VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's Eucharistic celebration the Holy Father addressed a Message to the 10,000 young pilgrims gathered on the esplanade of Melnik near the site of St. Wenceslas' martyrdom. Many of them had spent the night in tents to attend the Mass presided by Benedict XVI.
"Being with you makes the Pope feel young!" the Holy Father told the pilgrims, thanking them for their "enthusiasm" and "generosity". He went on: "In every young person there is an aspiration towards happiness, sometimes tinged with anxiety: an aspiration that is often exploited, however, by present-day consumerist society in false and alienating ways. Instead, that longing for happiness must be taken seriously, it demands a true and comprehensive response. At your age, the first major choices are made, choices that can set your lives on a particular course, for better or worse".
Benedict XVI reminded his audience of "the experience of St. Augustine, who said that the heart of every person is restless until it finds what it truly seeks. He discovered that Jesus Christ alone is the answer that can satisfy his and every person's desire for a life of happiness, filled with meaning and value.
"As he did with Augustine", the Pope added, "so the Lord comes to meet each one of you. He knocks at the door of your freedom and asks to be welcomed as a friend. He wants to make you happy, to fill you with humanity and dignity. The Christian faith is this: encounter with Christ, the living Person Who gives life a new horizon and thereby a definitive direction".
"The Lord calls each of us by name, and entrusts to us a specific mission in the Church and in society". He "constantly renews His invitation to you to be His disciples and His witnesses. Many of you He calls to marriage, and the preparation for this Sacrament constitutes a real vocational journey. Consider seriously the divine call to raise a Christian family, and let your youth be the time in which to build your future with a sense of responsibility. Society needs Christian families, saintly families!"
Pope Benedict continued his Message: "And if the Lord is calling you to follow Him in the ministerial priesthood or in the consecrated life, do not hesitate to respond to His invitation. In particular, in this Year for Priests, I appeal to you, young men. ... The Church in every country, including this one, needs many holy priests and also persons fully consecrated to the service of Christ, Hope of the world.
"Hope! This word, to which I often return, sits well with youth. You, my dear young people, are the hope of the Church! She expects you to become messengers of hope".
The Holy Father then called on his youthful listeners to participate in the next World Youth Day, due to take place in the Spanish capital city of Madrid in August 2011, and he asked them "to live your faith with joy and enthusiasm; to grow in unity among yourselves and with Christ; to pray and to be diligent in frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession".
Having then greeted the young people in various languages, Benedict XVI returned to Prague by car, where he dined at the archbishop's palace with bishops of the Czech Republic.
PV-REP./MESSAGE YOUTH/MELNIK VIS 090928 (570)