Earlier today, the Vatican released a message from Pope Benedict to Dutch participants of the first ever National Day of Catholic Youth, celebrated yesterday in Nieuwegein, Netherlands. In it, he encouraged young people to frequent prayer and the sacraments and to be a transformative factor in modern culture.
The Pope began his message fondly recalling that many of the young people present at the Dutch event also participated in World Youth Day, held this past August in his home region of Cologne, Germany.
The Holy Father told the youth that “Jesus is your true friend and Lord,” and urged them to “enter into a relationship of true friendship with Him.”
“He awaits you,” the Pope said, “and only in Him will you find happiness.”
He encouraged the young people not to content themselves “with superficial pleasures, ... to live only for oneself in the apparent enjoyment of life. “…sooner or later”, he said, “one becomes aware that this is not true happiness, because true happiness is much deeper and is only to be found in Jesus."
The Holy Father said that "for this reason, I invite you to seek the Lord every day, He wants nothing other than your true happiness."
Likewise, he invited his listeners to dedicate moments of the day "to being exclusively in the company of the Lord. ... Recitation of the Rosary”, he said for example, “may help you to learn the art of praying with the simplicity and depth of Mary.”
He also said that “It is important that participation in the Eucharist should be the center of your life. ... Adore God in church and remain kneeling before the tabernacle."
Pope Benedict encouraged the youth to frequent the Sacrament of Penance, where Jesus "awaits you to forgive your sins and reconcile yourselves with His love. ... What a great opportunity the Lord has given us with this Sacrament for interior renewal and for progress in our Christian lives.”
He went on to say that "If you follow Jesus, you never feel alone because you are part of the Church, which is a great family in which you can grow in true friendship with so many brothers and sisters in the faith, scattered in every corner of the world.”
“Jesus”, the Pope urged, “needs you to 'renew' modern society. Concern yourselves with increasing your knowledge of the faith, so as to be authentic witnesses thereof. Dedicate yourselves to an ever better understanding of Catholic doctrine," in which "the satisfying response to your deepest questions" is to be found.
Pope Benedict closed his message assuring his prayers for the young people and their meeting, and expressed hope that they will "generously welcome the call of the Lord.”
“Only by responding positively to His call, however demanding it may seem,” the Pope told them”, is it possible to find happiness and peace of heart."