VATICAN CITY - "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" is the title of the Message of Benedict XVI for the twenty-sixth World Youth Day, which is due to be celebrated in the Spanish capital Madrid during the month of the August 2011.
The Message - dated from the Vatican on 6 August, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord - has been published today. Paragraphs taken from the English-language version are given below. The Pope writes:
I often think back on the World Youth Day held in Sydney, Australia, in 2008. There we had an experience of a great festival of faith in which the Spirit of God was actively at work, building deep communion among the participants who had come from all over the world. That gathering, like those on previous occasions, bore rich fruit in the lives of many young people and in the life of the whole Church. ... Now, at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots, our meeting will take place in Madrid with the theme: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith".
In every period of history, including our own, many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. ... In thinking of my own youth, I realise that stability and security are not the questions that most occupy the minds of young people. True enough, it is important to have a job and thus to have firm ground beneath our feet, yet the years of our youth are also a time when we are seeking to get the most out of life. ... We wanted something great, something new. We wanted to discover life itself, in all its grandeur and beauty. Naturally, part of that was due to the times we lived in. During the Nazi dictatorship and the war, we were, so to speak, "hemmed in" by the dominant power structure. So we wanted to break out into the open, to experience the whole range of human possibilities. I think that, to some extent, this urge to break out of the ordinary is present in every generation.
... Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. ... The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear His "imprint". God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life. Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life. To set God aside is to separate ourselves from that source and, inevitably, to deprive ourselves of fulfilment and joy.
In some parts of the world, particularly in the West, today's culture tends to exclude God, and to consider faith a purely private issue with no relevance for the life of society. Even though the set of values underpinning society comes from the Gospel - values like the sense of the dignity of the person, of solidarity, of work and of the family - we see a certain "eclipse of God" taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.
For this reason, dear friends, I encourage you to strengthen your faith in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are the future of society and of the Church! As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Colossae, it is vital to have roots, a solid foundation! This is particularly true today. Many people have no stable points of reference on which to build their lives, and so they end up deeply insecure. There is a growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist. But this way of thinking does not lead to true freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment. As young people, you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives: like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.