Papal Address to Confirmandi
"Learn to Converse With the Lord"
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MILAN, June 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at the meeting with youth receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at the VII World Meeting of Families.
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Dear young men and women,
It is a great joy for me to be able to meet you during my visit to this city of yours. In this famous soccer stadium today you are the protagonists! I greet your archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. I also thank Fr. Samuele Marelli. I greet your friend who welcomed me on your behalf. I am happy to greet the episcopal vicars who, in the name of the archbishop, administered or will confirm you. A special thank you to the Foundation of Milanese Oratories, who organized this meeting, to your priests, to all the catechists, the educators, the sponsors and to those in the individual parish communities were your companions on the way and who to you bore witness to the faith in Jesus Christ dead, risen, and alive.
You, dear young people, are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, or you have already received it a short time ago. I know that you have completed a significant course of formation, this year called “The Spirit Show.” Helped by this journey, with different stages, you have learned to recognize the marvelous things that the Holy Spirit has done and is doing in your lives and in all those who say “yes” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have discovered the great value of Baptism, the first Sacrament, the entryway into the Christian life. You received it thanks to your parents, who, together with your godparents, professed the Creed in your name and committed themselves to educate you in the faith. This was for you, as for me – many years ago! – an incredible grace. From that moment, reborn in the water of the Spirit, you became members of the family of the children of God, you became Christians, members of the Church.
Now you have grown, and you yourselves can pronounce your personal “yes” to God, a free and conscious “yes.” The Sacrament of Confirmation ratifies Baptism and pours the Holy Spirit out upon you in abundance. You yourselves now, full of gratitude, have the ability to welcome his great gifts that help you, in the journey of life, to become faithful and courageous witnesses of Jesus. The Spirit’s gifts are wondrous realities that allow you to form yourselves as Christians, to live the Gospel and to be active members of the community. I would like briefly to recall these gifts of which the prophet Isaiah and Jesus speak to us:
- the first gift is wisdom, through which you discover how good and great the Lord is and, as the word “wisdom” itself says, gives much flavor (sapore) to your life because, as Jesus said, you are “the salt of the earth”;
- then the gift of understanding, which helps you to understand the depths of the Word of God and the truths of the faith;
- then the gift of counsel, which will guide you to the discovery of the plan that God has for your life, the life of each one of you;
- the gift of courage, to defeat the temptations of evil and to always do the good, even when it means sacrifice;
- then there comes the gift of knowledge, not technical knowledge, as is taught at universities, but knowledge in the deeper sense that teaches us to find the signs, the traces of God in creation, to understand how God speaks to us in every age and speaks to me, and to animate daily work with the Gospel; to understand that there is a profundity to [daily life] and to understand this profundity and thus to give flavor (sapore) to work, even hard work;
- another gift is piety, which keeps the flame of love for our Father in heaven alive in such a way that we can pray to him every day with the confidence and tenderness of children who are much loved; it helps us not to forget the fundamental reality of the world and my life: that God exists and God knows me and awaits my answer to his plan;
- and finally the 7th gift is the fear of God – we spoke earlier of fear; to fear God in this sense does mean to be frightened of him, but to feel a deep respect for him, respect for his will, which is the true plan for my life and is the way through which personal and community life becomes good; and today, with all of the crises in the world, we see how important it is that everyone respect this will of God, which is written into our hearts and by which we must live; and thus this fear of God is the desire to do good, to do truth, to do the will of God.
Dear young people, the whole of Christian life is a journey, it is like climbing a path that leads up a mountain – and so it is not always easy, but climbing a mountain is something beautiful – together with Jesus; with these precious gifts your friendship with him will become still more real and intimate. This friendship is continually nourished with the Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we receive his Body and Blood. In this regard I invite you always to participate in Sunday Mass with joy and fidelity. At Mass the whole community gathers together to pray, to listen to the Word of God and to take part in the eucharistic sacrifice. Participate also in the Sacrament of Penance, Confession: it is a meeting with Jesus who forgives our sins and helps us to do the good; receiving this gift, beginning again, is a great gift in life, knowing that I am free, that I can start over, that all is forgiven. Do not forget also daily personal prayer. Learn to converse with the Lord, confide in him, tell him your joys and worries, and ask him for light and help on along your way.
Dear friends, you are fortunate to have oratories in your parishes, it is a great gift in the Diocese of Milan. The oratory, as the word itself indicates, is a place where we pray, but also where we come together in the joy of faith, where there is catechesis, games, activities of service and other types, which help us always to grow in our knowledge and in our following of the Lord! These 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit grow precisely in this community where life is lived in truth, in God. In your families, be obedient to your parents, listen to the instructions they give you to grow up like Jesus “in wisdom, age and grace before God and men” (Luke 2:51-52). Finally, do not be lazy, but hard working young people, especially in your studies, in view of the future: it is your daily duty and a great opportunity that you have to grow and to prepare the future. Be available and generous to others, overcoming temptations to put yourselves at the center because egoism is the enemy of true joy. If you now taste the beauty of being part of Jesus’ community, you can also make your own contribution to making it grow and inviting others to be a part of it. Let me tell you also that every day the Lord is calling you to great things, even here today. Be open to what he suggests and if he calls you to follow him on the path of the priesthood or the consecrated life, do not say no to him! It would be misguided laziness. Jesus will fill your hear for the rest of your life!
Dear young men and women, I say this to you in all seriousness: have high ideals: everyone can reach the heights, not just a few! Be saints! But is it possible to be saints at your age? Certainly! St. Ambrose, the great saint of your city, says this too in one of his works: “Every age is ripe for Christ” (“De virginitate,” 40). And above all this is demonstrated by the witness of many saints who are your own age, like Domenico Savio or Maria Goretti. Sanctity is the normal path for Christians: it is not only for a few chosen ones, but is open to all. Naturally, [this can be done] with the light and the power of the Holy Spirit – which we will not lack if we raise up our hands and open our heart! – and with the help of Our Mother. Who is Our Mother? It is the Mother of Jesus, Mary. Jesus entrusted all of us to her before he died ont he cross. May the Virgin Mary then always safeguard the beauty of your “yes” to Jesus, her Son, the great and faithful Friend of your life. So be it!
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]