy to respond
concerning the peripheries of this world with great problems and we do
not want to live an easy optimism; but on the other hand, we must have
the courage to go forward.
I will therefore anticipate the essence of my answer: Yes,
there is hope today too; each one of you is important because each is
known and desired by God and God has his plan for each one. It is our
task to discover and respond to it, so that despite these precarious
and marginalized situations, we will be able to put into practice God's
plan for us.
However, to go into detail, you have realistically
presented to us the situation of a society: in the outskirts it seems
hard to move ahead, to change the world for the better. Everything
seems concentrated in the great centres of economic and political
power, the great bureaucracies dominate, and those in the outskirts
truly seem excluded from this life.
Then, one aspect of this situation of marginalization that
affects so many people is that the important cells of social life that
can also build centres on the fringes are fragmented: the family, which
should be the place where generations meet - from great grandfather to
grandchild -, should not only be a place where generations meet but
also where they learn to live, learn the essential virtues, and this is
Thus, all the more should we do our utmost to ensure that
the family survives, that today too, it is the vital cell, the centre
in the periphery.
Therefore, the parish, the living cell of the Church, must
also really be a place of inspiration, life and solidarity which helps
people build together centres in the periphery. And I must say here,
there is often talk about the Church in the suburbs and in the centre,
which would be Rome, but in fact in the Church there are no suburbs
because where Christ is, the whole centre is there.
Wherever the Eucharist is celebrated, wherever the
Tabernacle stands, there is Christ; hence, there is the centre and we
must do all we can to ensure that these living centres are effective,
present and truly a force that counters this marginalization.
The living Church, the Church of the little communities,
the parish Church, the movements, must form as many centres in the
outskirts and thus help to overcome the difficulties that the leading
politics obviously cannot manage to resolve, and at the same time, we
must also think that despite the great focuses of power, contemporary
society itself is in need of solidarity, of a sense of lawfulness, of
the initiative and creativity of all.
I know that this is easier said than done, but I see here
people who are working to increase the number of centres in the
peripheries, to increase hope, and thus it seems to me that we should
take up the initiative. The Church must be present precisely in the
suburbs; Christ must be present, the centre of the world must be
We have seen and we see today in the Gospel that for God
there are no peripheries. In the vast context of the Roman Empire, the
Holy Land was situated on the fringe; Nazareth was on the margins, an
unknown town. Yet that very situation was, de facto, to become the
centre that changed the world!
And thus, we must form centres of faith, hope, love and
solidarity, centres of a sense of justice and lawfulness and of
cooperation. Only in this way will modern society be able to survive.
It needs this courage, it needs to create centres even if, obviously,
hope does not seem to exist. We must counter this desperation, we must
collaborate with great solidarity in doing our best to increase hope,
so that men and women may collaborate and live.
The world -- we see it -- must be changed, but it is
precisely the mission of young people to change it! We cannot change it
with our own strength alone but in communion of faith and in journeying
on together. In communion with Mary, with all the Saints, in communion
with Christ, we can do something essential, and I encourage you and
invite you to trust in Christ, to trust in God.
Being in the great company of the Saints and moving
forward with them can change the world, creating centres in the
outskirts, so that the company of Saints may truly become visible and
thus the hope of all may become realistic, and every one may say: "I am
important in the totality of history. The Lord will help us". Thank you.
by Sara Simonetta :
"I believe in the God who has touched my heart, but I have
many insecurities, questions and fears that I carry within. It is not
easy to speak about God with my friends; many of them see the Church as
a reality that judges youth, that opposes their desire for happiness
and love. Faced with this refusal, I feel all of my solitude as human
and I want to feel near God. Your Holiness, in this silence, where is
Response of the
Yes, even though we are believers, we all know God's
silence. In the Psalm we have just recited, there is this almost
despairing cry: "Make haste to answer me, O Lord... Do not hide your
face!", and a little while ago a book of the spiritual experiences of
Mother Teresa was published and what we already all knew was a little
more clearly shown: with all her charity and the power of her faith,
Mother Teresa suffered from God's silence.
On the one hand, we must also bear God's silence in order
to understand our brothers who do not know God.
On the other, with the Psalm we can always cry to God once
again: "Answer us, show your face!".
And without a doubt, in our life, if our hearts are open,
we can find the important moments when God's presence really becomes
tangible even for us.
I now remember a little story that John Paul II told at
the Spiritual Exercises he preached in the Vatican when he was not yet
Pope. He recounted that after the war he was visited by a Russian
official who was a scientist and who said to him as a scientist: "I am
certain that God does not exist. Yet, if I am in the mountains,
surrounded by his majestic beauty, by his grandeur, I am equally sure
that the Creator does exist and that God exists".
The beauty of creation is one of the sources where we can
truly touch God's beauty, we can see that the Creator exists and is
good, which is true as Sacred Scripture says in the Creation Narrative,
that is, that God conceived of this world and made it with his heart,
his will and his reason, and he found it good.
We too must be good in order to have an open heart and to
perceive God's true presence.
Then, hearing the Word of God in the solemn liturgical
celebrations, in celebrations of faith, in the great music of faith, we
feel this presence. I remember at this moment another little story
which a Bishop on his ad limina visit told me a little while ago.
There was a very intelligent woman who was not a
Christian. She began to listen to the great music of Bach, Handel and
Mozart. She was fascinated and said one day: "I must find the source of
this beauty", and the woman converted to Christianity, to the Catholic
faith, because she had discovered that this beauty has a source, and
the source is the presence of Christ in hearts, it is the revelation of
Christ in this world.
Hence, great feasts of faith, of liturgical celebration,
but also personal dialogue with Christ: he does not always respond, but
there are times when he really responds. Then there is the friendship,
the company of faith.
Now, gathered here in Loreto, we see that faith unites,
friendship creates a company of travelling companions. And we sense
that all this does not derive from nothing but truly has a source, that
the silent God is also a God who speaks, that he reveals himself and
above all, that we ourselves can be witnesses of his presence, and from
our faith a light truly shines also for others.
Thus, I would say on the one hand, we must accept that God
is silent in this world, but we must not be deaf to his words or blind
to his appearance on so many occasions. We see the Lord's presence,
especially in creation, in the beautiful liturgy, in friendship within
the Church, and full of his presence, we can also give light to others.
Thus, I come to the second part, or rather, the first part
of your question: it is difficult to speak to friends today about God
and perhaps even more difficult to talk about the Church, because they
see in God only the limit of our freedom, a God of commandments, of
prohibitions, and the Church as an institution that limits our freedom,
that imposes prohibitions upon us.
Nonetheless, we must try to make the living Church visible
to them, not this idea of a centre of power in the Church with these
labels, but the community of companions where, in spite of all life's
problems that exist for everyone, is born our joy of living.
Here, a third memory springs to mind. I was in Brazil, in
Fazenda da Esperança, this great community where drug addicts
treated and rediscover hope, the joy of living in this world; and they
witnessed what the actual discovery that God exists meant for their
recovery from despair.
They thus understood that their life has meaning and they
rediscovered the joy of being in this world, the joy of facing the
problems of human life.
Therefore, in every human heart, despite all the problems
that exist, is a thirst for God, and when God disappears, the sun that
gives light and joy also disappears.
This thirst for the infinite that is in our hearts is also
demonstrated even in the reality of drugs: the human being wants to
extend the quality of life, to have more than life, to have the
infinite, but drugs are a lie, they are a fraud, because they do not
extend life but destroy it.
The great thirst that speaks to us of God and sets us on
the path that leads to him is true, but we must help one another.
Christ came to create a network of communion in the world, where all
together we might carry one another, and thus help one another together
to find the ways that lead to life and to understand that the
Commandments of God are not limits to our freedom but the paths that
guide us to the other, toward the fullness of life.
Let us pray to the Lord to help us understand his
presence, to be full of his Revelation, his joy, to help one another to
go forward in the company of faith and with Christ to increasingly find
the true Face of God, and hence, true life.