Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI called on young people to not pursue power, money and prestige, but to find true joy in Christ and live a life of generous service to others.
In his message for World Youth Day 2012, he told the world’s young Catholics to start making the world a better, more just and humane place right now, even while they continue to pursue their studies, talents and interests.
Do not be content in giving the minimum, he said.
“The world needs men and women who are competent and generous, willing to be at the service of the common good,” the pope said.
The Vatican and most dioceses around the world will mark World Youth Day on Palm Sunday, April 1. International celebrations of World Youth Day are normally held every two-three years.
In the message, released by the Vatican in English, Spanish, Italian and French March 27, the pope chose the theme from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
“Joy is at the heart of the Christian experience,” the pope said. In a world marked by so much sorrow and anxiety, “joy is an important witness to the beauty and reliability of the Christian faith.”
He told young people to recognize that the many temptations and false promises of modern-day culture veer people away from true and lasting happiness.
People are often pressured “to seek immediate goals, achievements and pleasures” as the dominant culture “fosters fickleness more than perseverance, hard work and fidelity to commitments,” he said.
“May your entire life be guided by a spirit of service and not by the pursuit of power, material success and money,” he said.
God loves his children so much, he sent his only son to be with them and he gave people specific directions — the Ten Commandments — for following the right path in life, Pope Benedict said.
While the commandments may seem like just “a list of prohibitions and an obstacle to our freedom,” in light of Christ’s message, they are “a set of essential and valuable rules leading to a happy life,” he said.
“Christianity is sometimes depicted as a way of life that stifles our freedom and goes against our desires for happiness and joy,” he said.
Rather, faith in Christ, who is truly present for everyone, brings real joy, he said, because Christians recognize they are not alone and that Christ is always near, especially during times of great difficulty.
“Christian joy is not a flight from reality, but a supernatural power that helps us to deal with the challenges of daily life.”
The pope told young people, “Learn to see how God is working in your lives and discover him hidden within the events of daily life,” to know that God will never abandon anyone, and know that God in his mercy always offers sinner the possibility of redemption.
“If the way Christians live at times appears dull and boring, you should be the first to show the joyful and happy side of faith,” he said, as he urged young people to share the good news of Christ with everyone.
The text of the pope’s message in English is posted online at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/youth/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20120315_youth_en.html.