Pope Francis also reflected on the contribution young people can make to the renewal of the Catholic Church through evangelization and community.
"Young people can offer the Church the beauty of youth by renewing her ability to 'rejoice with new beginnings, to give unreservedly of herself, to be renewed and to set out for ever greater accomplishments,'" he said, quoting from the Second Vatican Council's Message to Young People.
He said "If you are young in years, but feel weak, weary or disillusioned, ask Jesus to renew you. With him, hope never fails." He encouraged silent prayer, discernment, and listening to God.
Even "if you feel overwhelmed by vices, bad habits, selfishness or unhealthy pastimes," he said, "Jesus, brimming with life, wants to help you make your youth worthwhile. In this way, you will not deprive the world of the contribution that you alone can make, in all your uniqueness and originality."
"You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realize that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness," he said. "In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself."
Speaking about vocation, the pope said that, while a gift, it will "undoubtedly also be demanding."
"In the end, [vocation] is a recognition of why I was made, why I am here on earth, and what the Lord's plan is for my life," he stated. Though God will not show a person every detail of his vocation, and one must prudently make one's own decisions, "like clay in the hands of a potter, I can let myself be shaped and guided by him."
If called to marriage, for example, having a family "is worth your every effort," he said.
In marriage and family, he explained, "you will find the best incentives to mature and the greatest joys to experience and share. Don't let yourselves be robbed of a great love. Don't let yourselves be led astray by those who propose a life of rampant individualism that in the end leads to isolation and the worst sort of loneliness."
"Dear young people, my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you," the pope concluded. "May the Holy Spirit urge you on as you run this race. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith. We need them!"