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Monday, February 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was the Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the 21st World Youth Day 2006. The theme of the gathering is "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Given below are ample extracts of the message, which bears the date of February 22, 2006:

  "The theme that I suggest to you is a verse from Psalm 118: 'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.' Our dearly loved John Paul II commented on that verse of the psalm as follows: 'The one who prays pours out his thanks for the Law of God that he adopts as a lamp for his steps in the often dark path of life.'

  "God reveals Himself in history. He speaks to humankind, and the word He speaks has creative power. ... God says what He does and does what He says. The Old Testament announces to the Children of Israel the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of a 'new' covenant."

  "The Apostles received the word of salvation and passed it on to their successors as a precious gem kept safely in the jewel box of the Church: without the Church, this pearl runs the risk of being lost or destroyed. ... Love and follow the Church, for she has received from her Founder the mission of showing people the way to true happiness.

  "It is not easy to recognize and find authentic happiness in this world in which we live, where people are often held captive by the current ways of thinking. They may think they are 'free,' but they are being led astray and become lost amid the errors or illusions of aberrant ideologies. 'Freedom itself needs to be set free,' and the darkness in which humankind is groping needs to be illuminated.

  "Jesus taught us how this can be done: 'If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.' The incarnate Word, Word of Truth, makes us free and directs our freedom towards the good."

  "Meditate often on the word of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. You will then discover that God's way of thinking is not the same as that of humankind's. You will find yourselves led to contemplate the real God and to read the events of history through His eyes."

  "On life's journey, which is neither easy nor free of deceptions, you will meet difficulties and suffering and at times you will be tempted to exclaim with the psalmist: 'I am severely afflicted.' Do not forget to add as the psalmist did: 'give me life, O Lord, according to Your word. ... The loving presence of God, through His word, is the lamp that dispels the darkness of fear and lights up the path even when times are most difficult.

  "The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: 'Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.' ... It is necessary to take seriously the injunction to consider the word of God to be an indispensable 'weapon' in the spiritual struggle. This will be effective and show results if we learn to listen to it and then to obey it. ... The secret of acquiring 'an understanding heart' is to train your heart to listen. This is obtained by persistently meditating on the word of God and by remaining firmly rooted in it through the commitment to persevere in getting to know it better."

  "I urge you to become familiar with the Bible, ... so that it can be your compass pointing out the road to follow. By reading it, you will learn to know Christ. ... A time-honored way to study and savor the word of God is 'lectio divina' which constitutes a real and veritable spiritual journey marked out in stages. After the 'lectio,' which consists of reading and rereading a passage from Sacred Scripture and taking in the main elements, we proceed to 'meditatio,' ... in which the soul turns to God and tries to understand what His word is saying to us today. Then comes 'oratio' in which we linger to talk with God directly. Finally we come to 'contemplatio.' This helps us to keep our hearts attentive to the presence of Christ."

  "Reading, study and meditation of the Word should then flow into a life of consistent fidelity to Christ and His teachings."

  "To build your life on Christ, to accept the word with joy and put its teachings into practice: this, young people of the third millennium, should be your program! There is an urgent need for the emergence of a new generation of apostles anchored firmly in the word of Christ, capable of responding to the challenges of our times and prepared to spread the Gospel far and wide. It is this that the Lord asks of you, it is to this that the Church invites you, and it is this that the world - even though it may not be aware of it - expects of you! If Jesus calls you, do not be afraid to respond to Him with generosity, especially when He asks you to follow Him in the consecrated life or in the priesthood. Do not be afraid; trust in Him and you will not be disappointed."

  "At the 21st World Youth Day that we will celebrate on 9 April next, Palm Sunday, we will set out, in our hearts, on a pilgrimage towards the world encounter with young people that will take place in Sydney in July 2008.

  "We will prepare for that great appointment reflecting together on the theme 'The Holy Spirit and the mission' in successive stages. This year our attention will focus on the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, Who reveals Christ to us. ... Next year, 2007, we will meditate on a verse from the Gospel of John: 'Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.' We will discover more about the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Love, who infuses divine charity within us and makes us aware of the material and spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters. We will finally reach the world meeting of 2008 and its theme will be: 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.'

  "From this moment onwards, in a climate of constant listening to the word of God, call on the Holy Spirit, Spirit of fortitude and witness, that you may be able to proclaim the Gospel without fear even to the ends of the earth."
MESS/WORLD YOUTH DAY/...                        VIS 20060227 (1150)

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