Aleppo, Syria - Mar 25, 2013 - The new pope's testimony gave new strength to the people of Syria, beleaguered by more than two years of war. Mgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Melkite archbishop of Aleppo, told AsiaNews that "Francis helps us with his speeches, showing us the way to cope with the tragedy we are going through. He reminds us that we live for Christ and that we must do everything possible to stay close to Jesus, who is the only one who can save us. In Aleppo, but also elsewhere in Syria, bishops, priests, religious and faithful have carved this message in their hearts. Everyone is trying to translate it into action and spread it across their dioceses, parishes and families."
The decision of faith is so strong that more than 2,000 Syrians havebraved bombs and the danger of attacks to take part in yesterday's Palm Sunday Mass in Aleppo's Greek Melkite Cathedral of the Virgin Mary.
Archbishop Jeanbart said that he based his Palm Sunday sermon on the pope's words. "I reminded the faithful that Christ is with us in this tragedy and that he would not let us down, that peace would come."
For the prelate, violence, war and Islamic radicalism have not stopped people from hoping and changing their hearts.
"In Syria," he said, "Muslims cannot convert to Christianity. If they did, they would put their lives at risk. Nevertheless, a few days ago, a man told me that he wanted to become Christian and would like to be baptised. This is an exception in our community, but it is a strong sign of the power of Jesus and the Christian message. "
With a population of 300,000, Aleppo's Christian community is the third largest in the Arab world after Beirut and Cairo.
Under siege for almost eight months, the city has seen its central districts and suburbs divided between Islamic rebels and the Syrian army with houses and buildings used in the fighting.
The Syrian air force has completely destroyed Aleppo's old city, a UNESCO heritage site, forcing thousands of residents to flee.
Recently, in Khan al-Assal, a few kilometres from the city, chemical weapons were used on civilians. (S.C.)
VATICAN CITY - Hundreds of people have been giving public witness to the ways Pope John Paul II changed or even saved their lives.
Men and women of all ages and nationalities have sent personal stories to www.karol-wojtyla.org -- a website run by the Diocese of Rome dedicated to the late pope's beatification and canonization.
As of April 28, the multi-lingual site published more than 400 testimonies from people sharing the ways they feel Pope John Paul interceded on their behalf or brought them back to the church.
Many are notes of thanks for prayers answered, such as a risky surgery gone well or troubles in the family resolved.
Others are personal accounts of meeting or seeing the pope during one of his many trips abroad and the feeling of being in the presence of a holy and charismatic man. Others were influenced by the way Pope John Paul reached out to people in every walk of life.
One woman wrote that she was driven to prostitution to support her family and had lost her faith in God. "I ask for pardon ... in a moment of anger, I tore your picture to pieces," she wrote.
She implored the late pope to "always be near me. I ask you this. I don't have anyone but you! Please help me find my faith again. I will continue to speak with you. I love you."
Some tell of miraculous healings from illnesses like multiple sclerosis or lung cancer. There is even the testimony of the French nun whose healing was accepted as the miracle needed for Pope John Paul's May 1 beatification.
Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a member of the Little Sisters of the Catholic Motherhood, had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and believes she was cured in 2005 through the Polish pope's intercession. Her story recounts the debilitating progression of her disease, the miraculous healing, and how her new life has left her with a new love for the Eucharist and a devotion to the holy sacrament.
One man from Calgary, Canada, wrote about being trapped underwater after a helicopter carrying 20 workers crashed into the Persian Gulf. He said that, inexplicably, he found himself alive and floating on the water's surface even though he hadn't been able to unlatch himself from the seat straps.
He said he was one of eight people to survive the crash. Even his rosary, which he kept locked in his briefcase, was recovered.
"Personally I believe that the sainthood of John Paul II and his prayers also on my behalf to the God Almighty saved my life," he wrote.
A writer from Barentu, Eritrea, who was living in Rome said his mother and uncle were cured thanks to prayers to Pope John Paul after doctors had given up on them. The writer said he used to pray at Pope John Paul's tomb and cry.
One year, a day after the anniversary of the pope's death, he phoned his relatives in Eritrea to find that his mother and uncle were fine. The family now prays the rosary in a chapel that another relative built out of straw, he wrote.
There are stories of miraculous births after infertility or repeated miscarriages, and the tale of an Italian child prodigy named Karol who, the mother said, would have died at birth because of severe medical complications, if not for the intercession of Pope John Paul.
Today, the child is 4 years old, and "the miracle isn't over," she wrote in April.
He knows the multiplication table up to the number 14, can count backwards and do fractions, and he can name and identify on a map major cities in Italy and capitals of the world, she wrote.
"Obviously I can't list everything he knows and the beautiful thing is no one ever forced him. It's like a game for him. I don't know about you, but I still see the pope's blessings day after day," said the mother.
Vatican City, April 5, 2009 - A crowd of at least 40,000 people took part in the first ceremonies for Holy Week, with the celebration of Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square, presided over by Benedict XVI. Most of them were young people from Rome and various nations, with multicolored T-shirts, hats, shoes, bandannas, and a thicket of palms and olive branches, who had come for the 24th World Youth Day, which this year is celebrated at the diocesan level. Last year, the Day took place at the worldwide level in Sydney (Australia), and in 2011 will be held in Madrid. For this reason, at the end of the celebration Australian young people handed over the Cross of the young people to their Spanish peers.
After the long and moving singing of the Passion of Jesus according to St. Mark, the pope addressed the young people with a profound, demanding proposal. Taking his cue from today's celebration, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the pontiff recalled the value of the days in Sydney ("the essential objective was this: We want to see Jesus"), acclaimed, as in today's liturgy, as "he who comes in the name of the Lord," and as the "kingdom of our father David that is to come!" (Mark 11:9f).
The pope asked: "Do we understand what is the Kingdom of which He spoke in the interrogation before Pilate? Do we comprehend what it means that this Kingdom is not of this world? Or do we perhaps desire that instead it should be of this world?" "We can recognize two essential characteristics of this Kingdom," he explained. "The first is that this Kingdom passes through the cross . . . the second characteristic says: his Kingdom is universal."
But Benedict XVI immediately stressed what makes the kingdom of Jesus Christ different: "[it] is not the rule of a political power, but is exclusively based on the free adherence of love - a love that, for its part, responds to the love of Jesus Christ that is given for all. I think that we must constantly relearn these two things - first of all, universality, catholicity. This means that no one can set up himself, his culture, and his world as absolute. This requires that we all accept one another, renouncing something of our own. Universality includes the mystery of the cross - transcending oneself, obedience to the common word of Jesus Christ in the common Church. Universality is always a transcendence of oneself, the renunciation of something personal. Universality and the cross go together. This is the only way in which peace is created."
To the "We want to see Jesus" (John 12:21) - the theme of the Day in Sydney - Jesus responds with his words about the "grain of wheat that dies" (John 12:24), which is "the fundamental law of human existence. 'Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life' (John 12:25). He who wants to have his life for himself, to live only for himself, to clutch everything to himself and exploit all of its possibilities - this is the very person who loses his life. It becomes tedious and empty. Only in the abandonment of oneself, only in the disinterested gift of the 'I' in favor of the 'you', only in the 'yes' to a greater life, proper to God, does our own life become full and great."
The pope explained that this principle established by Jesus is in the end the very principle of love: "Love . . . means leaving oneself, giving oneself, not wanting to possess oneself, but becoming free from one's self: not turning back upon oneself - what will become of me - but looking forward, toward the other - toward God and toward the people He sends into my life. And this principle of love, which defines the journey of man, is once again identified with the mystery of the cross, with the mystery of the death and resurrection that we encounter in Christ."
"An upright life," the pope specified, "also includes sacrifice, renunciation. He who promises a life without this constantly renewed gift of self deceives people. There is no such thing as a successful life without sacrifice. If I look back over my own life, I must say that precisely the moments in which I said 'yes' to a renunciation were the great and important moments of my life."
The pope then turned his consideration to the moments of "Jesus' fear," "his fear before the power of death, before the entire abyss of evil that He sees and into which he must descend." "We as well," Benedict XVI explained, "are able to pray in this way. We as well are able to complain before the Lord as Job did, to present to him all of our questions which, in the face of the injustice of the world and the difficulty of our own selves, emerge within us. Before Him, we must not take refuge in pious phrases, in a fictitious world. Praying always means fighting with God as well, and like Jacob we are able to say to Him: 'I will not let you go until you bless me' (Gen. 32:27)."
In the end, however, "the glory of God, his lordship, his will is increasingly more important, and more true than my thoughts and my will. And this is the essential thing about our prayer and our lives: learning this just order of reality, accepting it intimately; confiding in God and believing that He is doing the right thing; that his will is truth and love; that my life becomes good if I learn to adhere to this order. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are for us the guarantee that we can truly trust in God. And it is in this way that his Kingdom is realized."
Returning to the symbol of the cross of the young people that passes from country to country, accompanied by the young people, he stresses: "When we touch the Cross, moreover when we carry it, we touch the mystery of God, the mystery of Jesus Christ. The mystery that God so loved the world - us - as to give his only begotten Son for us (cf. John 3:16). We touch the marvelous mystery of the love of God, the only truly redeeming reality. But we also touch the fundamental law, the essential norm of our life, meaning the fact that without the 'yes' to the Cross, without walking in communion with Christ day after day, life cannot be a success. The more we are able to make certain renunciations out of love for the great truth and love of God, the more our lives become great and rich. He who wishes to keep his life for himself, loses it. He who gives his life - every day, in the small gestures that are part of a great decision - he is the one who finds it. This is the demanding but also profoundly beautiful and liberating truth into which we wish to enter step by step during the Cross's journey across the continents. May the Lord bless this journey. Amen."
"Without justice, without fighting all forms of corruption, without respecting the rule of law, true peace is impossible and citizens will clearly find it difficult to put faith in their leaders. Indeed, without respect for the freedom of each individual, it is not possible to speak of peace".
The pope said this on Thursday while addressing the new ambassador of Gabon to the Holy See, Firmin Mboutsou, who presented his Letters of Credence. The Holy See and the West African state have enjoyed diplomatic relations for 40 years.
The Holy Father invited the "authorities and men and women of good will, especially on the beloved continent of Africa, to commit themselves ever more intensely to building a peaceful, fraternal and united world".
The Church, he said, is ready to provide collaboration and support for "all those people whose primary concern is to build a society respectful of the most elemental rights of human beings".
Regarding Gabon, the Holy Father said "the Church contributes and wishes to contribute ever more to educating men, women and children, without distinction, respecting people and their cultures, and transmitting to each the spiritual and moral values indispensable for human development. In the same way, over her long history, she participates in healthcare education".
The pope expressed the hope that, through agreement, Gabon "may fully recognise and support this charitable service" which "will have beneficial effects on religious presence and on the dynamism of structures in the fields of social work and healthcare".
April 19, 2008 - By Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Young Friends,
"Proclaim the Lord Christ … and always have your answer ready for people who ask the reason for the hope that is within you" (1 Pet 3:15). With these words from the First Letter of Peter I greet each of you with heartfelt affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his kind words of welcome and I also thank the representatives chosen from among you for their gestures of welcome. To Bishop Walsh, Rector of Saint Joseph Seminary, staff and seminarians, I offer my special greetings and gratitude.
Young friends, I am very happy to have the opportunity to speak with you. Please pass on my warm greetings to your family members and relatives, and to the teachers and staff of the various schools, colleges and universities you attend. I know that many people have worked hard to ensure that our gathering could take place. I am most grateful to them all. Also, I wish to acknowledge your singing to me Happy Birthday! Thank you for this moving gesture; I give you all an "A plus" for your German pronunciation! This evening I wish to share with you some thoughts about being disciples of Jesus Christ ? walking in the Lord's footsteps, our own lives become a journey of hope.
In front of you are the images of six ordinary men and women who grew up to lead extraordinary lives. The Church honors them as Venerable, Blessed, or Saint: each responded to the Lord's call to a life of charity and each served him here, in the alleys, streets and suburbs of New York. I am struck by what a remarkably diverse group they are: poor and rich, lay men and women - one a wealthy wife and mother - priests and sisters, immigrants from afar, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior father and Algonquin mother, another a Haitian slave, and a Cuban intellectual.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Padre Felix Varela: any one of us could be among them, for there is no stereotype to this group, no single mold. Yet a closer look reveals that there are common elements. Inflamed with the love of Jesus, their lives became remarkable journeys of hope. For some, that meant leaving home and embarking on a pilgrim journey of thousands of miles. For each there was an act of abandonment to God, in the confidence that he is the final destination of every pilgrim. And all offered an outstretched hand of hope to those they encountered along the way, often awakening in them a life of faith. Through orphanages, schools and hospitals, by befriending the poor, the sick and the marginalized, and through the compelling witness that comes from walking humbly in the footsteps of Jesus, these six people laid open the way of faith, hope and charity to countless individuals, including perhaps your own ancestors.
And what of today? Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the streets of New York, in the troubled neighborhoods of large cities, in the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can trust? God is our origin and our destination, and Jesus the way. The path of that journey twists and turns ? just as it did for our saints ? through the joys and the trials of ordinary, everyday life: within your families, at school or college, during your recreation activities, and in your parish communities. All these places are marked by the culture in which you are growing up. As young Americans you are offered many opportunities for personal development, and you are brought up with a sense of generosity, service and fairness. Yet you do not need me to tell you that there are also difficulties: activities and mindsets which stifle hope, pathways which seem to lead to happiness and fulfillment but in fact end only in confusion and fear.
My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew - infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion - before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.
Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just.
The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father "you have restored us to life!" (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds! (cf. Prayer at the Lighting of the Easter Candle).
What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation - especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ? a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands - your hands - reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.
The second area of darkness - that which affects the mind - often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.
Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth's place - or better said its absence - an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a "freedom" which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ's very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).
How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom which brings fulfillment and lasting happiness? Let us again turn to the saints. How did their witness truly free others from the darkness of heart and mind? The answer is found in the kernel of their faith; the kernel of our faith. The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod's dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: "Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!" (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is "the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride" (Exsultet). This is Christ's light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope - Christ's light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ's way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.
At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ's radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God's presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.
Dear friends, the example of the saints invites us, then, to consider four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith: personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations.
What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should "pray constantly" (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God's path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.
There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God's revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen (cf. 1 Jn 1:2-3; Dei Verbum, 1). Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God's whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.
In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God's people in "the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ's Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension - what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this "work of Jesus" is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the "work of Jesus" is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church's liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world - saints and sinners alike - open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).
Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church's liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 12). The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ's eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.
Dear young people, finally I wish to share a word about vocations. First of all my thoughts go to your parents, grandparents and godparents. They have been your primary educators in the faith. By presenting you for baptism, they made it possible for you to receive the greatest gift of your life. On that day you entered into the holiness of God himself. You became adoptive sons and daughters of the Father. You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling place of his Spirit. Let us pray for mothers and fathers throughout the world, particularly those who may be struggling in any way - socially, materially, spiritually. Let us honor the vocation of matrimony and the dignity of family life. Let us always appreciate that it is in families that vocations are given life.
Gathered here at Saint Joseph Seminary, I greet the seminarians present and indeed encourage all seminarians throughout America. I am glad to know that your numbers are increasing! The People of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 33). Dear seminarians, I pray for you daily. Remember that what counts before the Lord is to dwell in his love and to make his love shine forth for others.
Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests contribute greatly to the mission of the Church. Their prophetic witness is marked by a profound conviction of the primacy with which the Gospel shapes Christian life and transforms society. Today, I wish to draw your attention to the positive spiritual renewal which Congregations are undertaking in relation to their charism. The word charism means a gift freely and graciously given. Charisms are bestowed by the Holy Spirit, who inspires founders and foundresses, and shapes Congregations with a subsequent spiritual heritage. The wondrous array of charisms proper to each Religious Institute is an extraordinary spiritual treasury. Indeed, the history of the Church is perhaps most beautifully portrayed through the history of her schools of spirituality, most of which stem from the saintly lives of founders and foundresses. Through the discovery of charisms, which yield such a breadth of spiritual wisdom, I am sure that some of you young people will be drawn to a life of apostolic or contemplative service. Do not be shy to speak with Religious Brothers, Sisters or Priests about the charism and spirituality of their Congregation. No perfect community exists, but it is fidelity to a founding charism, not to particular individuals, that the Lord calls you to discern. Have courage! You too can make your life a gift of self for the love of the Lord Jesus and, in him, of every member of the human family (cf. Vita Consecrata, 3).
Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord. Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church's liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ's disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free. With these sentiments of great hope in you I bid you farewell, until we meet again in Sydney this July for World Youth Day! And as a pledge of my love for you and your families, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.