Vatican City, 5 July 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows at Castelpetroso shortly after 3 p.m. to meet with the young of the diocese of Abruzzo and Molise. He prayed in the sanctuary for a short while, before proceeding to the forecourt to address the thousands of young people present, whom he thanked for their contagious enthusiasm and the festive atmosphere they had created.
“You are open … to hope and desirous of fullness, with the wish to give meaning to your future, to your entire life, to discern the right path for each one of you and to choose the road that brings you serenity and human fulfilment. … On the one hand, you are seeking that which truly counts, that remains stable in time and is definitive, you are seeking answers that enlighten your mind and warm your heart, not only for the duration of a morning or for a short portion of your path, but for ever. On the other hand, you feel a strong fear of making mistakes, the fear of being too involved in things, the temptation always to leave open a little escape route, that may always leave the way open to new scenarios and possibilities”.
“Contemporary society and its predominant cultural models – the culture of the provisional – does not offer a suitable climate for the formation of stable life choices, with solid bonds, built on a rock of love and responsibility rather than the sand of the emotions of the moment”, said Francis. “The aspiration to individual autonomy reaches the point of always putting everything in discussion and with relative ease breaking important and long-meditated decisions, life paths taken freely with commitment and dedication. This promotes superficiality in the assumption of responsibilities, since in the depths of the heart they risk becoming considered as something from which one can in any case be freed. Today I'll choose this, tomorrow I'll choose the other …. when my enthusiasm runs out I'll take a different route. And in this way our lives turn in one direction and another, like a maze. Stop! Look for the thread to find your way out of the labyrinth; you can't waste your life turning here and there”.
“However, the human heart aspires to great things, to important values, to profound friendships, bonds that are strengthened rather than broken by the trials of life. Human beings aspire to be loved, and to be loved definitively. Do not let yourselves be robbed of the desire to construct great and solid things in your lives! Do not be satisfied with half-measures! Aspire to happiness, have the courage to come out of yourselves, to play out fully your future together with Jesus”.
“We cannot do this alone. Under the pressure of events and fashions, alone we will never manage to find the right way, and even if we tried, we would not have enough strength to persevere, to face the uphill struggles and obstacles in our way. And here there enters the Lord Jesus' invitation to us: 'If you want … follow me'. He invites us and accompanies us along the way. … He loves us definitively, He has chosen us definitively, He gave Himself definitely to each one of us. … How good it is to be able to face the vicissitudes of existence in the company of Jesus, to be able to count on His Person and His message! He does not deprive us of our autonomy or freedom; on the contrary, strengthening us in our frailty, he enables us to be truly free, free to do good, strong enough to continue to do so, able to forgive and able to ask forgiveness”.
He continued, “A phrase I like to repeat, because we often forget, is: 'God never tires of forgiving'. He forgives definitively, he cancels and forgets our sin if we turn to Him with humility and trust. He helps us not to be discouraged in difficulties, and not to consider them insurmountable; and so, trusting in Him, you will cast your nets anew and obtain a surprising and abundant catch; you will have courage and hope also in facing the difficulties that result from the effects of the economic crisis. Courage and hope are gifts for all, but they belong in a special way to the young. The future is certainly in God's hands. This does not mean denying difficulties or problems, but rather to see them as temporary and surmountable. Difficulties and crises, with God's help and the good will of all, can be overcome, vanquished, and transformed”.
“I would not like to finish without saying a few words on a problem that affects you as you experience it in your current life: unemployment. … We cannot resign ourselves to losing a generation of young people who do not have the dignity of work! … A generation without work is a future defeat for the country and for humanity. … We must fight against this, and help each other to find a solution, through help and solidarity. … Solidarity is a Christian word, which means forging ahead alongside one's brother to help and to overcome problems. Be courageous, with hope and solidarity”.
The Pope concluded by commenting that the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows was built in the place where two young girls saw the Virgin Mary while they were working in the fields. “Mary is a mother, and always comes to our assistance when we work and when we seek work, when we have clear ideas and when we are confused, when prayer comes spontaneously and when the heart is arid. Mary is the Mother of God, our mother, and mother of the Church”.