.- In preparation for this year’s World Youth Day, to be celebrated on Palm Sunday, April 1st, in all Catholic Dioceses of the world, Pope Benedict XVI offered a reflection on the theme, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” The Holy Father challenged the world’s Catholic youth to look at Christ’s love demonstrated on the Cross and to “dare to love,” through a life of service, prayer, and charity.
The Holy Father also invited young people to take the opportunity of this year’s diocesan-based World Youth Day to prepare for 2008’s gathering in Sydney, Australia.
The Catholic Church holds a World Youth Day, involving the Pope and hundreds of thousand (if not millions) of young people, approximately every three years. 2005’s World Youth Day drew more than 1.2 million people to Cologne, Germany.
While the large-scale triennial World Youth Days draw a lion’s share of media attention, the Church celebrates a World Day for the Youth every year at the diocesan level.
“Everybody feels the longing to love and to be loved,” the Pontiff began his message, noting the difficulties, mistakes, and failures which arise in mankind’s attempts at love.
However, he said, "Love is possible, and the purpose of my message is to help reawaken in each one of you - you who are the future and hope of humanity- trust in a love that is true, faithful and strong; a love that generates peace and joy; a love that binds people together and allows them to feel free in respect for one another."
“The manifestation of divine love is total and perfect in the Cross. ... Redeemed by His blood, no human life is useless or of little value, because each of us is loved personally by Him with a passionate and faithful love, a love without limits."
“The first area,” he said, “is the Church, our spiritual family. ... You should stimulate, with your enthusiasm and charity, the activities of the parishes, the communities, the ecclesial movements and the youth groups to which you belong.”
“Develop your capacities, not only in order to become more 'competitive' and 'productive,' but to be 'witnesses of charity.' In addition to your professional training, also make an effort to acquire religious knowledge that will help you to carry out your mission in a responsible way. In particular, I invite you to carefully study the social doctrine of the Church so that its principles may inspire and guide your action in the world."
“Love is the only force capable of changing the heart of the human person and of all humanity, by making fruitful the relations between men and women, between rich and poor, between cultures and civilizations.”
The Pontiff encouraged the youth to seek the help of the Lord in their endeavors of love through prayer and the Eucharist.
“May Mary, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, help you to let that cry ring out everywhere, the cry that has changed the world: 'God is love!'”
For the full text of the Holy Father's message see CNA's link here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=150