Say ‘yes’ to the divine call, was Pope Benedict’s message to a crowd of Roman university students who met with him yesterday evening in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The students listened to the Holy Father as he spoke about two important topics: their own spiritual formation and the importance of God for having hope in the modern world.
Among the young people gathered in the basilica were 150 university students from the diocese of Rome who have decided to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on the eve of Pentecost this coming year. Addressing them and the other young people present, the Pope invited them "to turn their gaze to the Virgin Mary. From her 'yes' you should learn to pronounce your own 'yes' to the divine call,” he taught them.
Encouraging them to be generous in their ‘yes’ to God, Benedict explained that “[t]he Holy Spirit enters our lives in the extent to which we open our hearts with our 'yes.' The fuller that 'yes' is, the fuller is the gift of His presence."
Pope Benedict then moved on to reflect on having hope in today’s world. He invited the young people to reflect upon and consider, individually and as a group, the section in “Spe Salvi” dedicated to hope in the modern age.
Drawing from his encyclical, the Pope recalled that “[i]n the seventeenth century, Europe went through an epoch-making change. Since then a mentality has become ever more widespread according to which human progress is the work of science and technology, while faith concerns only the salvation of the soul.”
"The two great concepts of modernity - reason and freedom - have been, so to say, 'disengaged' from God," the Holy Father added. They have "become autonomous and work together in the construction of the 'kingdom of man,' which in practice contrasts with the Kingdom of God.
This ‘kingdom of man’ has led to “the spread of materialist ideas, nourished by the hope that, by changing economic and political structures, it will finally be possible to achieve a just society in which peace, freedom and equality reign,” the Pope observed.
"This process," Benedict concluded, "which is not without its merits and its historical causes, contains, however, a basic error: man is not just the result of certain economic and social conditions; technological progress does not correspond to the moral development of mankind. In fact without ethical principles science and technology can be used - as has happened and unfortunately still does happen - not for the good but to the detriment of individuals and humanity."