03/21/2009, 00.00
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Pope: young people, dare to make definitive decisions

Dance, music, and choreography for Benedict XVI, who talks to the young people of Angola about the renewal of life that is found in faith. Hedonistic culture encourages fears of serious commitment concerning the future, "yet when young people avoid decisions, there is a risk of never attaining to full maturity!"

Luanda (AsiaNews) - Young people, dare to make definitive decisions, to take on lifelong commitments, whether this means starting a family or hearing the call to the priesthood. The contemporary hedonistic culture creates doubts about such decisions, but God does not leave alone those who are "ready for adventure." This is the call to have the hope and courage necessary for making decisions that Benedict XVI issued this afternoon to tens of thousands of Angolan young people gathered in the Stadio dos Coqueiros in Luanda, for an encounter on the theme, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).

It was a celebration of song, dance, choreography, sometimes involving the entire stadium, traditional drums and costumes that clearly drew the pope - sheltered under a large white and yellow "tent" - in the general atmosphere of joy, with the young people who presented their guest with a "mosaic" of the culture and the different realities of their country.

But also among the young people, as a reminder of a drama that concluded only seven years ago, there were many orphaned and mutilated victims of 27 years of civil war. One of the pope's first thoughts was addressed to them: "At present though, and even in our midst, I see some of the many thousands of young Angolans who have been maimed or disabled as a result of the war and the landmines. I think of the countless tears that have been shed for the loss of your relatives and friends. It is not hard to imagine the dark clouds that still veil the horizon of your fondest hopes and dreams . . ." In an encounter dedicated to the transformation of life in Jesus, Benedict XVI made his own the questions of the suffering young people. "In your hearts I see doubt, a doubt which you have expressed to me today. You are saying: 'Here is what we have. There is no visible sign of the things you are talking about! The promise is backed by God’s word – and we believe it – but when will God arise and renew all things?' Jesus’ answer is the one he gave to his disciples: 'Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?' (Jn 14:1-2). But you persist, dear young people: 'Yes! But when will this happen?' The Apostles asked Jesus a similar question, and his answer was: 'It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth' (Acts 1:7-8). See how Jesus does not leave us without an answer; he tells us one thing very clearly: renewal starts from within; you will receive a power from on high. The power to shape the future is within you."

To the young people who "are filled with great hope, great enthusiasm and a great desire to make a new beginning," Benedict XVI said that "the future is God," "'he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away' (Rev 21:4)." "Dear young people," he told them, "as seeds filled with the power of the same eternal Spirit, sprout up before the warmth of the Eucharist, in which the Lord’s testament is fulfilled: he gives himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to others, for love of him. This is the way that leads to life; it can be followed only by maintaining a constant dialogue with the Lord and among yourselves. The dominant societal culture is not helping you to live by Jesus’ word or to practise the self-giving to which he calls you in accordance with the Father’s plan. Yet, dear friends, you have the power within you, just as it was in Jesus when he said: 'the Father who dwells in me does his works… he who believes in me, will also do the works that I do; and he will do greater works than these, because I go to the Father' (Jn 14:10,12). So do not be afraid to make definitive decisions. You do not lack generosity – that I know! But the idea of risking a lifelong commitment, whether in marriage or in a life of special consecration, can be daunting. You might think: 'The world is in constant flux and life is full of possibilities. Can I make a life-long commitment now, without knowing what unforeseen events lie in store for me? By making a definitive decision, would I not be risking my freedom and tying my own hands?' These are the doubts you feel, and today’s individualistic and hedonist culture aggravates them. Yet when young people avoid decisions, there is a risk of never attaining to full maturity!

"I say to you: Take courage! Dare to make definitive decisions, because in reality these are the only decisions which do not destroy your freedom, but guide it in the right direction, enabling you to move forward and attain something worthwhile in life. There is no doubt about it: life is worthwhile only if you take courage and are ready for adventure, if you trust in the Lord who will never abandon you. Young people of Angola, unleash the power of the Holy Spirit within you, the power from on high! Trusting in this power, like Jesus, risk taking a leap and making a definitive decision. Give life a chance! In this way islands, oases and great stretches of Christian culture will spring up in your midst, and bring to light that 'holy city coming down out of Heaven, from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband'. This is the life worthy of being lived, and I commend it to you from my heart."

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