VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 4.20 p.m. today, the Holy Father went to Stadio dos Coquieros in the Angolan capital city of Luanda. On arrival he toured the stadium - which has a capacity of 30,000 - by popemobile greeting the crowds of young people he had come to meet.
Commenting on the theme of the meeting, taken from the Book of Revelation, "Behold the dwelling of God is with men", the Pope assured the young people that "God makes all the difference, ... and more! God changes us; He makes us new!".
"God is the future of a new humanity, which is anticipated in His Church. When you have a chance, take time to read the Church's history. You will find that the Church does not grow old with the passing of the years. Rather, she grows younger, for she is journeying towards her Lord, day by day drawing nearer to the one true fountain overflowing with youthfulness, rebirth, the power of life".
He then addressed some remarks to young Angolans who have been maimed or disabled as a result of the war or landmines. "I think of the countless tears that have been shed for the loss of your relatives and friends", he said. "It is not hard to imagine the dark clouds that still veil the horizon of your fondest hopes and dreams".
"See how Jesus does not leave us without an answer; He tells us one thing very clearly: renewal starts from within; you will receive a power from on high. The power to shape the future is within you.
"It is within you", he added, "but how? Just as life exists within a seed. That is how Jesus explained it at a critical juncture in His ministry. ... Jesus spoke about the sower who sows in the field of the world, and He explained that the seed is His word and His miracles of healing. These are so few in comparison to the immense needs and demands of everyday life. And yet, deep within the seed, the future is already present, since the seed contains tomorrow's bread, tomorrow's life. The seed seems almost nothing. But it is the presence of the future, the promise already present. When it falls on good soil, it produces fruit, thirty, sixty and even a hundredfold".
"In your midst", he told the young people, "you have the new Bread, the Bread of future life, the Blessed Eucharist, which nourishes us and pours out the life of the Trinity into the hearts of all people".
"He gives Himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to others, for love of Him. This is the way that leads to life; it can be followed only by maintaining a constant dialogue with the Lord and among yourselves". Yet "the dominant societal culture is not helping you to live by Jesus' word or to practise the self-giving to which He calls you in accordance with the Father's plan".
After encouraging his young audience not to be "afraid to make definitive decisions", the Pope added: "You do not lack generosity - that I know! But the idea of risking a lifelong commitment, whether in marriage or in a life of special consecration, can be daunting. You might think: ...'Can I make a life-long commitment now, without knowing what unforeseen events lie in store for me? By making a definitive decision, would I not be risking my freedom and tying my own hands?' These are the doubts you feel, and today's individualistic and hedonist culture aggravates them. Yet when young people avoid decisions, there is a risk of never attaining full maturity".
"Take courage!", he cried. "Dare to make definitive decisions, because in reality these are the only decisions which do not destroy your freedom, but guide it in the right direction, enabling you to move forward and attain something worthwhile in life. There is no doubt about it: life is worthwhile only if you take courage and are ready for adventure, if you trust in the Lord Who will never abandon you. Young people of Angola, unleash the power of the Holy Spirit within you, the power from on high!
"Trusting in this power, like Jesus, risk taking a leap and making a definitive decision. Give life a chance", the Holy Father concluded. "This is the life worthy of being lived, and I commend it to you from my heart. May God bless the young people of Angola!".
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