Pope's prescription for our info-saturated world: being surprised by love

Pope waving from popemobile after visiting Santo Tomas University in Manila CNA Pope Francis at Santo Tomas University in Manila Jan. 18. / Alan Holdren / CNA.

Tens of thousands of Filipino youth gathered in Manila with Pope Francis on Sunday and heard his recommendation that a society inundated in information should embrace God's loving surprises.

"God is a God of surprises, because he always loved us first, and he awaits us with a surprise," Pope Francis said Jan. 17 at a youth rally on the campus of the University of Santo Tomas. "Love opens you to surprise and is a surprise, of loving and being loved."

"If you only have information, then the element of surprise is gone," he said. "God surprises us, let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God."

Several Filipino youth gave short testimonies to the Holy Father about their lives, and then posed different questions to him. Leandro Santos II, a law student at the university, asked Pope Francis how students should best use technology and information without allowing it to distract them.

"We, the students of today, are so fortunate to have the abundance of information available before us," Santos said. "Because of the emergence of the Internet and the boom of social media, information and knowledge has been (made) readily available."

"With all of these, there exists a struggle on the way we use and process these pieces of information," he said. "A lot of them are going to waste, many of us are overwhelmed, we are distracted and our initiatives are scattered. Despite the advantages we have, we still feel lost and most of the time our focus is compromised."

Following Santos' testimony, two questions were posed to Pope Francis.

First of all, in a world of fast internet connections, smartphones, unlimited texting, instant romantic relationships and busy lifestyles, how can youth take time to reflect on God's will in their lives?

And secondly, how can young people find true love in a world of movies and social media?

Pope Francis responded by saying that information is not necessarily a bad thing. The challenge is knowing what to do with information once it is acquired.

"We run the risk of becoming young people like museums…that have everything, but without knowing what to do," he said. "We don't need young people like museums…But we do need holy young people."

Becoming a saint is a challenge of love, and learning to love is the most important thing to learn in life, whether at a university or in the outside world, Pope Francis explained. 

Love requires engaging three languages – that of the mind, the heart, and the hands, Pope Francis said.

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