1 See John 1,5.
2 Dostoyevsky's notebooks . "Hosanna" is a Hebrew acclamation which expresses gratitude and praise to God.
3 "This is what love is: not that we have loved God, but that God loved us... If God loved us in this way, we too should love one another" (1 John 4,10-11).
4 "You come to resemble God by acquiring goodness. Forge a merciful and kind heart in yourself, in order to clothe yourself in Christ" (Saint Basil, fourth century).
5 Everywhere across the earth, Christians are eager to take on responsibilities, often very specific ones, in order to make the earth a better place. And how surprised we are to discover everything that is made possible by a love drawn from the wellsprings of the faith!
6 Those who discover how fragile their faith is should remember that faith is quite a simple reality. We move from hesitations to the trusting of faith a thousand times over, our whole life long. In a prayer, Saint Augustine said to Christ, "My desire was not to be more certain of you, but more strengthened in you."
7 See John 15,13.
8 See Romans 11,29.
9 Before leaving his disciples, Christ promised them: "God will send you the Holy Spirit, who will come to comfort you, who will be with you always" (John 14,16). Just as Christ was present on earth with those he loved, by the Holy Spirit he is still just as present for us today.
10 Saint Augustine, fourth century.
11 Those who have longed for a communion with God at least once in their life are more numerous than we may think.
12 To feed that flame, we need to return to some very short prayers said over and over again. They express to God our deepest longing: "You love us; your forgiveness and your presence in us bring to birth the brightness of praise." Or else: "In you peace of heart." Or again: "Jesus, have compassion on me!"
13 Unchanging in its essence, prayer can take on a great diversity of expressions. Some pray in a great silence; others use many words. Saint Teresa of Avila wrote, "When I speak to the Lord, often I do not know what I am saying." Some people use just a few words to pray, always the same ones. When we pray, we try to express to God what is most personal. Sometimes, an inspiration or an intuition wells up from the depths of our being. But there is no need to worry if no words arise. "When our lips are closed and our soul is open before God, our heart speaks to God" (Saint Augustine). To support our personal prayer, there is nothing that leads to a communion with God more than praying in the company of one or several other persons, with the beauty of singing. A joy inspired by the Gospel finds in such a prayer one of its most powerful expressions.
14 When the Gospel's joy disappears, human beings do not feel at home anywhere. No matter where they are, they think they would be happier somewhere else. The "spirit of praise," grateful hearts, require an inner decision constantly renewed: "Clothe yourself in joy... Cleanse your heart of harmful sadness and you will live for God" (Hermas, second century). And our joyful hearts make life beautiful for those around us.
15 One of the first brothers in our community has constantly said with simplicity, "I rejoice in every instant that I live." Like every human being, he has known trials. How can he rejoice in every instant? He knows what it means to remain faithful in a vocation as the years pass. He knows how to be attentive to what is essential and to return to it at every moment. That is what supports a joy. To go forward in a vocation, he also knows how important it it to have a short inner prayer that is often repeated. For many years he has been praying with these words: "Jesus, my joy, my hope and my life."
16 See Philippians 4,6-7. Christ too surrendered himself to God. When he died on the cross, he prayed: "Into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23,46), in other words, "I entrust my entire life to you."
17 See Ephesians 5,8. The powerful of the earth are certainly not the ones who determine changes in the world. Could the Virgin Mary have thought that her life would be essential for the future of the human family? Like her, so many of the humble of the earth prepare ways of peaceful communion. Their mere presence can neutralize certain determinisms of brutality and hatred.
18 When children see members of their family quarrel or separate, their hearts experience a tearing apart that can mark them for life. If young people were to go each week to spend time with some of these children... They could listen to them, share with them, bring them to a prayer service. There are many older persons, too, who think they have accomplished nothing and have to end their lives in isolation. And yet some elderly persons, filled with selflessness, are indispensable for the younger generations. They listen, and in this way they unburden them of a load of worries. Spiritual mothers and fathers, according to the Gospel, are given to us a hundredfold. Young people can do a lot for them, visiting them, helping them to decorate or repair their homes...
19 Some people are looking for practical suggestions to be in solidarity particularly with those who are out of work. A father of a family wrote: "To meet with the unemployed, to search for ways of expressing a reciprocity, sharing a little of oneself, taking the time to listen, to help them with paperwork, to support them as they look for a job and to encourage them when they meet with little success. And also to enable others to do something they are capable of and that will keep their self-confidence alive. To find simple means to make such a friendship possible..."
20 Jeremiah 29,11. When we are confronted with human misfortune, physical violence or moral torture, a question arises: if God is love, where does evil come from? No one can explain the why of evil. But Christ enters into solidarity with the incomprehensible suffering of the innocent. Did he not come to earth so that every human being might know that he or she is loved? And he enables us to take on responsibilities to reduce human suffering. "When someone is tempted, they should not say: my temptation comes from God. God cannot be tempted by evil and he does not tempt anyone" (James 1,13).
21 As regards Europe, they know that every nation needs to live in complementarity with the others. Who could be indifferent to the birth of a Europe that is unified, pacified, reconciled? And far from turning inward upon herself, Europe will always discover part of her particular genius in solidarity with other continents. The different parts of the world need one another, too. When they are left to themselves, each of them sees certain fundamental balances vanish.
22 See John 3,1-8.
23 When timidity keeps us from asking for forgiveness, why not dare to make a simple gesture that needs no words: extend your hand so that the other person can make in it the sign of forgiveness, the sign of the cross?
24 Communicating Christ never means trying to impose oneself. The Gospel is not a vice that clamps down upon another person's conscience and entraps them. A believer from Bangladesh, speaking about those around him who do not know Christ, said, "When you are near a fire, you are warmed. When the fire of God's love is in us, does it not shine on those who are close to us, even if we do not realize it?"
25 According to Saint Augustine, fourth century.
Notes for "A Call to the Younger Generation"
1 In the simplicity of faith, we can realize that the Risen Christ is above all communion... He did not come to earth to start a new religion; he did not criticize existing religions. He came to offer to everyone this mystery of a communion of love in his Body, his Church.
2 More than we realize, today a great number of young people pray; they long for a communion with Christ and with the Holy Spirit. But a question remains: "Why, in vast regions of the world, are so many of the young absent from prayer in the churches?"
3 In the midst of the twentieth century there appeared a man named John, born in a humble peasant family in the North of Italy. With regard to the reconciliation of Christians, that old man, John XXIII, said some words that are among the most crystal-clear imaginable: "We will not try to find out who was wrong and who was right; we will only say: let us be reconciled!" At the very same time, in Constantinople there was another holy witness to Christ, Patriarch Athenagoras. At the end of a visit we paid to him, as we were taking our leave, the patriarch remained standing in the doorway and, making the gesture of raising the Eucharistic chalice, spoke these final words: "The cup and the breaking of the bread, there is no other solution, remember!"