As World Youth Day approaches, which will take place in Madrid from August 16-21, the Spanish bishops, gathered in plenary assembly, address this brief message to you to encourage you to take part in it. We know that many of you are preparing yourselves with eagerness and encouraging your friends and companions. For our part, we invite you all, as Benedict XVI has in the message he addressed to you in connection with this day: "I would like all young people -- those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, but also those who are wavering or uncertain, or who do not believe in him -- to share this experience, which can prove decisive for their lives. It is an experience of the Lord Jesus, risen and alive, and of his love for each of us."
1. Live with joy and hope
From the beginning of the Church, its pastors have looked to you with hope and joy because you are the present and, above all, the future of society and of the Church. In his first letter, St. John addresses you with these words: "I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:14). Today, the Successor of Peter writes to you saying: "I await each of you with great joy. Jesus Christ wishes to make you firm in faith through the Church." We also, as your bishops, have confidence in you and regard you not only as recipients of the Gospel of Christ, but as protagonists of the history of the Church and of her building. The motto of World Youth Day could not be more expressive: "Planted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith" (cf. Colossians 2:7). In this beautiful stage of life, which youth is, we encourage you strengthen and build your faith, to deepen your roots in Christ, who loves you and calls you to friendship and proposes your following him in the priesthood, in consecrated life or in marriage to make of you his witnesses. He will give you the light and strength to build your future, through study, a profession and work that, despite the economic difficulties and present-day unemployment, you struggle to obtain.
Pope John Paul II, the announcement of whose beatification has filled us with joy, put you at the center of his interest and mission. He has been called the "Pope of young people," because of the affection and dedication with which he distinguished you. He did not gain your affection through adulation or posing to you reduced exigencies in the following of Christ. On the contrary, he asked you for the best of yourselves, the capacity to give yourselves totally to the love of God and men and to lead a Christian life removed from all mediocrity, going against the current, if necessary, of our time. How many times he invited you to be saints! Thinking of you, he began the passionate adventure of World Youth Days so that, as young people, you would manifest to the world the joy of living in Christ, the youth and beauty of the Church, and the firmness of a faith that is for all a sign of the presence of the living God. Yes, friends, this is the meaning of the forthcoming World Day to which we invite you, convinced of your openness to truth and of your capacity to create bonds of friendship with young people from all over the world.
2. Celebrate a genuine feast of faith
Within a few months the Church that journeys in Spain will live the experience of receiving in the dioceses and finally in Madrid hundreds of thousands of young people convoked by Benedict XVI to celebrate the 26th World Youth Day. For almost one week, you will have the occasion to pray personally and in community, to participate in the catechesis of bishops from all over the world on the meaning of being Christian, you will celebrate the forgiveness of God and the Eucharist, and you will express in many ways -- concerts, exhibitions and different cultural events -- the joy of the faith, which changes your life and projects you onto the world as creators of works where charity, justice and truth shine. The Pope's presence will enable you to feel yourselves members of the universal People, which is the Catholic Church.
Hence, World Youth Day will be an authentic celebration of the faith, which will show how Christians are what today's world needs: "peacemakers, promoters of justice and workers for a more humane world, a world in accordance with God's plan," who commit themselves "in different sectors of the life of society, contributing effectively to the welfare of all." It is a question, young friends, of making visible that "Christ is not a treasure meant for us alone; he is the most precious treasure we have, one that is meant to be shared with others. In our age of globalization, be witnesses of Christian hope all over the world."
We invite you to take part in World Youth Day as expression of your adherence to Christ and membership in the Church. For this participation to be true and fruitful, we encourage you from now on to go on a spiritual pilgrimage toward Christ, conscious that "the quality of our meeting will depend above all on our spiritual preparation, our prayer, our common hearing of the word of God and our mutual support." We ourselves, your priests, catechists and young people of your communities will support you in this task. You are not alone, because you are part of the one Church of Christ that journeys in the world. We only ask you to trust and to put into play all your capacities."
3. Put forth the young face of the Church
Your responsibility as young people of the host country is very great. In a certain sense you will be the face of the young Church that will receive pilgrims from the whole world. The days of hospitality in the dioceses will be an unforgettable experience to live the universality of the Church and the enormous richness and vitality of each diocese of Spain, which received the Gospel of Christ from the first hour of Christianity.
Encourage your friends and companions to take part in the different tasks of hospitality and in volunteer work, in the celebrations of faith and in the activities that each diocese prepares. Offer yourselves also as volunteers for the many organizational tasks in Madrid, venue of World Youth Day. Efforts will be made to serve everyone so that all will feel welcomed and loved for themselves. We also ask you for solidarity with young people from the neediest countries. Many of them, often isolated from experiences of this kind, wish to take part in the Day to live dimensions of the faith and of ecclesial life that enrich them. We also expect young people from countries where the Church is persecuted, who will strengthen us with their testimony. Be generous when you register, contributing your quota of solidarity. You will make many of your companions happy.
We do not wish to end without thanking you ahead of time for receiving this message and for your work in the Church. Receive our words as a sign of the affection and closeness we feel for you. The Church needs you to proclaim to all the love of God. We know that you also love us and need us to grow in your faith and in the Christian life. We journey in Christ, the way that leads us to the Father. We are all wayfarers and we all aspire to reach our goal together. Are these not sufficient reasons to live in the communion that the Spirit has given us? Will not our joy be greater if we all meet with the Successor of Peter when he comes to confirm us in the faith?
Let us pray therefore for one another so that this World Day, as the previous ones, will root and build us in Christ and convert our faith into the solid rock on which our life is founded. We will not be lacking the protection of Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, who from the goal of our pilgrimage watches over and protects our steps.
We bless you in the Lord Jesus Christ
Madrid, March 2, 2011
18 March 2011
Spanish Bishops: John Paul II gained the love of young people by calling them to be saints
With the following message, the Bishop of Spain have invited the youth of the world to the World Youth Day 2011, to be held in Madrid (with my emphases):