Pope tells pilgrims at Vigil: All humanity longs for unity

Sydney, Australia, Jul 19, 2008 / 06:58 am (CNA) .- Alongside the WYD cross and the icon of Mary, and under the "magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross," the Pope delivered a message to pilgrims gathered at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney for the final night of WYD08, inspiring them to offer hope, strive for unity and to transform their families, communities and nations empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The spectacular two-hour celebration included music, liturgy and the testimonies of seven young people from around the world.

"Tonight we focus our attention on how to become witnesses," said the Pope. "Indeed, society today is being fragmented by a way of thinking that is inherently short-sighted, because it disregards the full horizon of truth- the truth about God and about us."

"By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles which enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony…"What is our response, as Christian witnesses, to a divided and fragmented world?" asked the Pope.

"How can we offer the hope of peace, healing and harmony to those 'stations' of conflict, suffering and tension which you have chosen to march with this World Youth Day Cross? Unity and reconciliation cannot be achieved through our efforts alone," said the Pope.  “God has made us for one another and only in God and his Church can we find the unity we seek.”

"Unity is the essence of the Church,” the Pontiff declared.  “It is a gift we must recognize and cherish. Tonight, let us pray for the resolve to nurture unity: contribute to it! Resist any temptation to walk away! For it is precisely the comprehensiveness, the vast vision, of our faith- solid yet open, consistent yet dynamic, true yet constantly growing in insight- that we can offer our world."

It is because of your faith, that your friends turn to you in times of difficulty, the Pope explained.  All humanity harbors a "cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity.” 

“From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity. Who satisfies that essential human yearning to be one, to be immersed in communion, to be built up, to be led to truth? The Holy Spirit! This is the Spirit’s role: to bring Christ’s work to fulfillment. Enriched with the Spirit’s gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!”

The Pope told of how he decided to study the witnesses to the Holy Spirit whom he described as "the neglected person of the Blessed Trinity," which is how he discovered the works of the Saint Augustine. He proclaimed the lessons of St. Augustine, saying that "at first [Augustine] was suspicious of the Christian teaching that God had become man." Yet his experience of the love of God present in the Church led him to … three particular insights about the Holy Spirit."

The first was that "the 'Holy' and 'Spirit' refer to what is divine about God... what is shared by the Father and the Son." Hence, "Augustine concluded that the Spirit's particular quality is unity.

The second insight of Augustine, said the Pope was the understanding of "the Holy Spirit is abiding love." "Love is the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit!" proclaimed the Pope.

"The third insight- the Holy Spirit as a gift- Augustine derived from meditating on a Gospel passage we all know and love: Christ's conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. The Spirit is "God's gift" – the internal spring, who truly satisfies our deepest thirst and leads us to the Father."

"The Holy Spirit is God eternally giving himself; like a never-ending spring he pours fourth nothing less than himself. In view of this ceaseless gift, we come to see the limitations of all that perishes, the folly of the consumerist mindset. We begin to understand why the quest for novelty leaves us unsatisfied and wanting. Are we not looking for an eternal gift? The spring that will never run dry?"

"Dear young people…Inspired by the insights of Saint Augustine: let unifying love be your measure; abiding love your challenge; self giving love your mission! These gifts of the Spirit- each of which, as Saint Francis de Sales reminds us, is a way to participate in the one love of God- are neither prizes nor rewards."

The Pope went on to distinguish the value of practical action with and without faith.

"What constitutes our faith is not primarily what we do but what we receive. After all, many generous people who are not Christian may well achieve far more than we do. Friends, do you accept being drawn into God's Trinitarian life? Do you accept being drawn into his communion of love?"

Turn to the Holy Spirit, the Pope implored the youth, "Turn to him dear young people, and you will find the true meaning of renewal."

Finally, the Pope praised the beauty of the night's vigil saying, "Tonight, gathered under the beauty of the night sky, our hearts and minds are filled with gratitude to God for the great gift of our Trinitarian faith… Let us invoke the Holy Spirit: he is the artisan of God's works. Let his gifts shape you!”

"In the end, life is not about accumulation. It is much more than success. To be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God's love. In accepting the power of the Holy Spirit you too can transform you families, communities and nations. Set free the gifts! Let wisdom, courage, awe and reverence by the marks of greatness!"