Did some boy break your heart

Synod "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment"










[AR - DE - EN - ES - FR - IT - PT]


1. Christ lives. He is our hope and he is the most beautiful youth in the world. Everything that he touches is rejuvenated, becomes new, is filled with life. So the first words I would like to address to each and every one of you young Christians are: He is alive and he wants you to be alive!

2. He is in you, he is with you and never leaves you. As much as you may go, the Risen One is by your side; he calls you and waits for you to start over. When you feel old out of sadness or resentment, fear, doubt, or failure, He will be there to give you strength and hope back.

3. I address this Apostolic Exhortation to all young Christians with warm affection, that is, a letter which reminds us of some of the convictions of our faith and at the same time encourages us to grow in holiness and in commitment to our vocation. However, since it also represents a milestone on a synodal path, I also turn to the whole people of God, to the shepherds and to the believers, because thinking about and for young people challenges us all and spurs us on. Accordingly, I will address young people directly in some sections and more general approaches to spiritual discernment in others (discernimento) submit.

4. I was inspired by the extensive deliberations and discussions of the Synod over the past year. I cannot include all of these contributions here; they can be found in the final document. However, I have endeavored, in drafting this letter, to include the suggestions that I thought were most important. In this way, my word is enriched by the thousands of voices of believers from all over the world who have brought their thoughts to the Synod. The non-believing young people who wanted to participate with their reflections also raised issues that raised new questions for me.

What does the word of God say about young people?


5. Let us now dig up some treasures from the Holy Scriptures, where various talks are given about young people and how the Lord goes to meet them.

In the Old Testament

6. In an era in which young people counted little, some texts show that God sees with different eyes. For example, we hear that Joseph was one of the youngest of the family (cf.gene 37.2-3). Even so, God told him great things in dreams, and by the age of about twenty he surpassed all his brothers in important offices (cf.gene 37-47).

7. In Gideon we see the sincerity of young people who are not used to glossing over reality. When told that the Lord was with him, he replied, “Is the Lord really with us? Then why did all this hit us? "(Ri6.13). However, God did not allow himself to be irritated by this reproach and doubled the effort for him: "Go in this strength of yours and save Israel" (Ri 6,14).

8. Samuel was an insecure boy, but the Lord was talking to him. Thanks to the advice of an adult, he opened his heart to hear the call of God: “Speak, Lord; because your servant hears "(1 sat 3.9.10). That is why he was a great prophet who stood up for his homeland at important moments. King Saul was also a young man when the Lord called him to fulfill his mission (cf.1 Saturday 9,2).

9. King David was chosen when he was a boy. When the prophet Samuel was looking for the future king of Israel, a man presented his larger and more experienced sons as candidates. However, the Prophet replied that the chosen one was the young David who tended the sheep (cf.1 sat 16.6-13); for "man sees what is before the eyes, but the Lord sees the heart" (v. 7). The radiance of youth lies more in their hearts than in the physical strength or in the impression they leave on others.

10. When Solomon was about to succeed his father, he felt lost and said to God: "I am still very young and do not know what to do next" (1 Kings 3.7). But the boldness of youth led him to ask God for wisdom. So he devoted himself to his task. Something similar happened to the prophet Jeremiah, who was very young, when he was called to stir up his people. In his fear he said: "Oh, Lord and God, I can't talk, I'm still so young" (Jer 1.6). But the Lord admonished him not to speak like this (cf.Jer 1,7), and went on: “Do not be afraid of them; because I am with you to save you «(Jer 1.8). The commitment of the prophet Jeremiah for his mission shows what is possible when the freshness of youth is combined with the power of God.

11. A Jewish girl in the service of the foreign soldier Naaman intervened with strong faith to help him recover from his illness (cf.2 kings 5.2-6). Young Ruth was a model of generosity because she stayed with her mother-in-law, who had got into misery (cf.Ruth 1,1-18), and she also showed boldness to move on in life (cf.Ruth 4,1-17).

In the New Testament

12. A parable of Jesus (cf.Lk 15: 11-32) tells of the fact that the “younger” son wanted to move from his father's house to a distant country (cf. VV. 12-13). But his dreams of independence turned into licentiousness and debauchery (cf. v. 13), and he had the bitter experience of loneliness and poverty (cf. v. 14-16). Nevertheless, he was able to change his mind and start over (cf. VV. 17-19). He decided to leave (cf. v. 20). It is typical of a young heart to be open to change; that it is able to stand up again and be taught by life. How can one leave the son alone in this new endeavor? The older brother, however, already had an old heart. He allowed himself to be absorbed by greed, egoism and jealousy (cf. VV. 28-30). Jesus praises the young sinner who goes back on the right path more than the one who considers himself faithful but does not live the spirit of love and mercy.

13. Jesus as the eternally young wants to give us a heart that is always young. The Word of God urges us: "Get rid of the old leaven so that you will be new!" (1 cor 5.7). At the same time, it invites us to take off the "old" person in order to attract the "new" person (cf.Col 3,9.10).[1] To clothe oneself with youth who are "renewed" (v. 10) means to have feelings of deep compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, to endure and forgive one another when one has something to reproach the other ( see.Col 3.12-13). This means that true youth consists in having a heart capable of loving. Conversely, everything that separates us from others makes the soul old. In summary it says: "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which is the bond of perfection!" (Col 3,14).

14. We see that Jesus did not like it when adults looked down condescendingly on the younger ones or used them in a despotic way. On the contrary, he warned: "The greatest among you should become like the youngest" (Lk 22.26). For Jesus, age was not a privilege, and being younger did not mean that he was less worthy or less dignified.

15. The Word of God says that young people like "brothers" (1 Tim 5.1) are to be treated. It advises parents not to intimidate the children so that they do not become discouraged (cf.Col 3.21). A young person cannot be discouraged; his nature is based on dreaming of big things, looking for broad horizons, daring more and more, wanting to conquer the world, accept demanding challenges and give his best to create something better. That is why I insist on young people not to let hope be stolen from them. I call it out to every single young person again and again: "Nobody should disregard you for your youth"1 Tim 4,12).

16. At the same time, however, the young people are instructed to subordinate themselves to the elderly (cf.1 petr5.5). The Bible always invites you to have great respect for the elders because they have a wealth of experience and have had successes such as defeats, joys and great pains in life, hopes and disappointments. In the silence of their hearts, they keep many stories that can help us avoid mistakes and avoid false pretenses. The word of a wise old person invites you to observe certain limits and to control yourself at the right moment: "Likewise, exhort younger men to be prudent in all things" (Tit 2.6). It is not good to succumb to a cult of youth or to adopt a youthful attitude that despises others because of their age or because they come from another time. Jesus said that a wise person can draw new and old things from his treasure (cf.Mt 13.52). A smart youngster is open to the future, but is always able to appreciate something from the experience of others.

17. The Gospel of Mark speaks of a person who, when Jesus reminded him of the commandments, states: "I have obeyed all these commandments from my youth" (10:20). The Psalms say: "You are my hope, Lord and God, my confidence from my youth on [...] God, you have taught me from my youth and to this day I proclaim your miracles" (71: 5-17). There is no need to regret spending your youth being good, opening your heart to the Lord, and living differently. Youth does not take any of this from us, rather it strengthens and renews them: "Like the eagle, youth is renewed for you" (Ps 103.5). Therefore St. Augustine laments: "I loved you late, you beauty, forever old and forever new, late I loved you."[2] But that rich man who was faithful to God in his youth let the years take away his dreams. He preferred to remain fixated on his material goods (cf.Mk 10,22).

18. In the Gospel of Matthew, on the other hand, a young man (cf.Mt 19:20, 22), who approaches Jesus because he expects more (cf. v. 20). He does it with that open mind that is typical for young people in their search for new horizons and great challenges. In fact, his mind was not so young because he had already clung to riches and comfort. With his mouth he said he wanted more; but when Jesus invites him to be generous and to distribute his possessions, he realized that he is unable to part with his possessions. At the end it says: "When the young man heard this, he went away sad" (v. 22). He had given up his youth.

19. The Gospel also tells us of some wise young women who were ready and attentive while others were distracted and sleepy (cf.Mt 25.1-13). Indeed, one can spend one's youth absent-mindedly by moving only on the surface of life, sleepy and unable to cultivate deep relationships and penetrate into the heart of life. This is how you build a poor future with no substance. On the other hand, one can use one's youth to take care of beautiful and great things, and thus create a future full of life and inner wealth.

20. When you have lost the inner strength, the dreams, the enthusiasm, the hope and the generosity, Jesus appears before you as he appeared before the dead son of the widow and with all his resurrection power calls on you: Young man, »I tell yourself: get up! "(Lk 7,14).

21. There are undoubtedly many other scriptures that can illuminate this phase of life. We will examine some of them in the next few chapters.


Jesus Christ is always young


22. "As a young man among young men, [Jesus] set an example to young men and sanctified them to the Lord."[3] The Synod therefore says that "youth is an independent and stimulating phase of life that Jesus himself lived and thus sanctified".[4] What does the gospel tell us about Jesus' youth?

The youth of Jesus

23. The Lord "breathed out the spirit" (Mt 27:50) on a cross when he was barely more than thirty years old (cf.Lk 3.23). It is important that we are aware that Jesus was a young man. He gave his life at what would now be called that of a young adult. At the height of his youth he began his public work, and so "a light has appeared" (Mt 4:16), especially as he gave his life to perfection. This ending was not accidental; His entire youth was rather a valuable preparation for it, in every single moment, because "in the life of Jesus everything is a sign of his innermost mystery"[5] and "the whole life of Christ is a secret of redemption".[6]

24. The Gospel does not speak of the boyhood of Jesus, but it does tell a few occurrences from his time as an adolescent and adolescent. Matthew inserts this period of the Lord's youth between two events: the return of his family from exile in Nazareth and the beginning of his public ministry at his baptism in the Jordan. The last pictures of the baby Jesus show a small refugee in Egypt (cf.Mt 2.14-15) and then one who returned to Nazareth (cf.Mt 2.19-23). The first pictures of Jesus as a young adult show him in the crowd by the Jordan River when he came to be baptized by his relative John the Baptist as one of many of his people (cf.Mt 3,13-17).

25. This baptism was not like ours, which leads us into the life of grace; it was rather a consecration at the beginning of the great mission of his life. The Gospel says that Jesus' baptism was the reason for the joy and pleasure of the Father: "You are my beloved Son" (Lk 3.22). Immediately Jesus appeared filled with the Holy Spirit and was led into the desert by the Spirit. So he was ready to set out to preach and work miracles, to liberate and heal (cf.Lk 4.1-14). Every young person who feels called to a mission in this world is invited to hear inside the same words that God the Father addresses to him: "You are my beloved Son".

26. Among these stories we find one that shows Jesus as an adolescent. It is the return to Nazareth with his parents after they had lost him and found him again in the temple (cf.Lk 2.41-51). Here it is said that he was "obedient to them" (Lk 2.51) because he did not deny his family. Luke immediately adds that Jesus grew up and his wisdom increased and that he found favor with God and men (cf.Lk 2.52). That is to say that he was preparing and during this period of time he deepened his relationship with his father and with others. Saint John Paul II declared that Jesus was not only growing physically. Rather, "there was also a spiritual growth in Jesus", because the fullness of grace in Jesus was appropriate to his age, "There was always fullness, but an abundance that grew with age".[7]

27. On the basis of these biblical statements we can say that Jesus was “educated” in his youth. He has prepared to carry out his father's plan. The period of his growth and youth led him on his highest mission.

28. As an adolescent and adolescent, his relationship with his father was that of his beloved son. He felt drawn to his father, grew up and took care of his father's things: "Didn't you know that I have to be in what belongs to my father?" (Lk 2.49). But we must not imagine Jesus as a young loner or as a young person who only thinks of himself. His relationship with the people was that of a young person who fully participated in the life of the family that was well integrated in the village. He had learned his father's trade and then followed him as a carpenter. Therefore, on one occasion in the Gospel, he is referred to as "the carpenter's son" (Mt 13.55) and another time simply as "the carpenter" (Mk 6.3). This detail shows that he was a youth in the village like the others and had perfectly normal relationships. Nobody perceived him as strange or aloof from the other youngsters. Precisely for this reason, in view of Jesus' sermon, people did not know how to get this wisdom from: "Isn't that Joseph's son?" (Lk 4,22).

29. In fact, "Jesus did not grow up in a self-contained relationship with Mary and Joseph, which would have occupied him completely, but he liked to move in the wider family circle, where there were relatives and friends."[8] We understand, therefore, that at the time of the return from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the parents were not concerned about the assumption that the twelve-year-old boy (cf.Lk 2,42) would go with the people casually, although they hadn't seen him for a whole day: "They said he was in the pilgrimage group and traveled a day's distance" (Lk 2.44). Sure, they thought, Jesus is in the middle of it, walking back and forth with the others, joking with his peers, listening to the stories of the adults and sharing the joys and sorrows of the caravan. The Greek expression Luke uses for the caravan of pilgrims -synodía - denotes precisely this “fellowship on the way” in which the Holy Family participates. Thanks to the trust of his parents, Jesus can move freely and learn to walk with everyone else.

His youth gives us light

30. These aspects of Jesus' life can inspire any young adolescent as they prepare for their mission. That means maturing in relation to the father as well as in the awareness of belonging to a family and a community. One has to mature in openness to the fulfillment of the Spirit and to be guided in order to accomplish the mission entrusted by God, one's own calling. None of this should be neglected in youth ministry in order not to create projects that isolate young people from their families and the world or turn them into an elitist minority, protected from any risk of infection. Rather, we need projects that strengthen them, accompany them and direct them towards encounters with others, generous service and mission.

31. Jesus does not give you young people light from afar or from without. His light emanates from his own youth, which he shares with you. It is very important to look at the young Jesus as the Gospels describe him, because he was really one of you and we can read many aspects of the youthful heart from him: “Jesus had an unconditional trust in the Father, he has it Friendship cultivated with his disciples and has remained loyal to them even in moments of crisis. He had deep compassion for the weakest, especially the poor, the sick, the sinners and the excluded. He had the courage to oppose the religious and political authorities of his time; he has had the experience of being misunderstood and outcast; he has experienced fear in the face of suffering and weakness in passion; he has looked to the future and has entrusted himself to the safe hands of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. All young people can find themselves in Jesus. "[9]

32. On the other hand, Jesus was risen and wants us to share in the novelty of his resurrection. He is the true youth of an old world. He is also the youth of a universe that is "in labor pangs" (Rom 8.22) is waiting to be clothed anew with his light and his life. In his vicinity we can drink from the true source that keeps our dreams, our plans, our great ideals alive and urges us to proclaim what makes life worth living. We can read the call to the true youth of the resurrected in two curious details of the Gospel of Mark. On the one hand, in the story of the Lord's Passion, there appears a fearful young man who wanted to follow Jesus but then ran away naked (cf. 14: 51-52). The young man did not have the strength to dare everything to follow the Lord. On the other side, near the empty tomb, we see a young man "who was dressed in a white robe" (16: 5). He invited people to overcome fear and proclaimed the joy of the resurrection (cf. 16: 6-7).

33. The Lord calls us to light stars on the night of other young people. He invites us to contemplate the true stars, those so different signs that He gives us so that we do not see in silence, but imitate the sower who looked at the stars in order to plow the field. God lights stars for us so that we can move forward: “The stars shine happily at their posts. If he calls them, they answer «(bar 3.34-35). But Christ himself is for us the great light of hope and guidance in our darkness, for he is "the shining morning star" (Rev. 22,16).

The youth of the church

34. Being young is less a question of age than a state of the heart. An old institution like the church can therefore renew itself and become young again at various stages in its long history. In fact, in her most tragic moments, she hears the call to return to the essence of her first love. Recalling this truth, the Second Vatican Council said: “Since it is rich in a long history which always remains alive in it, and at the same time it is on the way through time towards human perfection and the ultimate goal of history and life , she is the true youth of the world. ”In her it is always possible to encounter Christ,“ the companion and friend of young people ”.[10]

A church that can be renewed

35. Let us ask the Lord to deliver the Church from those who want to make it old, to pin it to the past, to slow it down and to immobilize it. Let us also ask that he rid the Church of another temptation: to believe that she is young when she responds to all that the world has to offer her; to believe that if it hides its message and adapts to others it will renew itself. No. She is young when she is herself and when she receives the ever new power of the Word of God, the Eucharist, the presence of Christ and the power of his Spirit every day. It is young when it is able to return to its source again and again.

36. It is true that we as members of the Church must not be strange characters. Everyone must be able to feel like brothers and sisters and neighbors like the apostles who found "favor with the whole people" (Acts 2.47, see 4.21.23; 5.13). At the same time, however, we must have the courage to be different, to show other dreams that the world cannot give, and to bear witness to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, strength, forgiveness, loyalty to our own Vocation, prayer, struggle for justice and for the common good, love for the poor and social friendship.

37. The Church of Christ can always be tempted to lose enthusiasm because it no longer hears the call of the Lord to take the risk of faith, to give everything without weighing the dangers, and to return to false worldly safeguards search. There it is precisely the young people who can help her to stay young, not to succumb to corruption, not to stand still, not to become proud, not to turn into a sect. You can help her grow poorer and more able to testify, stand by the last and the outcast, fight for justice, and humbly be challenged. They can bring the beauty of youth into the Church by stimulating "the ability" to "enjoy what begins;" to surrender without expecting anything in return; to renew and reach for new achievements «.[11]

38. Those of us who are no longer young need opportunities to be close to her voice and her incentive, because “closeness creates the conditions for making the Church a place of dialogue and witness of brotherhood that fascinates us «.[12] We have to create more spaces where the voice of young people can be heard: »Listening enables the exchange of gifts in a space that is based on empathy. [...] At the same time, it creates the conditions for proclaiming the Gospel in such a way that it actually reaches the hearts in a memorable and fruitful way. "[13]

A church that pays attention to the signs of the times

39. "Although God, religion and the Church may appear to many young people as empty words, they are very receptive to the figure of Jesus when it is presented attractively and effectively."[14] Therefore, the church must not be too self-centered, but above all reflect Jesus Christ. Consequently, she must humbly admit that some things need to be changed, and to that end she must also listen to the opinions and even criticism of young people.

40. The Synod recognized that “a significant number of young people, for a variety of reasons, do not expect anything from the Church because they feel that it has no meaning in their lives. Some even explicitly request to be left in peace because they find their presence annoying and even irritating. This request often does not arise from an uncritical, impulsive contempt, but is among other things. attributed to serious, respectable reasons such as sexual and financial scandals, improperly prepared priests who cannot pick up young people with their sensitivities accordingly, little care in the preparation of the sermon and the presentation of the word of God, the passive role that young people play within assigned to the Christian community, and the efforts of the church to convey its positions in doctrine and ethics to today's society. "[15]

41. Even if there are young people who are satisfied with a church that humbly assures itself of its gifts and knows how to criticize honestly and fraternally, other young people want a church that listens more and not all the time damn the world. They don't want to see a silent and shy church, but also not one that is always at war over two or three issues on which it is fixated. To be believable in the eyes of young people, they sometimes need to regain humility and simply listen and see a light in what others say that can help them understand the gospel more deeply. A church on the defensive, which loses humility, gives up listening and which does not allow itself to be questioned, loses its youthfulness and turns into a museum. How can it accommodate young people's dreams like this? If she also possesses the truth of the gospel, it does not mean that she understood it in its fullness; Rather, it must keep growing in the understanding of this inexhaustible treasure.[16]

42. For example, an overly fearful and rigidly structured church can be constantly critical of all statements in defense of women's rights and constantly point out the risks and possible errors of such demands. In contrast, a living church can respond by paying attention to the legitimate claims of women who demand greater justice and equality. She can remember the past and admit a long history of authoritarian behavior on the part of men, submission and various forms of slavery, abuse and macho violence. With this perspective, she can make these demands for rights her own. She will with conviction make her contribution to greater reciprocity between men and women, even if she does not agree with everything that some feminist groups propose. On this line, the Synod has expressed the will that the Church »renew its commitment against all sexually motivated discrimination and violence«.[17] This is the reaction of a church that keeps itself young and lets itself be questioned and stimulated by the sensitivity of young people.

Maria, the girl from Nazareth

43. Mary appears in the heart of the Church. She is the great example for a young church that wants to follow Christ with freshness and docility. When she was very young, she received the angel's message and did not fail to ask questions (cf.Lk1.34). But she had a willing soul and said: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1,38).

44. »The power of the“ yes ”of the young Maria is still impressive. The power of that "let it be done to me" that she said to the angel. This was not a passive or resigned consent. It was something other than a “yes”, in the sense of a “good, let's see what happens”. Maria didn't know this expression: “Let's see what happens.” She was determined, she understood what it was about and said “Yes” without further ado. It was more, it was something different. It was the “yes” of someone who wants to get involved and take risks and want to put everything on one card, with no other guarantee than the certainty of being the bearer of a promise. And I ask each of you: Do you feel that you are the bearers of a promise? What promise do I have in my heart that I must stand up for? Mary would undoubtedly have a difficult mission, but the difficulties were no reason to say "no". It was clear that there would be complications, but they would not have been the same complications that occur when cowardice paralyzes us because we hadn't cleared everything up beforehand. Maria did not take out any life insurance! Maria took the risk and that's why she was strong, that's why she is oneInfluencer, is she the oneInfluencerGod! The "yes" and the desire to serve were stronger than the doubts and difficulties. "[18]

45. Without excuses or illusions, she “knew how to accompany her son's pain […]; to support him with the look and to envelop him with the heart. A pain that she suffered but that did not bend her. She was the strong woman of yes, who supports and accompanies, gives protection and hugs. She is the great guardian of hope [...] From her we learn to say yes to the persevering patience and creativity of those who, in situations where everything seems lost, do not lose heart and start all over again «.[19]

46.Mary was the girl with a great soul who exulted with joy (cf.Lk 1.47). She was the girl with eyes enlightened by the Holy Spirit who, by faith, contemplated life and kept everything in her heart (cf.Lk1.19.51). She was the restless, always ready to leave, who did not think of her own plans when she heard that her relative needed her. Rather, she set off in a hurry through the mountains (cf.Lk 1,39).

47. And when it came to protecting her child, she and Joseph went to a distant country (cf.Mt 2.13-14). Therefore she remained among the apostles, united in prayer, in anticipation of the Holy Spirit (cf.Acts1.14). So the young church arose in her presence with her apostles on the move to give rise to a new world (cf.Acts 2,4-11).

48. Today this girl is the mother who watches over her children, over us, her sons and daughters, who often go through life tired and needy, but who want the light of hope not to go out. That's what we want: that the light of hope not go out. Our mother looks to this pilgrim people, this people of young people that she loves and who searches for her in the quiet of her own heart, despite the noise, conversations and distractions along the way. But before the mother's eyes there is only room for hopeful silence. And so Mary gives light anew to our youth.

Young saints

49. The heart of the Church is also full of young saints who gave their lives for Christ, many of them to the point of martyrdom. They have been a precious reflection of the young Jesus and shine below us to stimulate us and to get us out of sleepiness. The Synod emphasized that “many young saints have shone upon the features of adolescence in all their beauty and have been true prophets of change for their time; their example shows what young people can do when they open up to an encounter with Christ ”.[20]

50. “It is through the holiness of young people that the Church can renew her spiritual fervor and apostolic strength. The balm of holiness produced by the good lives of so many young people can heal the wounds of the Church and the world and bring us back to that fullness of love to which we have always been called: the young saints urge us to return to our first love ( see.Rev. 2,4).«[21] There are saints who have not grown up and who have left us with the testimony of a different way of living the youth. Let us at least remember some of them from different historical epochs, each of which exemplified holiness in their own way.

51. Saint Sebastian was a young captain in the Praetorian Guard in the third century. It is said that he spoke of Christ everywhere and tried to convert his comrades until he was commanded to renounce his faith. Because he did not consent, they shot him with a shower of arrows. However, he survived and continued to preach Christ without fear. Eventually they scourged him until he died.

52. When St. Francis of Assisi was very young and full of dreams, he heard the call of Jesus to be as poor as he and to restore the Church with his testimony. He gave up everything with joy. He is the Saint of universal brotherhood, the brother of all who praised the Lord for his creatures. He died in 1226.

53.Saint Joan of Arc was born in 1412. She was a young country woman who, despite her youth, went to battle to defend France from the invaders. Misunderstood for her looks and way of living the faith, she died at the stake.

54. Blessed Andrew Phû Yên was a young Vietnamese of the seventeenth century. He was a catechist and helped the missionaries. He was captured because of his belief and, because he refused to renounce, killed. As he died he said: "Jesus".

55. In the same century, holy Kateri Tekakwitha, an indigenous lay young woman from North America, was persecuted for her belief and escaped more than three hundred kilometers through the wilderness on foot. She consecrated herself to God and died with the words: "Jesus, I love you!"

56. Saint Domenico Savio offered all his sufferings to Mary. When Saint Don Bosco taught him that holiness meant always being cheerful, he opened his heart to an infectious cheerfulness. He sought to be close to the most marginalized and sick comrades. He died in 1857, at the age of fourteen, saying, "What a miracle I see here!"

57. St. Theresa of the Child Jesus was born in 1873. At the age of fifteen, after overcoming many difficulties, she succeeded in entering a convent of the Carmelites. She lived the little way of complete trust in the Lord's love and offered herself to nourish the fire of love that moves the Church with her prayer.

58. Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá was a young Argentine, the son of an important chief of the indigenous population. He became a Salesian seminarian with a strong desire to return to his tribe to bring him Jesus Christ. He died in 1905.

59. Blessed Isidore Bakanja was a layman from the Congo who gave testimony of his faith. He was tortured for introducing Christianity to other young people. He died forgiving his tormentor in 1909.

60. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who died in 1925, "was a young man with a stirring cheerfulness, a cheerfulness which also outweighed many of the difficulties of his life".[22] He said he wanted to reward the love of Jesus in communion by visiting and helping the poor.

61. Blessed Marcel Callo was a young French man who died in 1945. He was a prisoner in a concentration camp in Austria, where he worked hard to strengthen his fellow prisoners in their faith.

62. Blessed young Chiara Badano, who died in 1990, »learned how love can transform pain […] The key to her peace and joy was total trust in the Lord and acceptance of sickness too as a mysterious expression of his will for their good and for the good of all. "[23]

63. May these young people, united with many contemporaries who have often lived the Gospel from the ground up in silence and secret, intercede for the Church to be full of cheerful, courageous and enthusiastic young people who are new to the world Give testimonies of holiness.


You are the now of God

64. After looking at the Word of God, we cannot just say that young people are the future of the world. You are the present and enrich it with your contribution. A young person is no longer a child; he is in a phase of life in which he begins to take on various responsibilities and to participate with adults in the development of the family, society and the Church. But times are changing and the question arises: What are young people like today, what situation are they in?

Positive attitude

65. The Synod recognized that the faithful of the Church do not always take the position of Jesus. Instead of willingly and genuinely listening to the young people, one sometimes "prefers to be there with ready-made answers and patent recipes, without admitting the young people's questions in all their novelty and without understanding the provocation inherent in them."[24] However, when the church abandons rigid schemes and opens up to listen willingly and attentively to young people, this empathy is enriching for them because it “enables young people to contribute to the community and help it to embrace new sensitivities and fully to ask new questions «.[25]

66. We adults today stand in danger of listing the difficulties and mistakes of today's youth. That may earn us some applause because we seem to be experts in identifying negative points and dangers. But what would be the result of such an attitude? More and more distance, less closeness and less mutual help.

67. The attentive gaze of one called to be a father, shepherd or leader of young people is to find the little flame that continues to burn and the reed that seems to be breaking but has not yet broken (cf. .Isa42.3). It is the ability to discover ways where others see only walls and to recognize possibilities where others only see danger. Such is the gaze of God the Father, able to bring out and nourish the seeds of good sown in the hearts of young people. The heart of every young person must therefore be viewed as a “sacred ground” which harbors the seeds of divine life and before which we must “take off our shoes” in order to approach and deepen the mystery.

Diverse youth

68. We could try to describe the characteristics of the young people of today, but first I would like to take up a remark made by the Synod Fathers: “The composition of the Synod made it clear how many different regions of the world were represented and contributed, which led to them showed how beautiful it is to be a universal church. Although the world is becoming more and more global, it was important for the Synod Fathers to highlight the numerous differences in contexts and cultures, even within a country. There is a multitude of youth milieus and this goes so far that in some countries there is a tendency to use the term “youth” in the plural. In addition, the age group (16-29 years) that was the focus of this synod is not homogeneous, but consists of groups in very specific life situations. "[26]

69. From a demographic point of view alone, there are many young people in some countries, while others have very low birth rates. But »another difference arises from history, whereby countries and continents with an old Christian tradition, whose culture is the bearer of an inheritance that cannot be given up, contrast with countries and continents which are shaped by other religious traditions and in which Christianity has only been part of it Represents a recent minority. In other areas, Christian communities and the young people who belong to them face persecution. "[27] It is also necessary to distinguish between young people "who, as a result of globalization, have access to an increasing range of opportunities, and those who live apart from society or in rural areas and suffer the effects of forms of exclusion and segregation" .[28]

70. There are many more differences, but they would be difficult to go into in detail here. Therefore, it does not seem appropriate to me to attempt a comprehensive analysis of the realities of life and the situation of young people in today's world. But because I cannot ignore reality either, I will briefly pick up on some of the contributions that reached me in part before the Synod, and others that I was able to take up during the Synod.

Some things that affect young people

71. Youth is not something that can be analyzed by abstract concepts. In reality there is no such thing as “youth”, there are only young people with their concrete lives. In today's advanced world, many of these lives are at the mercy of suffering and manipulation.

Young people in a world in crisis

72. The Synod Fathers noted with pain that “many young people live in war zones and suffer countless forms of violence such as kidnapping, extortion, organized crime, human trafficking, slavery and sexual exploitation, war rape, and so on. Other young people find it difficult to find a place in their society because of their beliefs and suffer various forms of persecution, including death. Many young people live in an environment of crime and violence - because they are forced to do so or have no alternative: as child soldiers, in armed criminal gangs, in drug trafficking, in terrorism, etc. Many young people's lives are broken by this violence. Abuse and addiction, as well as violence and astray, are some of the reasons why young people, and particularly often certain ethnic and social groups, go to prison. "[29]

73. Many young people are indoctrinated and instrumentalized and used as cannon fodder or raiding party to destroy, intimidate or mock others. And worst of all, many become individualists who are hostile and suspicious of everyone and thus become easy prey to dehumanizing offers and destructive plans developed by political groups or economic forces.

74. However, there are far more young people in the world who suffer from various forms of social exclusion and marginalization for religious, ethnic or economic reasons. »Let me just remind you of the difficult situation of pregnant girls and young women as well as the scourge of abortion and the spread of HIV, various forms of addiction (drugs, gambling, pornography, etc.) and the situation of children and adolescents who do not a roof over your head, living on the street without a family or financial means. "[30] When it comes to women, these situations of marginalization become doubly painful and difficult.

75. We must not be a church that does not feel pain in the face of these tragedies of its young sons and daughters. We must never get used to it, because whoever is unable to cry is not a mother. We want to cry so that society too becomes more motherly, so that instead of killing it learns to give birth, so that it becomes a promise of life. We cry as we remember the young people who have already died of misery and violence, and we ask society to learn to be a helping mother. This pain does not go away, it accompanies us every step of the way, because reality cannot be hidden. The worst we can do is apply the secular mindset recipe, which is to numb young people with different messages, with different distractions, with banalities.

76. Perhaps “those who, like us, lead a more or less carefree life [...] do not understand how to cry. Certain realities of life can only be seen with eyes that are washed clean by tears. I invite each of you to ask yourself: Have I learned to cry? Have I learned to cry when I see a hungry child, a drugged child on the street, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child used as a slave by society? Or is my crying the stubborn cry of someone who cries because he would like more? "[31] Try to learn to cry for the young people who are worse off than you. Mercy and compassion are also expressed in tears. If you cannot bring up crying, ask the Lord to allow you to shed tears for the suffering of others. Only when you know how to cry will you truly be able to do something for others with all your heart.

77. Sometimes the suffering of young people is very painful; it is a pain that cannot be put into words, a pain that hits us like a slap in the face. These young people can only tell God that they suffer a lot, that it is too difficult for them to carry on, that they no longer believe in anyone. But in this heartbreaking cry the words of Jesus become present: “Blessed are the mourners; for they will be comforted "(Mt 5.4). There are young people who were able to find their way in life because of this divine promise. May there always be a Christian community that is close to the suffering young people and that brings these words to life with gestures, hugs and concrete help.

78. It is true that the mighty provide some help, but often at a high cost. In many poor countries, economic support from some richer countries or international organizations is linked to the adoption of Western ideas about sexuality, marriage, life, or social justice. This ideological colonization is particularly harmful to young people. At the same time, we see how certain advertising teaches people constant dissatisfaction and contributes to a throwaway culture in which these very young people ultimately end up as single-use material themselves.

79. Today's culture presents an image of man that is strongly oriented towards the ideal of youth. It is considered beautiful who appears to be youthful, who undergoes therapies to make the traces of time disappear. Young bodies are constantly being used for profit in advertising. The ideal of beauty is young, but let's be careful because that's not praise for young people. It just means that adults want that youthfulness for themselves, not that they respect, love, and or care for young people.

80. Some young people »find family traditions […] overwhelming and escape them under the pressure of a globalized culture that sometimes leaves them alone without reference points. In other parts of the world there is no real generation conflict between young people and adults, but people have become estranged from one another. Sometimes adults fail or fail to pass on the basic values ​​of existence, or they adopt a forced youthful style that reverses the intergenerational relationship. In this way, the relationship between young people and adults runs the risk of remaining purely on the emotional level without affecting the educational and cultural dimension. "[32] How much harm is this to young people, even if some are not even aware of it! The young people themselves have told us that by doing so, the transmission of the faith "in some countries without freedom of expression, where young people are prevented from going to church"[33], is severely affected.

Wishes, wounds and attempts

81. Young people recognize that the body and sexuality are essential to their life and to the development of their identity. However, in a world that is overemphasized on sexuality, it is difficult to maintain a positive relationship with one's own body and to live affective relationships in a balanced manner. Because of these and other causes, sexual morality is often "a reason for incomprehension and distance from the church, since it is felt as a space for judgment and punishment". At the same time, young people express “the express wish to deal with questions about the difference between male and female identity, reciprocity / reciprocity between men and women and homosexuality”.[34]

82. In our time, »developments in biomedical science and technology exert a strong influence on body perception, so that the idea that the body is infinitely changeable suggests itself. The ability to intervene in the DNA, the ability to smuggle artificial elements into the organism (Cyborgs) and the development of the neurosciences offer great opportunities, but at the same time also raise anthropological and ethical questions. "[35] They sometimes make one forget that life is a gift, that we are created and limited beings, that we can easily be instrumentalized by those with technological power.[36] “In addition, in some circles of young people the fascination for risky behavior is spreading as an opportunity to experience oneself, to experience strong emotions and to gain recognition. [...] These phenomena, to which the younger generations are exposed, represent an obstacle to a harmonious maturation process. "[37]

83. In young people, there are also blows of fate, failures, sad memories that are deeply imprinted on their souls. "These injuries" often "stem from defeats in one's own history, from disappointed wishes, suffered discrimination and injustice, the feeling of not being loved or recognized." did wrong. "[38] Jesus is present in these young people's crosses to offer them his friendship, his relief, his healing accompaniment, and the Church wants to be his instrument on this path to inner recovery and peace of heart.

84. In some young people we see a longing for God, even if it is not always entirely in accord with the God of revelation. In others we can see a dream of brotherhood, which is not insignificant. Arguably there is a genuine desire in many to develop the inherent skills in order to make a contribution in the world. In some we see a special artistic streak or a search for harmony with nature. In others there may be a great need for communication. In many of them we will probably find a deep desire for another life. These are real starting points, inner resources, open to a word that awakens something that enlightens and encourages them.

85. The Synod dealt in particular with three very important issues, the conclusions of which I wish to embrace verbatim, although further analysis and more appropriate and relevant answers remain to be found.

The digital environment

86. »Digital possibilities shape today's world. It is normal for broad strata of humanity to be constantly immersed in the digital world. Here it is no longer just about "using" means of communication, but one lives in a thoroughly digitized culture, which has a strong impact on the perception of time and space as well as on the perception of oneself, of others and of the world. ways of communicating, learning, gathering information, and establishing relationships with others. An attitude towards reality in which pictures tend to be more important than listening and reading and which influences how we learn and develop critical thinking. "[39]

87. The Internet and social networks have created a new way of communicating and networking, and they 'are a space where young people can spend a lot of time and easily meet, even if not all have the same access, which is especially good for applies to some regions of the world. However, they are an extraordinary opportunity for conversations, encounters and exchanges with other people and also offer access to information and knowledge. In addition, the digital world enables socio-political participation and civic engagement, and independent information can be circulated more easily, effectively protecting the most vulnerable by exposing violations of their rights. In many countries the internet and social networks are Today it is indispensable as a medium to reach young people and, among other things, to involve them in pastoral initiatives and activities. "[40]

88. But in order to understand this phenomenon in its entirety, it must be recognized that, like all human reality, it is also flawed and flawed. It is unhealthy to confuse communication with purely virtual contact. In fact, the digital world is »also a place of loneliness, manipulation, exploitation and violence, which in extreme cases can be found in the dark web manifest. Digital media run the risk of users becoming dependent, isolating themselves and losing contact with concrete reality, which hampers the development of real interpersonal relationships. New forms of violence are spreading through social media, such as B. Cyberbullying; the Internet also serves as a channel for the dissemination of pornography and the exploitation of people for sexual purposes or through gambling. "[41]

89. It should also not be forgotten that gigantic economic interests are at work in the digital world, »which exert subtle and invasive control and create mechanisms by which conscience and democratic processes are manipulated. Many platforms work in such a way that, in the end, often only like-minded people meet, making it difficult to deal with something different. These closed circles facilitate the spread of false information and news, and fuel prejudice and hatred. The spread of fake news is up Expression of a culture that has lost its sense of the truth and adjusts facts for the benefit of individual interests. People's reputations are jeopardized by superficial online practices. A phenomenon that also affects the Church and her pastors. "[42]

90. In a pre-Synod document drawn up by three hundred young people from around the world, they indicated that online relationships can become inhuman. »Digital contexts make us blind to the vulnerability of other people and prevent us from self-reflection. Problems like pornography distort young people's perceptions of human sexuality. Technology used in this way creates a deceptive parallel reality that ignores human dignity. "[43] Diving into the virtual world has favored a kind of "digital migration", ie a distancing from the family, from cultural and religious values, which leads many people into a world of solitude and self-discovery, to the point that they experience a lack of rootedness, even though they physically stay in the same place. The new and overflowing life of young people who want to assert their own personality is facing a new challenge today: to interact with a real and virtual world that they step alone, like an unknown continent. Today's young people are the first to create this synthesis between the personal, the idiosyncrasies of each culture and the global. But that requires that they move from virtual contact to good, healthy communication.

Migrants as a paradigm of our time

91. How can we forget the many young people who are affected by migration? Migration »is a structural phenomenon worldwide and not a temporary exceptional situation. Migration can take place within a country or between different countries. The Church's concern particularly concerns people fleeing war, violence, political or religious persecution, natural disasters, including those caused by climate change, and extreme poverty: many of them are young. They are usually looking for opportunities for themselves and their families. You dream of a better future and want to create the conditions for it to come true. "[44] The migrants »remind us of a fundamental aspect of the faith, namely that we are“ strangers and guests on earth ”(Hebrew 11,13)«.[45]

92. Other migrants are “attracted to the culture of the West and set out with expectations, some of which are unrealistic, and which can hardly be disappointed. Unscrupulous human traffickers, often associated with drug and arms cartels, take advantage of the weaknesses of migrants who are repeatedly confronted with violence, human trafficking, psychological and physical abuse and untold suffering along the way. The particular vulnerability of unaccompanied minor migrants and the situation of people who are forced to spend many years in refugee camps or who are stuck in transit countries for a long time without continuing their training or being able to do anything with their talents should be emphasized here. In some arrival countries, migration phenomena trigger alarms and fears, which are often fueled and abused for political purposes. In this way a xenophobic mentality spreads, one closes oneself off and withdraws into oneself. We have to react decisively to that. "[46]

93. »Young people who emigrate experience separation from their original environment and often also a cultural and religious uprooting. The break also affects the communities at the place of origin, which lose their strongest members with the greatest initiative, as well as families, especially if one or both parents emigrate and leave their children behind in their country of origin. The church plays an important role as a point of contact for the youth of these torn families. But migrants also experience encounters between people and cultures: For the communities and societies in which they arrive, they are an opportunity to enrich themselves and promote the holistic human development of all. Welcome initiatives that are related to the church play an important role from this point of view and can fill congregations that are able to carry them out with new life. "[47]

94. “Thanks to the different origins of the Synod Fathers, the topic of migrants was examined from numerous perspectives at the Synod, especially from the countries of origin and arrival. In addition, there was an alarm call from those churches whose members are forced to flee from war and persecution and who perceive this forced migration as a threat to their very existence. Precisely because all of these different perspectives find their way into the church, it is put in a position to play a prophetic role vis-à-vis society on the subject of migration. "[48] Above all, I ask young people not to fall for those who try to incite young migrants by describing them as dangerous and as if they do not have the same inalienable dignity as everyone.

Put an end to all forms of abuse

95. For some time now we have been urged to hear the cry of the victims of various types of abuse by some bishops, priests, religious and lay people. These sins cause “suffering in their victims that lasts a lifetime and cannot be healed by repentance. This phenomenon is widespread in society, it also affects the Church and constitutes a serious obstacle to its mission. "[49]

96. It is true that "the serious evil of sexual abuse of minors is unfortunately a historically widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies," especially in families themselves and in various institutions, the extent of which has been particularly recent, "thanks to one Changes in Consciousness of Public Opinion «became visible. "The worldwide spread of this evil confirms how grave it is for our societies, but does not diminish its abomination within the Church" and "In the justified anger of men the Church sees the reflection of the wrath of God betrayed and slapped by these shameful devotees has been".[50]

97. "The Synod reaffirms its resolute commitment to the implementation of rigorous preventive measures to prevent this from happening again, starting with the selection and training of those who will be given responsible and educational roles."[51] At the same time, the decision to carry out "these necessary actions and sanctions" must no longer be given up.[52] And all with the grace of Christ. There is no going back.

98. “There are different forms of abuse: abuse of power, abuse of money, abuse of conscience, and sexual abuse. The task here is clearly to eradicate the forms of exercise of authority into which they flow and the lack of a sense of responsibility and transparency in the handling of many cases. The desire for domination, a lack of dialogue and transparency, forms of double life, spiritual emptiness and psychological instability are the ground on which corruption thrives. "[53] Clericalism is a constant temptation for those priests “who have received the office as one to exerciseMakes and not to be offered as one with selflessness and generosityservice. That attitude leads to the view that one belongs to a group that has all the answers and no longer needs to listen and learn nothing. "[54] Clericalism undoubtedly harbors the risk of consecrated persons losing respect for the sacred and inalienable value of every person and their freedom.

99. Together with the Synod Fathers, I would like to thank with affection and appreciation those “who have the courage to publicly denounce the bad things they have suffered: they are determined to help the Church to develop an awareness of what has happened and of the necessity to react."[55] The Synod also pays tribute to the sincere commitment of countless lay people, priests, consecrated women and men and bishops who work sincerely and devotedly every day in the service of the youth and encourages them to continue. Your work is a silently growing forest. Many young people who took part in the Synod expressed their gratitude to those who accompanied them and emphasized a great need for people to relate to. "[56]

100. Thank God the priests involved in these horrific crimes are not the majority. Most do loyal and generous service. I ask the young people to be inspired by this majority. Whenever you see a priest who is at risk because he has lost the joy of his ministry, because he is looking for affective compensation, or is off course, then dare to remind him of his obligation to God and his people, him that Proclaim the gospel and encourage him to stay on the right path. In this way you are providing invaluable assistance in the very fundamental area of ​​prevention, which prevents such atrocities from happening again. This black cloud also becomes a challenge for young people who love Jesus Christ and his Church, because they can do a lot to heal this wound if they use their ability to renew, to complain, to demand cohesion and testimony, to renew Dream and start over.

101. This is not the only sin of the members of the Church, whose history has many shadows. Our sins are visible to all; they are mercilessly reflected in the wrinkles of the millennial face of our mother and teacher; because she has been on the road for two thousand years and the "joy and hope, sadness and fear of people"[57] Splits. And she goes her way as she is, without cosmetic surgery. She is not afraid to bring the sins of her members, which some of them sometimes seek to hide, before the fiery light of the word of the gospel, which cleanses and purifies. Nor does she stop praying ruefully every day: "God, be gracious to me according to your grace [...] my sin is always before my eyes" (Ps51,3.5). But let us remember that when the mother is wounded, one does not abandon the mother, but rather that one accompanies her so that she gains the strength and the ability to start over and over again.

102. In the midst of this drama, which rightly hurts our souls, "Jesus, the Lord who never leaves his Church, gives her the strength and the means for a new path".[58] So this dark moment, "with the invaluable help of young people, can actually be an opportunity for a reform of epoch-making implications"[59]to open to a new Pentecost and usher in a phase of purification and change that will bring new youth to the Church. But young people will be able to help much more if they feel in their hearts that they are part of the “holy and patient, faithful people of God, who are sustained and animated by the Holy Spirit”, because “it is precisely this holy people of God that will overcome the evil of clericalism liberate who is the fertile ground for all these atrocities «.[60]

There is a way out

103. In this chapter I was concerned with looking at the reality of young people in the world today. A few more aspects are dealt with in the following chapters. As I said earlier, this analysis is by no means exhaustive. I encourage the communities to respectfully and seriously examine the realities of their young people's lives in order to identify the most appropriate pastoral paths. But I don't want to end this chapter without addressing a few words to each of you.

104. I remind you of the good news that came to us on the morning of the resurrection: that in all the dark or painful situations we speak of, there is a way out. It is true, for example, that in the digital world you are at risk of self-isolation, isolation or empty pleasure. But don't forget that there are young people who are creative and sometimes brilliant in these areas too - like the young venerable Servant of God Carlo Acutis.

105. He knew very well that these mechanisms of communication, advertising and social networks can be used to lull us to sleep and make us dependent on consumption and the novelties we can buy, obsessed with leisure, enclosed in negativity . But he knew how to use the new communication techniques to spread the gospel and to convey values ​​and beauty.

106. He was not fooled.He saw that many young people, although they seem different, are ultimately often equal to the others and run after what the powerful force impose on them through the mechanisms of consumption and anesthesia. In this way they do not allow the gifts the Lord has given them to show up, they do not offer this world the very personal and unique abilities that God has planted in each of them. So, said Carlo, it happens that “all are born as originals, but many die as photocopies”. Don't let this happen to you.

107. Do not let them rob you of hope and joy, do not let them numb you to make you a slave to their interests. Dare to be more, because your being matters more than anything else. You don't need to look after your belongings or your appearance. You can be who you are from God, your Creator, when you recognize that you are called to great things. Call on the Holy Spirit and walk confidently towards the great goal: holiness. That way you won't be a photocopy. You will be completely yourself.

108. To do this, one has to recognize something very fundamental: Being young is not simply a search for fleeting joys and superficial successes. In order for adolescence to make sense of your resume, it must be a time of generous giving, sincere devotion, and sacrifice. It hurts, but it makes our lives fruitful. It is like a great poet once said:

"If, in order to find what I have found again,
I had to lose what I lost first
if i, to achieve what i have achieved,
first had to endure what I endured
if I, to be in love now,
had to be injured first
is it right to have suffered what i have suffered
Is it right to have cried the way I cried.
'Cause after all that I've found
that one is not really happy about the joys,
if you haven't suffered it before.
Because after all I understood
that whatever blossoms the tree bears,
lives from what he has underground. "

109. If you are young but feel weak, tired, or disappointed, ask Jesus to renew you. With him there is no lack of hope. You can do the same when you feel that you are in vices, bad habits, selfishness, or unhealthy comfort. Jesus, who is full of life, wants to help you so that it is worthwhile to be young. In this way you will not withhold from the world the contribution that only you can make because you are unique and unrepeatable as you are.

110. But I would also like to remind you that it is very difficult »to fight against our own desires and against the stalkings and temptations of evil and the selfish world when we isolate ourselves. It is such a bombardment that tempts us that - if we are too much alone - we easily lose our sense of reality, our inner clarity, and succumb. "[62] This is especially true for you young people, because together you have an admirable strength. When you are enthusiastic about a community life, you are capable of great sacrifices for others and for the community. Isolation, on the other hand, weakens you and makes you vulnerable to the worst evils of our time.


The great message for all young people


111. Regardless of all external circumstances, I would now like to proclaim to all young people the most important thing, the first thing, that which should never be kept secret: a message that contains three great truths that we must all hear over and over again.

A god who is love

112. First of all, I want to tell everyone the first truth: “God loves you.” If you've heard this before, it doesn't matter, I want to remind you: God loves you. Never doubt it, no matter what happens to you in life. No matter what situation you are in, you are infinitely loved.

113. Perhaps your fatherhood experience is not the best, your earthly father may have been aloof and absent, or on the contrary, dominant and restrictive. Or he just wasn't the father you needed. I dont know. But what I can tell you with certainty is that you can surrender yourself completely carefree to your divine Father, that God who gave you life and who continues to give it to you again and again. He will hold you tight and at the same time you will feel that he completely respects your freedom.

114. In his word we find many expressions of his love. It's like he's been looking for different ways to show them off, to see if any of these words could reach your heart. He shows himself, for example, in the figure of those loving parents who play with their children: »I drew her with human bonds, with ties of love. I was there for them like those who lift babies to their cheeks« (Hos 11,4).

Sometimes he shows himself lovingly like those mothers who genuinely love their children, with a tender love that can neither forget nor leave: »Can a woman forget her child without showing mercy towards her biological son? And even if she forgets him: I won't forget you« (Isa 49,15).

He even turns out to be a lover who tattoos his lover on his hand so that her face is always close to him: »Look: I have drawn you in my hands« (Isa 49,16).

Elsewhere he emphasizes the strength and firmness of his love, which is invincible: »May the mountains give way and the hills shake - my grace will not leave you and the covenant of my peace will not shake« (Isa 54,10).

Or he tells us that we have always been expected because we don't just happen to be in this world. Even before we are, we already exist as a plan of his love: »I loved you with everlasting love; that is why I have remained loyal to you« (Jer31,3).

Or he lets us know that He recognizes our beauty in a way that no one else can recognize: »Because you are dear and valuable in my eyes and because I love you«(Isa 43,4).

Or he makes it clear to us that his love is not sad, but pure joy, which is always renewed when we let him love us:“The Lord your God is in your midst, a hero who brings salvation. He rejoices and rejoices over you, he renews his love, he rejoices over you and exults « (Zef 3.17 LXX).

115. You are really valuable to him, you are not insignificant, you are important to him, because you are the work of his hands. Therefore, he pays attention to you and remembers you with love. Trust the »Remembrance of God: His memory is not a“ hard disk ”that registers and archives all of our data; his memory is a heart that is soft with compassion, that delights in wiping out every trace of evil in us. "[63] He doesn't want to list your mistakes, rather he wants to help you learn from your defeats too. Because he loves you. Try to stay in silence for a moment and let him love you. Try to silence all voices and inner screams and stay in his loving embrace for a moment.

116. This is a love “that does not impose itself and that does not oppress itself, it does not exclude, it does not silence or remain silent, it neither humiliates nor submits. The love of the Lord is an everyday love, discreet and respectful, it loves freedom and it liberates, it is a love that heals and uplifts. The love of the Lord is more familiar with the ascent than with the fall, more with reconciliation than with prohibitions, more with the granting of new possibilities than with damnation, more with the future than with the past. "[64]

117. If he asks you for something, or if he just allows the challenges that life presents you, he expects you to give him space so that he can push you, so that you can move forward, so that he can develop and mature you can. He doesn't mind if you express your doubts about him. What worries him is that you are not talking to him, that you are not sincerely opening up to dialogue with him. The Bible reports that Jacob had a battle with God (cf.gene32: 25-31), but that did not turn him off the way of the Lord. In reality, it is he himself who admonishes us: "Come on, we want to argue with one another" (Isa 1.18). His love is so real, so true, so concrete that it offers us a relationship of sincere and fruitful dialogue. So let yourself be hugged by your heavenly Father in the loving face of his brave witnesses on earth!

Christ saves you

118. The second truth is that Christ gave himself out of perfect love to save you. His open arms on the cross are the most valuable sign of a friend who is able to go to the extreme:"Since he loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end" (Joh 13,1).

Saint Paul testified that he lived in trust in this love which gave everything:"What I now live in the flesh, I live in faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me" (Gal 2,20).

119. This Christ, who saved us from our sins on the cross, saves and redeems us today with the same power of his perfect self-giving. Look at his cross, cling to him, let yourself be saved, because "those who let him save them are freed from sin, from sadness, from inner emptiness and from loneliness".[65] And if you sin and go away, he will help you up again with the power of his cross. Never forget, “He forgives seventy-seven times. Time and again he loads us back onto his shoulders. No one can rob us of the dignity that this infinite and unshakable love gives us. With a sensitivity that never disappoints us and can always give us joy back, he allows us to lift our heads and start again. "[66]

120. We are saved through Jesus »: Because he loves us and cannot do otherwise. We can do whatever to him, but he loves us and saves us. Because only what you love can be saved. Only what you accept can be changed. The Lord's love is greater than all of our contradictions, than all of our weaknesses and than all of our limitations. But it is precisely with the help of our contradictions, weaknesses and limitations that he wants to write this love story. He accepted the prodigal son, he accepted Peter after his denial; he always, always, always accepts us when we have fallen and helps us to get up and get back on our feet. Because the real case - attention! -,the real case that can ruin our lives is to lie on the ground and not allow yourself to be helped.«[67]

121 His forgiveness and salvation are not something we have bought or what we must acquire by our works or efforts. He forgives and frees us free of charge. His devotion on the cross is so great that we can neither nor should we pay for it; we can only accept this gift with the greatest gratitude, with the joy of being so loved, even before we even think about it: "He loved us first" (see.1 Joh 4,19).

122. Young people loved by the Lord, how much are you worth when you have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ! Dear young friends, »You have no price! You are not a commodity that is up for auction! Please don't be bought, don't be seduced, don't get enslaved by the ideological colonizations that put ideas into our heads and in the end we become slaves, dependent, failed in life. You have no price: you have to keep repeating this to yourself: I'm not for sale, I have no price. I am free, I am free! Fall in love with this freedom, which is that which Jesus offers. "[68]

123. Look at the open arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved again and again. And when you come to confess your sins, firmly believe in His mercy that will free you from guilt. Look at his blood, which he has shed out of such great love, and let him purify you. So you can be born again and again.

He lives!

124. But there is a third truth that is inextricably linked with the previous one: He is alive! It should be remembered often because we run the risk of seeing Jesus Christ only as a good example from the past, as a memory, as someone who saved us two thousand years ago. It wouldn't do us any good, it wouldn't change us, it wouldn't set us free. He who fills us with his grace, who sets us free, who transforms us, who heals and comforts us, is someone who lives. It is the risen Christ, full of supernatural life force, clothed with infinite light. This is why St. Paul said: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless" (1 cor 15,17).

125. Only when he is alive can he be present at every moment in your life to fill it with light. So there will be no more loneliness or loneliness. Even if everyone went away, he would stay as he promised: "I am with you all days until the end of the world" (Mt 28.20). He fills everything with his invisible presence and wherever you go he will be waiting for you. Because not only has it come, but it comes and will continue to come every day and invite you to set out on ever new horizons.

126. Look at Jesus who is happy and full of joy. Be happy with your friend who has won. They killed the saint, the righteous, the innocent, but he has triumphed. Evil doesn't have the last word. Evil will not have the last word in your life either, because your friend who loves you wants to win in you. Your savior lives.

127. If he lives, it is a guarantee that good will find its way into our lives and that our efforts towards something will be good. Then we can stop complaining and look ahead, because with him you can always look ahead. That is the security we have. Jesus is the Eternal Living. Hold on to him, we will live and endure all kinds of death and violence that lurk on the way.

128. Any other solution would be weak and temporary. Maybe that would be useful for a while, but then we would be defenseless again, abandoned and exposed to all sorts of hardships. With him, on the other hand, the heart is rooted in a basic security that outlasts everything. Saint Paul says he wants to be united with Christ in order to "know him and the power of his resurrection" (Phil 3.10). This is the power that will show itself many times in your life too, for he has come to give you life, life "in abundance" (Joh 10,10).

129. If you manage to appreciate the beauty of this proclamation in your heart and let the Lord find you; if you allow yourself to be loved and redeemed by him; when you become friends with him and begin to talk to the living Christ about the concrete things in your life, that will be the great experience, the basic experience that gives your life as a Christian support. You can then pass this experience on to other young people. Because "at the beginning of being a Christian there is not an ethical decision or a big idea, but the encounter with an event, with a person who gives our life a new horizon and thus its decisive direction".[69]

The spirit gives life

130. In these three truths - God loves you, Christ is your Savior, He lives - God the Father and Jesus appear. Where the Father and Jesus Christ are, there is the Holy Spirit. It is He who prepares and opens hearts to receive this message; it is he who keeps this experience of salvation alive; it is he who will help you grow in that joy if you let him act. The Holy Spirit fills the heart of the risen Christ and flows from there like a spring into your life. But when you receive him, the Holy Spirit leads you deeper and deeper into the heart of Christ, so that you are more and more filled with his love, his light and his power.