Pope to the young: Like Mary, do not be afraid. The WYD is for the brave

The Message for the 33rd World Youth Day, which will be celebrated on 25 March next at the diocesan level, released today. Bearing in mind the October Synod, the Pope urges young people to "not fear", to "name" their fears and to live in discernment of  God's call to a "love full of audacity and entirely projected towards the gift of self".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Following the path of the Virgin Mary, from fear to discernment; from the discovery of being "precious" in the eyes of God, to having the courage to say "yes" and to fulfill the gift of self towards the Church and the world in a "love full of audacity", as "brave young people". This is some of the advice that Pope Francis offers to young people in his Message for the 33rd World Youth Day (WYD), which this year is celebrated in the diocese on March 25 next, Palm Sunday. In January 2019, there will be a world gathering in Panama (22-27 January).

The Message, in a style of personal letter addressed to the young, has as its theme "Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God" (Lk 1:30) and unfolds as a meditation on what happened to Mary, bringing it back to feelings and experiences of young people on the theme of "faith and vocational discernment", which are the issues that will be addressed by the Synod of Bishops in October. Mary, says the pontiff, "walks with us towards the Synod and towards the WYD in Panama".

Do not be afraid!

First of all there is the "disturbance" of Mary at the announcement of the angel, which the Pope compares to the " he “shudder” that we feel when faced with decisions about our future, our state of life, our vocation. And after asking " And you young people, what are your fears?", he goes on to describe some of them:

The fear "of not being loved, well-liked or accepted for who you are".  Others “fear that they will not be able to find an emotional security and that they will remain alone”; the "uncertainty of work”, fear of not being able to fulfil one’s dreams.”Today a large number of young people are full of fear, both believers and non-believers".

Francis suggests to young people to "name your fears": "Do not be afraid to face your fears honestly, to recognize them for what they are and to come to terms with them". Thanks to faith, to believe " This means believing in the fundamental goodness of the existence that God has given us", trusting "He will lead us to a good end, even through circumstances and vicissitudes which often bewilder us".

Not being blocked by fear, one opens to "discernment" above all to understanding one's own personal vocation. "Prayerful silence is therefore required in order to hear the voice of God that resounds within our conscience", but also the "dialogue with others", whether priests or mature people who "can accompany you like older brothers and sisters in the faith". Opening oneself up to others is a necessity: "Dear young people, do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone.  Open wide the doors of your life!  May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people, with whom to share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life".


The first reason not to fear is the fact that God calls us by name. The angel, the messenger of God, called Mary by name ... Dear young people, to be called by name is therefore a sign of our great dignity in the eyes of God and a sign of his love for us.  God calls each one of you by name.  All of you are the “you” of God, precious in his eyes, worthy of respect and loved (cf. Is 43:4).  Welcome with joy this dialogue that God offers you, this appeal he makes to you, calling you by name".

You have found favor with God

"The main reason why Mary need not be afraid is that she has found favour with God”.  This “love freely given, not owed"gives courage to the disciple. Even if there is always a "feeling of inadequacy", "he or she knows they are assisted by the grace of God".

"Having 'found grace in His eyes' - explains the pope - means that the Creator sees a unique beauty in our being and that he has a magnificent plan for our lives.  The awareness of this certainty, of course, does not resolve all our problems nor does it take away life’s uncertainties.  But it does have the power to transform our life deeply.  The unknown that tomorrow holds for us is not a dark threat we need to overcome, but a favourable time given to us for living out the uniqueness of our personal vocation, and for sharing it with our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world ".

Courage in the present moment

"From the certainty that God’s grace is with us comes the strength to take courage in the present moment: the courage to carry forward what God asks of us here and now, in every area of our lives; courage to embrace the vocation which God reveals to us; courage to live out our faith without hiding or diminishing it".

The Pope told young people: "I want important responsibilities to be given to you within the Church; that there may be the courage to make space for you; and that you may be prepared to take on these responsibilities". He pushes them once again to look at Mary, discovering a "love full of audacity and all projected towards the gift of self".

And he concludes with an invitation and a friendly challenge: " Dear young people, the Lord, the Church, the world are waiting for your answer to the unique call that each one receives in this life!  As World Youth Day in Panama draws closer, I invite you to prepare yourselves for our gathering with the joy and enthusiasm of those who wish to participate in such a great adventure.  WYD is for the courageous!  Not for young people who are searching only for comfort and who withdraw whenever difficulties arise.  Do you accept the challenge?".

The Message has the date of 11 February last, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.