.- Pope Benedict XVI has challenged young people to “dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world.”
Addressing tens of thousands of young pilgrims gathered for a candlelight prayer vigil in the German city of Freiburg, the Pope explained that saints are those who never give up in the spiritual life despite setbacks.
“Christ is not so much interested in how often in your lives you stumble and fall, as in how often you pick yourselves up again,” he said.
The prayer vigil was the Pope’s final appointment of a busy day-three of his state visit to Germany. Drawing upon the theme of Christ as “the light the world,” the evening consisted of a series of prayers offered by young people carrying bowls of fire. The fire was then taken out into the crowd in imitation of the liturgy of the Easter Vigil. The service, held outside Freiburg’s exhibition centre, was also interspersed with Christian music and dance.
“Dear friends, again and again the very notion of saints has been caricatured and distorted, as if to be holy meant to be remote from the world, naive and joyless,” said the Pope in his address.
He added that this caricature portrays the saint as a somewhat unreal figure “who might well be revered, but could never be imitated in our own lives.” This is both false and discouraging, said the Pope. He reminded the young pilgrims that there is “no saint, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has not also known sin, who has never fallen.”
Pope Benedict then told the young people that Christ did not call them because they “are good and perfect,” but because Christ “is good and he wants to make you his friends.”
“Yes, you are the light of the world because Jesus is your light. You are Christians – not because you do special and extraordinary things, but because Christ is your life,” suggested the Pope.
He also stressed that the Christian faith is lived in community as “light does not remain alone.” Thus Christians draw strength from fellow Christians which in turn also attracts others to Christ.
“All around, other lights are flaring up. In their gleam, space acquires contours, so that we can find our bearings,” he said.
The converse is also true, said the Pope. Throughout history, “keen observers have pointed out that damage to the Church comes not from her opponents, but from uncommitted Christians.”
Hence the challenge of Christ: “Repent! Be the light of the world! Change your life, make it bright and radiant!”
This way young people can overcome those sins which can sometimes threaten to engulf them “like a thick fog” such as “sloth, or laziness in willing and doing good,” said Pope Benedict.
“Dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world,” concluded the Pope.
“I am confident that you and many other young people here in Germany are lamps of hope that do not remain hidden. ‘You are the light of the world.’ Amen.”