Love the heart of WYD, says Benedict

Citing Jesus' commandment to love others in his message for this year's World Youth Day, Pope Benedict has called on young people to "dare to love" and not just become more "competitive" and "productive".

In his message, Pope Benedict points to a three-stage journey to discover love and three areas to express it - Church, personal growth and society, AsiaNews reports.

True love is one that is "faithful and strong", one that "generates peace and joy" expressed within the Church and in which we bring life through our growth or that of our engagement as a couple and not through personal satisfaction, one in which we are "witnesses of charity" like Mother Teresa rather than one based on our "competitive" and "productive" capacities, the pope said.

"Everybody feels the longing to love and to be loved," the Pope writes.

"Yet, how difficult it is to love, and how many mistakes and failures have to be reckoned with in love! There are those who even come to doubt that love is possible. But if emotional delusions or lack of affection can cause us to think that love is utopian, an impossible dream, should we then become resigned? No! Love is possible."

In order to "reawaken" trust in "true" love, Benedict points to a three-stage journey to discover love and three contexts in which it manifests itself.

"The first stage concerns the source of true love. There is only one source, and that is God. Saint John makes this clear when he declares that 'God is love' (1 Jn 4: 8, 16). He was not simply saying that God loves us, but that the very being of God is love."

In the second stage of this journey, God-love's highest incarnation is the Cross. In it, "[r]edeemed by his blood, no human life is useless or of little value, because each of us is loved personally by Him with a passionate and faithful love, a love without limits."

"Moreover, the Crucifix, which after the Resurrection would carry forever the marks of his passion, exposes the 'distortions' and lies about God that underlie violence, vengeance and exclusion. Christ is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sins of the world and eradicates hatred from the heart of humankind. This is the true 'revolution' that He brings about: love."

In the third stage we realise "the need and urgency to love him as He has loved us" and from this realisation stems the call to express God-Love in three areas of daily life.

The first one is the Church. "[Y]ou should stimulate, with your enthusiasm and charity, the activities of the parishes, the communities, the ecclesial movements and the youth groups to which you belong. Be attentive in your concern for the welfare of others, faithful to the commitments you have made. Do not hesitate to joyfully abstain from some of your entertainments; cheerfully accept the necessary sacrifices; testify to your faithful love for Jesus by proclaiming his Gospel, especially among young people of your age."

The second area, "where you are called to express your love and grow in it, is your preparation for the future that awaits you. If you are engaged to be married, God has a project of love for your future as a couple and as a family.

"Learning to love each other as a couple is a wonderful journey, yet it requires a demanding 'apprenticeship'. The period of engagement, very necessary in order to form a couple, is a time of expectation and preparation that needs to be lived in purity of gesture and words. It allows you to mature in love, in concern and in attention for each other; it helps you to practise self-control and to develop your respect for each other.

"These are the characteristics of true love that does not place emphasis on seeking its own satisfaction or its own welfare," the pope writes, asking young people also to be ready to say yes "if God should call you to follow the path of ministerial priesthood or the consecrated life".

"The third area of commitment that comes with love is that of daily life with its multiple relationships. I am particularly referring to family, studies, work and free time. Dear young friends, cultivate your talents, not only to obtain a social position, but also to help others to 'grow'. Develop your capacities, not only in order to become more 'competitive' and 'productive', but to be 'witnesses of charity'".

World Youth Day 2007 will be celebrated on Palm Sunday.

Young people should believe in true love, says Pope

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day

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6 Feb 2007