Like Mary, “the world today needs young people that go with haste, who don’t get tired of going with haste. Of young people who have that vocation of feeling that for them, life offers a mission,” he said.
As he frequently has in the past, the Pope emphasized the importance of experiencing life as a journey, saying that the world and the Church need youth who participate in this journey and who are engaged in the process.
“But what drama there is in the world today,” he said, noting that unfortunately, today “young people are often discarded; they don’t have work, they aren’t given an ideal for their lives, they don’t have education, they lack integration. Many are forced to flee and live as refugees in in other lands.”
“It’s hard to say this, but often times young people are treated as garbage,” he said, explaining that the goal of the synod is to show the world that “young people are here. We are going to Panama to say that we are here, on a journey, we don’t want to be garbage, we have value to give.
However, participating in the journey involves risks and the possibility of making mistakes, he said, but cautioned that if a young person doesn’t take risks, “they have grown old. We must take risks.”
Pointing to how Sr. Marialisa in her testimony said that she had quit going to church after receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, Pope Francis noted that in Italy the sacrament is frequently called the sacrament of “Arrivederci,” meaning “goodbye,” since youth typically stop attending church after.
Part of the reason for this, Francis said, is because many youth don’t know what to do after Confirmation. However, he noted that in her testimony, Sr. Marialista during journey to discovering her vocation, never stopped, even when she went astray, and wasn’t afraid to take risks in trying new things.
“You must prepare the future, the future is in your hands,” he told the youth, explaining that not only those who are organizing the synod, but “the entire Church wants to hear from youth want they think, what they want, what they feel, what they criticize and what they are most drawn to. Everything.”
“The Church needs still needs a spring, and spring is the season of youth,” he said, and invited the youth to begin the journey without fear or shame, but with courage.
Francis noted that many times in life we spend a lot of time asking the question “who am I?” and in the end, we can “spend a lifetime” contemplating the answer. However, the real question we have to ask ourselves, he said, is “for whom am I?”
Just as Mary was able to ask that question, discern that in that moment she was asked to go to her cousin and went, youth today must also ask this question, the Pope said, explaining that this is a task that will give them work for their entire lives.
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It’s a task “that makes you think, makes you feel, makes you work,” he said, and stressed the importance of knowing how to speak the “three languages: the language of the head, of the heart and of the hands. And to go forward.”
The synod, he said, is not just a “parlor” to hang out at, and it’s not “just a circus or party for people to come together to speak,” but is rather a place to find “concreteness,” because “in this liquid society, concreteness is needed. And concreteness is your vocation.”
Pope Francis closed his speech by emphasizing to youth, as he often has, the importance of speaking with the grandparents, saying this “bridge of dialogue” between elderly and youth is needed today “more than ever,” because even the elderly still have dreams.
He closed saying that while he doesn’t know if he will be the Pope to meet them in Panama in 2019, “there will be a Pope there and he will ask you if you took time to speak to the elderly, to listen to their dreams, so you can concretely act as prophets in the world today!”