Rome (Italy). The Message of the Holy Father to the young people in preparation for the XXXIII World Youth Day 2018, which is celebrated on Palm Sunday. This is the second Message that Pope Francis addresses to the young people on their journey to the WYD in Panama, which will take place from 22 to 27 January 2019. The Holy Father wanted the young people to be accompanied by the Virgin Mary on this spiritual pilgrimage. Follow the path of the Virgin Mary, from fear to discernment; from the discovery of being “precious” in the eyes of God, to the courage to say “yes” and to fulfill the gift of self to the Church and the world in a “love full of audacity”, of “courage”.
If, in fact, the Message of last year was centered on the words of the Magnificat: “The Almighty has done great things for me.” (Lk 1:49), next year we will reflect on Mary’s response to the angel: “Behold the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word “(Lk 1:38).
This “Marian trilogy” is an expression of Pope Francis’ desire to offer young people all over the world a theological vision of their existence. Francis reminds them that “we have chosen to be accompanied on this journey by the example and intercession of Mary, the young woman of Nazareth whom God has chosen as the Mother of His Son. She walks with us towards the Synod and towards the WYD of Panama “: “I have at heart heart, in fact, that you young people can walk not only by remembering the past, but also by having courage in the present and hope for the future“(Message WYD 2017).
In the four paragraphs of the text, the Holy Father reflects on every single word of the verse of Luke chosen as the theme of this year, reminding young people that “the Lord, the Church, the world, also await your response to the unique call that everyone has in this life”.
Do not be afraid!
First of all, there is the “disturbance” of Mary at the announcement of the angel, which the Pope compares to the “shiver that we feel when faced with decisions about our future, our state of life, our vocation”. And after asking “you young people, what fears do you have?”, he describes some of them: the fear “of not being loved, well-liked, of not being accepted for who you are”; the fear “of not being able to find emotional security and remain alone”; the “precariousness of work”; the “not seeing their dreams come true”. Francis suggests to “name your fears”: “Do not be afraid to look honestly at your fears, recognize them for what they are and deal with them”. Thanks to faith, to believe “in the fundamental goodness of the existence that God has given us”, trusting “that He leads to a good end also through circumstances and vicissitudes that are often mysterious to us”.
Not being blocked by fear, one opens to “discernment”, above all to understand one’s own personal vocation. “There is need then for the silence of prayer to listen to the voice of God that resounds in the conscience”, but also “dialog with others”, whether priests, or mature people who “as brothers and sisters greater in faith can accompany you”.
The first reason not to fear is the fact that God calls us by name. The angel called Mary by name … Dear young people, being called by name is a sign of our great dignity in the eyes of God, of His predilection for us. You are the “you” of God, precious in His eyes, worthy of esteem and beloved (cf. Isaiah 43: 4). Welcome with joy this dialogue that God offers you, this appeal that He addresses to you by calling you by name “.
You have found grace with God
“The main reason why Mary does not fear is because she has found favor with God”. This “gratuitous love, not due”, gives courage to the disciple. Even if there is always a “feeling of inadequacy”, “he knows he is assisted by the grace of God”.
“Having ‘found grace in His eyes’ – explains the Pope – means that the Creator sees a unique beauty in our being and has a magnificent design for our existence. This awareness certainly does not solve all the problems, nor does it remove the uncertainties of life, but has the power to transform it in depth. The unknown that tomorrow holds for us is not a dark threat which we must survive, but a favorable time that is given to us to live the uniqueness of our personal vocation and share it with our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world “.
Courage in the present
“From the certainty that the grace of God is with us comes the strength to have courage in the present: courage to carry forward what God asks of us here and now, in every area of our lives; courage to embrace the vocation that God shows us; courage to live our faith without hiding it or diminishing it “. “WYD is for the brave, – is the closing of the Message – not for young people who seek only comfort and who are pulling back in front of difficulties. Do you accept the challenge? ”
This path connects with the Synod path, which the Successor of Peter wanted to have lived in great harmony with the preparation for World Youth Day. The next Synod of Bishops (October 2018) on Youth, faith and vocational discernment, in fact, invites us to reflect on the reality in which the new generations live, on their life of faith and on the way in which the fundamental choices mature, that will forge their future and that of humanity.
READ THE MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS FOR THE XXXIII WORLD DAY OF YOUTH