Saturday, April 01, 2006

John Paul And The Youth

Why were the young people attracted to Pope John Paul II? It was for the simple reason that a child always needs a father. It was because he was their father and they knew he loved them. And today, the youth who knew him remember him with love and pray to him for his intercession. At one time, he admitted that it was because of the Holy Spirit that draws the young people to him. Having been a young pilgrim of the World Youth days of John Paul II and being a speck among the 7 million pilgrims during the 10th WYD in the Philippines, I can attest to the power of the Holy Spirit in him. One cannot help but be moved in his presence and have his pontificate leave an indelible mark on one's spiritual life and vocation. Now, he continues to love us more in Heaven. Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

John Paul II’s pontificate has often focused on young people. When plans for the first World Youth Days were announced in 1986 cynics predicted that perhaps twenty young people would be willing to profess their faith in public by attending. Seventeen years later, over one million young people came out to greet the Holy Father. What attracts these young people? Why do they come out to listen to Pope John Paul. A Romanian academic in France believes, "For a long time no one spoke any more of God or of love. Everyone thought that it would make people laugh in derision. But now the crowds have come to listen, and they do not laugh" (Le Matin, June 4, 1980).
Giuseppe Prezzolini, an Italian intellectual, believes they come to listen because they hear in his words "something that transcends everything else." John Paul II takes young people seriously, as people struggling with the meaning of life. He is virtually the only world figure who calls young people to bear burdens and make sacrifices, and his trust tapped into the young people’s thirst for the heroic and their search for God. He does not modify his message so it will be well received. He speaks the truth candidly, and young people seem to like that. The radical nature of the Gospel message motivates young people, he believes. He said in Paris, "Permissiveness does not make people happy. Consumer society does not make people happy. It has never done so!" (June 1, 1980)
Pope John Paul really believes in young people. He has confidence in them and shows over and over again that he loves them. He delights in their company and listens with interest to what they have to say. He believes that beneath apparent indifference there is a strong religious yearning. It is necessary to rid people of the prejudice that smothers their natural longing for God. "Dear friends, let yourselves be captivated by Christ; heed his invitation and follow him!" (December 21, 1993)

John Paul confessed at Catania, Sicily, in 1994: "Young people always rejuvenate me." The following day he said, "I am always happy to meet with young people; I don’t know why, but I am.."

From Daughters of St. Paul. (Images 1, 2, 3)


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