Shortly after concluding Vespers on Friday evening, Pope Benedict walked out of Notre Dame cathedral to be greeted by 10,000 young people. The Holy Father told the youth that he and the Church have confidence in them and entrusted to them the treasures of the importance of the Holy Spirit and of the mystery of the Cross.
“This evening,” the Pope began, “I would like to talk to you about two very closely related matters; they represent a real treasure to be stored up in your hearts.”
“The first has to do with the theme which was chosen for Sydney… I am referring to a passage taken from the Acts of the Apostles, a book which has most appropriately been called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you will be my witnesses."
“In Sydney,” the Holy Father reminded the youth, “many young people rediscovered the importance of the Holy Spirit for the life of every Christian. The Spirit gives us a deep relationship with God, who is the source of all authentic human good,” he noted.
“All of you desire to love and to be loved! It is to God that you must turn, if you want to learn how to love, and to find the strength to love. The Spirit, who is Love, can open your hearts to accept the gift of genuine love. All of you are seeking the truth; and all of you want to live in truth! This truth is Christ. He is the only Way, the one Truth and the true Life. To follow Christ means truly to "put out to sea", as is said several times in the Psalms. The way of Truth is simultaneously one and manifold according to the variety of charisms, just as Truth is one while at the same time possessing an inexhaustible richness. Surrender yourselves to the Holy Spirit in order to find Christ. The Spirit is our indispensable guide in prayer, he animates our hope and he is the source of true joy.”
The Pope then went on to invite the young "to meditate on the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation ... which leads you into a mature faith life. It is vital for you to understand this Sacrament more and more in order to evaluate the quality and depth of your faith and to reinforce it. The Holy Spirit enables you to approach the mystery of God; He makes you understand Who God is. He invites you to see in your neighbors the brothers and sisters whom God has given you, in order to live with them in human and spiritual fellowship - in other words, to live within the Church. By revealing Who the crucified and risen Lord is for us, He impels you to bear witness to Christ."
Pope Benedict then insisted that the young people share their encounter with Christ with everyone they meet.
"You need to speak about Christ to all around you, to your families and friends, wherever you study, work and relax. Do not be afraid! Have 'the courage to live the Gospel and the boldness to proclaim it'. ... Bring the Good News to the young people of your age, and to others as well. They know what it means to experience difficulty in relationships, worry and uncertainty in the face of work and study. They have experienced suffering, but they have also known unique moments of joy. Be witnesses of God, for, as young people, you are fully a part of the Catholic community. ... The Church has confidence in you, and I want to tell you so!"
The Holy Father then drew the young people's attention to another subject: "the mystery of the Cross."
"Many of you", he said, "wear a cross on a chain around your neck. I too wear one. ... It is not a mere decoration or a piece of jewelry. It is the precious symbol of our faith, the visible and material sign that we belong to Christ."
"For Christians, the Cross signifies God's wisdom and His infinite love revealed in the saving gift of Christ, crucified and risen for the life of the world, and in particular for the life of each and every one of you," he taught the young people.
The cross "is not only the symbol of your life in God and your salvation, but also ... the silent witness of human suffering and the unique and priceless expression of all our hopes."
"The Cross in some way seems to threaten our human security, yet above all else, it also proclaims God's grace and confirms our salvation. This evening, I entrust you with the Cross of Christ. ... Paul understood the seemingly paradoxical words of Jesus, Who taught that it is only by giving ('losing') one's life that one finds it, and Paul concluded from this that the Cross expresses the fundamental law of love, the perfect formula for real life."
Having concluded his meeting with the young people, the Pope traveled to the apostolic nunciature where, having had dinner, he appeared at the balcony to greet the faithful gathered below.
"Your warm welcome is most moving for the Pope!" he told them. "Thank you for waiting for me here with such enthusiasm, despite the lateness of the hour!"
"I am glad to be joining the great throng of Lourdes pilgrims tomorrow to celebrate the Jubilee of the apparitions of the Virgin. Catholics in France have greater need than ever to renew their trust in Mary, recognizing in her the model of their commitment to the service of the Gospel. ... I am counting on you and on your prayers for this visit to bear fruit. May the Virgin Mary keep you safe!"