Loreto (Agenzia Fides) - In the afternoon of Saturday 1 September, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI flew by helicopter to Loreto for a national Meeting of the first year of an Agorà for Italian Catholic Youth (see Dossier Fides 30/8/2007). In the esplanade of Montorso, adjacent to the Shrine of the Holy House, the Pope presided a Prayer Vigil during which some of the young people bore testimony and conversed with the Pope posing questions to which he replied individually. Benedict XVI said: “Dear young people, the hope of the Church in Italy! I am happy to meet you here in this unique place, on this special evening filled with prayer, song, silence, hope and deep emotions”.
“Whatever motive led you here- the Pope said -, I can assure you, even though it takes courage, that we have been gathered by the Holy Spirit. This is quite true: you have been led here by the Spirit; you have come with your doubts and your certainties, your joys and your anxieties. Now we must all, you too must open our hearts and offer everything to Jesus. Tell him:… Lord Jesus, this evening I want to speak to you with the attitude and confident trust of the young woman who more than two thousand years ago said 'yes' to the Father who chose her to be your Mother”.
Benedict XVI referred to Loreto, in those circumstances, as “the spiritual capital for young people, the centre where the multitudes of young people living on the five continents of the world ideally converge ”. “We feel encircled by the expectations and hopes of millions of young people all over the world … I wish everyone to hear these words: the Pope is close to you, he shares your joys and your conerns, he shares above all the hopes which lie deep in your hears and for each one of your he asks to Lord to grant a life which is full and happy, filled with meaning, a real life”.
With regard to young people's concerns and anxieties with regard to the future, the Pope said: “Do not be afraid, Christ is the answer to the deepest longing of your heart!... Each of you, if you are united with Christ, can do great things. So, my dear friends, do not be afraid to dream, to make great plans for doing good, and do not be discouraged by difficulties. Christ has confidence in you and wishes you to achieve your noble and lofty dreams of authentic happiness. Nothing is impossible for those who trust God and who entrust themselves to God”.
The Holy Father then urged the young people to contemplate Mary who is familiar with young people's “profoundly noble aspirations” their deep desire for love, their need to love and to be loved: “Look at her, imitating her, you will discover the beauty of love, not a ‘throwaway', passing or hollow love, a slave of a selfish and materialist mentality, instead a love which is true and profound… For many this is found in the decision to marry and form a family where love between man and wife is lived with faithfulness as a reciprocal gift, a definitive gift, sealed by an "I will" pronounced before God on the wedding day, an "I will" for life.”
Benedict XVI said he was aware that today this dream “is ever more difficult to achieve” many families “break up”. To all who find themselves in such difficult and complex situations the Holy Father said: “the Mother of God, the Community of the faithful, the Pope, are with you and they pray that the crisis of the family in our day does not become irreversible. May Christian families with the power of God's grace remain faithful to that solemn commitment of love made with joy in front of the priest and the Christian community on the solemn day of the wedding”.
Fear of failure can be contagious, but the Pope said “nothing is impossible for those who trust in God. This is true for those destined for the married life, and even more for those whom the Lord calls to a life of total detachment from earthly goods to be totally devoted to his Kingdom”. The Pope mentioned the missionaries: “Some of you are on the path towards the priesthood, the consecrated life; some aspire to be missionaries, aware of the many great risks involved. I am thinking of the priests, religious and lay missionaries who fell in the trenches of love at the service of the Gospel. We could learn much in this regard from Fr Giancarlo Bossi, for whom we prayed during the time he was a hostage in the Philippines, and today we rejoice that he is here with us. In him I would greet and thank those who spend their lives from Christ on the frontiers of evangelisation. Dear young people, if the Lord calls you to serve him more closely, respond with generosity. Rest assured: a life dedicated to God is never spent in vain.”
At the end of the Prayer Vigil the Pope went to the Apostolic House in Loreto. After dinner he went down into the Church where he blessed the community of Capuchin Friars and the nuns of the enclosed order. At the shrine of the Holy House he prayed and then through a live TV link with Montorso esplanade he joined the young people who were beginning a night vigil with the prayer the Pope composed for the Agora. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2007; righe 62, parole 932)