Pope in Bahrain: Dear young people, we need you!
By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis encouraged young people to “Never lose the courage to dream big and to live life to the full,” during an encounter with youths at Sacred Heart School in Awali, Bahrain on Saturday.
Taking his cue from the testimonies of three young people who spoke at the beginning of the event, Pope Francis offered “three small invitations,” insisting he was not speaking so much as a teacher, “but as someone concerned to support and encourage you.”
Embrace the culture of care
The Pope invited young people to “embrace a culture of care,” explaining that “caring means developing an inner attitude of empathy” that leads to concern for other people and their interests. This culture of care, he said, can be a “turning point” or “antidote” for the modern world, which is so often closed in on itself.
Pope Francis told his listeners that in order to care for others, they must first care for themselves, by listening to the movements of their hearts; and to speak with God, sharing the joys and sorrows of their everyday life.
“If we embrace” the culture of care, the Pope continued, “we will make the seed of fraternity grow. And this is my second invitation, to spread fraternity.”
Taking up an expression from Abdulla’s testimony, the Holy Father called on young people to “strive to be champions of fraternity.” By doing so, the young will become “builders of the future, because only in fraternity will our world have a future.”
Then, building on Nevin’s witness, the Pope encouraged them to build relationships, especially a relationship with God, which can make it easier to see God in others.
Accept the challenge of making decisions
Finally, Pope Francis called on young people to “accept the challenges of making decisions in life.” Making good decisions, he said, involves learning how to weigh options and choose the right path.
Responding to questions raised by Merina, the Pope encouraged the youth to “press forward without fear, but never go it alone.” God is always with us, the Pope said, recalling Merina’s words that we can learn to distinguish God’s voice “through silent prayer and intimate dialogue with Him.”
The Pope also encouraged young people to seek out “good counselors” in life before turning to the Internet for advice. “each of us,” he said, “needs to be accompanied on the road of life.”
“Never lose the courage to dream big”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis told young people, emphatically, “We need you! We need your creativity, your dreams and your courage, your charm and your smiles, your contagious joy and that touch of craziness that you can bring to every situation, which helps to break us out of our stale habits and ways of looking at things.”
And he assured them, “The Church is with you and needs each one of you very much, so that we can be renewed, explore new paths, experiment with new languages, and become more joyful and hospitable.”
Summing up his message for young people, the Pope encouraged them to “never lose the courage to dream big and to live life to the full! Adopt the culture of care and spread it. Become champions of fraternity. Face life’s challenges by letting yourselves be guided by God’s faithful creativity and by good counsellors.”
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