By Devin Watkins
In a video message sent on Monday, Pope Francis urges the young people of Poland – and youth around the world – to let Christ enter every aspect of their lives.
His message came on the evening of 18 May, which marks 100 years since the birth of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope Saint John Paul II.
“Saint John Paul II was a gift of God to the Church and to Poland, your motherland. His earthly pilgrimage,” said the Pope, “was marked by his passion for life and by a fascination with the mystery of God, of the world and of humankind.”
Man of mercy
Pope Francis said he remembers his predecessor as “a great man of mercy”.
He recalled the Polish Pope’s encyclical Dives in Misericordia, his canonization of St. Faustina, and the creation of Divine Mercy Sunday.
“In the light of God’s merciful love, he captured the specificity and beauty of the vocation of women and men; he understood the needs of children, of young people and of adults, also considering cultural and social conditioning. Everyone had an experience of him.”
Reference point for families
The Pope went on to say everyone can experience John Paul II and learn of his life and teachings.
Among the Saint’s teachings, “love and care for the family” stand out. They provide a “secure point of reference for finding concrete solutions” to the challenges of family life, the Pope said.
Pope Francis recalled the many sufferings that Pope John Paul II experienced. He had to deal with the death of his mother, father, and brother, the “atrocities of Nazism” and, later, the threat of Atheistic Communism.
“Difficulties, even tough ones, are a proof of maturity and of faith,” said the Pope, “a test which can only be passed based on the power of Christ, who died and rose again.”
Become Christ’s hands
Finally, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the young people of Krakow, of Poland, and of the world might “enter Christ with your whole life.”
Jesus, said the Pope, “wants to turn your hands, my hands, our hands into signs of reconciliation, of communion, of creation.”
Below please find the full text of the video message:
Dear young people, this year we celebrate 100 years since the birth of Saint John Paul II.
It is a wonderful opportunity for me to address you, young people of Krakow, thinking about how much he loved young people, and remembering my presence among you for WYD in 2016.
Saint John Paul II was a gift of God to the Church and to Poland, your motherland. His earthly pilgrimage, which began on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice and ended 15 years ago in Rome, was marked by his passion for life and by a fascination with the mystery of God, of the world and of humankind.
I remember him as a great man of mercy: I am thinking of his Encyclical Dives in Misericordia, of the canonisation of Saint Faustina and of the establishment of Divine Mercy Sunday.
In the light of God’s merciful love, he captured the specificity and beauty of the vocation of women and men, he understood the needs of children, of young people and of adults, also considering cultural and social conditioning. Everyone had an experience of him. Or, perhaps, everyone experienced him?
Today, you too can experience him, and know of his life and his teachings, which are available to everyone thanks to the internet. Each and every one of you, dear boys and girls, bears the imprint of your family, with its joys and sorrows.
Love and care for the family is a characteristic feature of John Paul II. His teachings are a secure point of reference for finding concrete solutions to difficulties and to the challenges that modern-day families face.
But personal and family problems are not an obstacle on the road to holiness and happiness. They weren’t for young Karol Wojtyła, either, who suffered the loss of his mother, brother and father.
As a student he experienced the atrocities of Nazism, that took so many of his friends from him. After the war, as a priest and bishop, he was forced to face Atheistic Communism. Difficulties, even tough ones, are a proof of maturity and of faith; a test which can only be passed based on the power of Christ, who died and rose again.
John Paul II reminded the whole Church of this in his first Encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, where it says, “The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into Him with all his own self”.
Dear young people, this is what I hope for each and every one of you: to enter Christ with your whole life. And I hope that the celebrations of the centenary of the birth of Saint John Paul II will inspire within you the desire to walk bravely with Jesus, who is “the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal ‘more’. As He did on Pentecost, the Lord wants to work one of the greatest miracles we can experience: He wants to turn your hands, my hands, our hands into signs of reconciliation, of communion, of creation. He wants your hands, boys and girls: He wants your hands to continue building the world of today”.
I entrust you all to the intercession of Saint John Paul II and I bless you, wholeheartedly. And you, please, do not forget to pray for me.