Make something beautiful with your life, Pope tells Macedonian youth

PopeFrancismeets Macedonian youth Credit Andrea Pope Francis greets young people in Skopje, North Macedonia May 7, 2019. | Andrea Gagliarducci.

Pope Francis encouraged youth in North Macedonia Tuesday to follow Mother Teresa's example and make something beautiful out of their lives.

"Each of you is called, like Mother Teresa, to work with your hands, to take life seriously and make something beautiful of it," Pope Francis said in Skopje May 7.

"You will encounter many, many unexpected twists and turns in life, but it is important to face them and find creative ways of turning them into opportunities," he added.

The pope answered questions from young people at an ecumenical and interreligious meeting at a pastoral center in Mother Teresa's hometown in North Macedonia.

Pope Francis shared with the young people what he believes to be one of the greatest lessons he has learned in his life.

"Now at my age --  and I am not young -- do you want to know what I think was the best lesson I ever learned? It was how to talk to people 'face-to-face,'" he said.

"We have entered into the digital age, but actually we know very little about communication. We are all 'connected,' but not really 'involved' with one another. Getting involved requires life; it calls for being there and sharing the good times but also the not so good times," Francis said.

The pope recommended that young people to spend time face-to-face meeting with their grandparents and the elderly in their communities.

"Dear friends, spend time with the elderly, listen to their stories, which may sometimes seem a bit unreal but in fact are full of rich experiences, eloquent symbols and a hidden wisdom waiting to be discovered and appreciated," he said.

Pope Francis said he was encouraged to see so many young people serving the poor, defending human life, promoting the family, and working to overcome divisions.

"We must dare to be different, to point to ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation, prayer, the pursuit of justice and the common good, love for the poor, and social friendship," he said.

The pope called on youth to follow their dreams, saying that "a person can never, never dream too much."

Francis pointed to the peace declaration he signed in the United Arab Emirates with Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb as a time when he followed a dream.

"A few months ago, a friend of mine, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and I had a dream much like yours, that made us want to make a commitment and sign a document that says that faith must lead us believers to see other persons as our brothers and sisters," he said.

"Think of Mother Teresa: when she lived here, she could not have imagined where her life would have ended up. Yet she kept dreaming and tried to see the face of Jesus, her great love, in all those people on the sides of the road. She dreamed in a big way, and this is why she also loved in a big way," Francis said.

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis visited the Mother Teresa Memorial House in Skopje, the saint's former home-turned-museum.

While Mother Teresa is commonly associated with Kolkata, where she performed much of her apostolate, she spent the first 17 years of her life as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje before receiving her call to a vocation as a missionary sister in 1928.

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"Our world is weary, it has aged. The world is divided … yet how forcefully do we hear our Lord's words: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God," he said.

"Dreaming helps us to keep alive our certainty that another world is indeed possible, and that we are called to get involved, to help build that world through our work, our efforts and our actions," Pope Francis said.

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