Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Benedict XVI to Youth: Don't Sell Your Soul

Hears Confessions of Young People Preparing for Sydney

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI told youth to be on guard against the possibility of selling or losing their own humanity, and encouraged them instead to stay open to the Holy Spirit.
The Pope spoke with youth Thursday when he presided over a penitential liturgy with young people from Rome in preparation for the 23rd World Youth Day, to be held in Australia this summer. He joined with hundreds of other priests to hear the confessions of the youth.

"At the roots of being Christian," the Holy Father told the young people, "is an encounter with an event, with a Person. This opens a new horizon and, with it, a decisive sense of direction." In order "to favor this encounter, you are preparing to open your hearts to God, confessing your sins and -- by the action of the Holy Spirit and through the ministry of the Church -- receiving forgiveness and peace."

"Thus," he added, "we make room in ourselves for the presence of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity which is the 'soul' and the 'vital breath' of Christian life. The Spirit helps us to grow 'in an understanding of Jesus that becomes ever deeper and more joyful and, at the same time, to put the Gospel into practice.'"

Hiding an empty life

On this subject, the Pontiff recalled one of his own Pentecost meditations when he was archbishop of Munich and Freising, inspired by the film "Seelenwanderung," in which one of the characters sells his soul in exchange for worldly success: "From the moment he freed himself of his soul, he no longer had any scruples or humanity, providing striking evidence of how the facade of success often hides an empty life.

"A human being cannot throw away his own soul, because it is the soul that makes him human. [...] Yet he does have the frightening possibility of being inhuman, of remaining a person but at the same time selling or losing his own humanity.

"The distance between the human person and the inhuman being is immense, yet it cannot be demonstrated; it is what is truly important, yet it is apparently without importance."

Likewise, Benedict XVI continued, the Holy Spirit "cannot be seen with the eyes. Whether it enters into a person or not, it cannot be seen or demonstrated; but it changes and renews all the perspectives of human life. The Holy Spirit does not change the exterior situations of life, but the interior."

"Let us then," he said, "prepare ourselves, with a sincere examination of conscience, to present ourselves before the people to whom Christ entrusted the ministry of reconciliation. [...] Thus will we experience true joy, the joy that derives from the mercy of God, flows into our hearts and reconciles us to him. [...] Be bearers of this joy, which comes from welcoming the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and witness its fruits in your own lives.

"Always remember that you are 'temples of the Spirit.' Allow him to dwell in you and humbly obey his commands, in order to make your own contribution to the building of the Church and to discern the type of vocation to which the Lord calls you. [...] Be generous, allow yourselves to be helped by using the sacrament of confession and by the practice of spiritual guidance."

A Vatican welcome

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by recalling how 25 years ago, Pope John Paul II inaugurated the San Lorenzo Youth Center near the Vatican "to facilitate the welcome of young people, the sharing of experiences and the witness of faith and, above all, the prayer that helps us to discover the love of God."

On that March 13, 1983, John Paul II said: "Where can we go in this world, with sin and guilt, without the cross? The cross takes upon itself all the misery of the world, which is born of sin. It is the sign of grace. [...] It encourages us to sacrifice ourselves for others."

"May this experience be renewed for you today," Benedict XVI said. "Look to the cross now, and let us accept God's love which is given to us by the cross, by the Holy Spirit which comes from the pierced side of the Lord and, as John Paul II said: 'Yourselves become redeemers of the young people of the world.'"

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