Pope Benedict XVI Urges Youth to Build Their Lives on Christ

As published by the Vatican.

“Dear Holy Father this is the young assembly who heard your call, drawn from across the world…now we are here, we who John Paul II called the ‘sentinels of the third millennium’, to hear your words”, said the young woman, greeting Pope Benedict XVI.

Youth from all nationalities gathering around the Pope at the
World Youth Day at Madrid

Looking out over Madrid’s Cibeles square, looking out at the hundreds of thousands of young people, on Thursday evening, Pope Benedict opened his arms and he told them: “Through your presence and your participation in these celebrations, the name of Christ will echo throughout this great City. Let us pray that his message of hope and love will also resound in the hearts of those who are not believers or who have grown distant from the Church”.

They had had been waiting patiently since early afternoon, since his plane had touched down at Barajas International Airport, for this moment, the moment when Pope Benedict XVI was finally welcomed to the Spanish capital by the real protagonists of this, his 20th Apostolic voyage, the World Youth Day pilgrims.
And the Pope had special greetings for them in many of their different languages, including English, as he told them: “I extend an affectionate greeting to the many English-speaking young people who have come to Madrid. May these days of prayer, friendship and celebration bring us closer to each other and to the Lord Jesus. Make trust in Christ’s word the foundation of your lives! Planted and built up in him, firm in the faith and open to the power of the Spirit, you will find your place in God’s plan and enrich the Church with your gifts. Let us pray for one another, so that we may be joyful witnesses to Christ, today and always. God bless you all!”

They had lined the route from the nunciature to Independence square, transforming the security barriers into one endless multinational flag and their cries were deafening. Beneath the towering triumphal arch, he was formally welcomed to Madrid by the city mayor who handed him the golden keys to the city. Then, together with 50 young people in traditional dress, (ten for each continent) Pope Benedict passed through the central arch of the historic Puerta de Acalà, thus officially entering the Spanish capital.
There he was invited to plant an olive tree, memento of this visit, symbolic of its theme, St Paul’s command to the early Christians: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”.An exhibition of majestic Andalusian horsemanship, the release of white balloons, a fly over by the Spainish airforce Aguila squadron – all of this paled by comparison with what awaited Pope Benedict as he set foot on the central stage of Cibeles square. The square literally erupted, drowning out the two hundred strong choir.

“Your visit is of exceptional value”, Card. Ruoco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid told the Pope, “With you comes the “Young Church,” accompanied by her diocesan bishops, priests, and consecrated members in numbers representative of a truly universal “catholic” Church! Christ Resurrected is passing by!”.
Following the Liturgy of the Word, Pope Benedict addressed them saying “in the face of our weaknesses which sometimes overwhelm us, we can rely on the mercy of the Lord who is always ready to help us again and who offers us pardon in the sacrament of Penance”.

He then challenged them to present “a valid alternative to all those who have fallen short”, “who are content to follow fashionable ideas”, “who, creating their own gods, believe they need no roots or foundations other than themselves”, who “take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil”. It is important not to give in to them, warned the Pope “because, in reality, they lead to something so evanescent, like an existence with no horizons, a liberty without God”.

Instead he said, “God is looking for a responsible interlocutor, someone who can dialogue with him and love him. Through Christ we can truly succeed and, established in him, we give wings to our freedom”. This is the firm ground upon which to build the civilization of love and life, capable of humanizing all of us.

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