Pope: Holy Spirit Is Silent Guide Toward Unity

Urges Youth to Believe in the Power of the Spirit

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SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Although it's not easy to understand the role of the Holy Spirit in one's life, Benedict XVI says one can be certain that the Spirit is the silent and hidden guide toward unity and reconciliation.

The Pope said this at the World Youth Day vigil Saturday night at the Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. Giovanni Maria Vian, director de L'Osservatore Romano, said the discourse of the Holy Father was "one of the most beautiful texts of his pontificate."

The Pontiff said the words of Christ taken as the theme of World Youth Day 2008 -- "You Will Receive Power When the Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You and You Will be My Witnesses” -- "were the very last words which Jesus spoke before his Ascension into heaven."

"How the Apostles felt upon hearing them, we can only imagine," said Benedict XVI. "But we do know that their deep love for Jesus, and their trust in his word, prompted them to gather and to wait; to wait not aimlessly, but together, united in prayer, with the women and Mary in the Upper Room.

"Tonight, we do the same. Gathered before our much-traveled cross and the icon of Mary, and under the magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross, we pray."

The Pontiff said that he was praying for the youth of the world: "Accept into your hearts and minds the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit! Recognize and believe in the power of the Spirit in your lives!"

Silent and unseen

The Pope said it's not easy to "understand the person of the Holy Spirit and his vivifying presence in our lives."

"Indeed," he said, "the variety of images found in Scripture referring to the Spirit -- wind, fire, breath -- indicate our struggle to articulate an understanding of him.

"Yet we do know that it is the Holy Spirit who, though silent and unseen, gives direction and definition to our witness to Jesus Christ."

The world, Benedict XVI said, is "in many ways is fragile." He said it is "weakened by wounds which run particularly deep when social relations break apart, or when the human spirit is all but crushed through the exploitation and abuse of persons."

He continued: "Society today is being fragmented by a way of thinking that is inherently shortsighted, because it disregards the full horizon of truth -- the truth about God and about us.

"By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles which enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony."

The answer to this fragmentation is unity, but the Pope reminded the pilgrims that "unity and reconciliation cannot be achieved through our efforts alone. [...] Only in God and his Church can we find the unity we seek."

Temptation

"It is the Spirit, in fact, who guides the Church in the way of all truth and unifies her in communion and in the works of ministry," the Holy Father said. "Unfortunately, the temptation to 'go it alone' persists.

"Some today portray their local community as somehow separate from the so-called institutional Church, by speaking of the former as flexible and open to the Spirit and the latter as rigid and devoid of the Spirit."

"Be watchful! Listen," he urged. "Through the dissonance and division of our world, can you hear the concordant voice of humanity? From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity."

The Pontiff reminded the young pilgrims that it is the Holy Spirit "who satisfies that essential human yearning to be one, to be immersed in communion, to be built up, to be led to truth."

"This is the Spirit’s role," he continued, "to bring Christ’s work to fulfillment. Enriched with the Spirit’s gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!"

Gratitude

"Tonight, gathered under the beauty of the night sky, our hearts and minds are filled with gratitude to God for the great gift of our Trinitarian faith," said Benedict XVI. "We recall our parents and grandparents who walked alongside us when we, as children, were taking our first steps in our pilgrim journey of faith.

"Now many years later, you have gathered as young adults with the Successor of Peter. I am filled with deep joy to be with you. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit: He is the artisan of God’s works. Let his gifts shape you!"

He urged the young pilgrims to "exercise the Spirit’s gifts amidst the ups and downs of your daily life. Let your faith mature through your studies, work, sport, music and art.

"Let it be sustained by prayer and nurtured by the sacraments, and thus be a source of inspiration and help to those around you," continued the Pope. "In the end, life is not about accumulation. It is much more than success.

"To be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God’s love. In accepting the power of the Holy Spirit you too can transform your families, communities and nations. Set free the gifts! Let wisdom, courage, awe and reverence be the marks of greatness!"

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On the Net:

Full text of the Pope's address: www.zenit.org/article-23277?l=english