Pope Benedict XVI's Exhortation to Youth

Our Holy Father is currently on a pilgrimage to the European nation of Croatia. As is customary on all his pilgrimages to specific nations, he addressed the youth of Croatia after praying and meditating upon the Scriptures with them. It is interesting to consider how Pope Benedict will often times meet with two social groups whenever he travels to a foreign land: social leaders, such as politicians, businessmen, ambassadors, and even influential athletes; and, he always sets aside a time of prayer and teaching with the youth. What is the message that he is attempting to instill? The young are inherently valuable and essential for the future growth of humanity.

The following is an excerpt from Pope Benedict's address to the youth of Croatia.

Dear friends: this time of youth is given to you by the Lord to enable you to discover life’s meaning! It is a time of vast horizons, of powerful emotions, but also a time of concern about demanding, long-term choices, a time of challenges in your studies and in the workplace, a time of wondering about the mystery of pain and suffering. What is more, this wonderful time of life is marked by a deep longing which, far from cancelling everything else, actually lifts it up and fulfils it. In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks his disciples: "What are you looking for?" (Jn 1:38).

Young friends, these words, this question reaches beyond time and space, it challenges every man and woman who is open to life and in search of the right path… And, startlingly, the voice of Jesus also says to you: "what are you looking for?" Jesus speaks to you today, through the Gospel and his Holy Spirit. He is your contemporary! He seeks you even before you seek him! While fully respecting your freedom, he approaches each one of you and offers himself as the authentic and decisive response to the longing deep within your hearts, to your desire for a life worth living. Let him take you by the hand! Let him become more and more your friend and companion along life’s journey. Put your trust in him and he will never disappoint you!

Jesus enables you to know at first hand the love of God the Father; he helps you realize that your happiness comes from his friendship, from fellowship with him. Why? Because we have been created and saved by love, and it is only in love, the love which desires and seeks the good of others, that we truly experience the meaning of life and find happiness in living it, even amid difficulties, trials and disappointments, even when it means swimming against the tide.

Dear young people: if you are rooted in Christ, you will fully become the person you are meant to be. As you know, this is the theme I chose for my Message for the coming World Youth Day, which will see us gathered this August in Madrid and towards which we are now making our way. I began with an incisive expression of Saint Paul: "Rooted and built up in Christ, and established in the faith" (Col 2:7). As you grow in friendship with the Lord through his word, the Eucharist and life in the Church, you will be able, with the help of your priests, to testify to the complete joy of having encountered the One who always stands at your side and enables you to live in confidence and hope. The Lord Jesus is not a Teacher who deceives his disciples: he tells us clearly that walking by his side calls for commitment and personal sacrifice, but it is worth the effort!

Young friends: do not let yourselves be led astray by enticing promises of easy success, by lifestyles which regard appearances as more important than inner depth. Do not yield to the temptation of putting all your trust in possessions, in material things, while abandoning the  search for the truth which is always "greater", which guides us like a star high in the heavens to where Christ would lead us. Let it guide you to the very heights of God! In this springtime of your youth, you can find support in the witness which so many of the Lord’s disciples gave in their own days by treasuring the newness of the Gospel in their hearts. Think of Francis and Clare of Assisi, Rose of Viterbo, Theresa of the Child Jesus, Dominic Savio: think of all the many young saints in the great company of the Church!

We invoke the intercession of our school patron, St. Joseph, requesting that he pray for our youth as we near the final weeks of the academic school year. May the youth of Mount Royal strive to seek the deeper meaning of life, and thereby encounter the God who personally searches for them, so as to help them discern the lofty vocation that has been placed on each of their hearts.