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教宗本笃十六世2008年第二十三届世界青年节文告《当圣神降临于你们身上时,你们将充满圣神的德能,为我作证人。宗1:8》

发表时间:11-02-21 来自: 作者:教宗本笃十六世  点击次数:4425

 

亲爱的青年朋友们!
 
一、第二十三届世界青年日
我不会忘记2005年8月我们在科隆所一同度过的美好时光。这个宣告信仰与热忱的盛会,实在让人难以忘怀,它深深烙印在我的心上与灵内。在活动的尾声,我曾与你们相约2008年在雪梨再次团聚,也就是第二十三届世界青年日,而主题是「但当圣神降临于你们身上时,你们将充满圣神的德能,为我作证人」(宗徒大事录 一:8)。因此,为了前往雪梨,所要做的灵修准备的主题便是圣神与使命。在2006年,我们将重点放在圣神是真理之神;2007年,我们希望能够更深入地认识爱情之神。
在这迈向2008雪梨世青之际,我们进一步思索刚毅与见证之神,好让我们有勇气按照福音生活,并大胆地宣告福音。因此,你们每一位年轻人,在团体内,协同负责教育你们的人士都该一起省思这位救恩史的主要行动者,又称为天主圣神或耶稣基督的圣神。如此一来,你们就能达到这些了不起的目标:透过聆听圣经所揭示的天主圣言,认识圣神的真实模样;清楚意识到圣神在教会的生命历程中持续且活跃的临在,特别是透过基督徒入门三圣事,圣洗圣事、坚振圣事与感恩圣事,我们能觉察天主圣神是基督徒生活的「灵魂」,是那股不可或缺的生命气息;因此,也更加认识耶稣,使内在更有深度也更加喜乐,同时也能在这第三个千年开始之际好好实践福音精神。
在这篇文告中,我为各位规划了默想的题材,以便在这一年的准备期中好好探索。如此一来你们也可以看看自己对天主圣神的信德有多深,如果这信德丧失了,就再把它找回了,如果这信德衰弱了,就再加强它,细细品味这信德,是与圣父、圣子的共融,更是由天主圣神关键的作工。也不要忘了,教会,其实是整个人类本身,你们周遭的人,以及那些在未来将与你们相遇的人,对你们年轻人有很深的期待,因为在你们内有着圣父,耶稣基督的圣神的至大的恩宠。
二、圣经中天主圣神的恩许
让我们仔细聆听圣言中关于天主圣神的奥秘与作为,这将开放我们自己进入伟大又富启发性的见地,我在下面做了些归纳。
就在耶稣即将升天之际,祂这样对门徒们说:「看,我要把我父所恩许的,遣发到你们身上」(路24:49)。就在五旬节,他们与圣母玛利亚齐聚在晚餐厅的这天实现了。天主圣神倾注在这新生的教会上,满全了天主早就承诺的恩许,整部旧约就已预告与预备了这事。
事实上,圣经的开头便陈述天主的神就好像风「在水面上运行」(创1:2),又说天主向人的鼻孔吹了生命气息(创2:7),为人注入了生命。在原祖背命后,天主赐生命的神多次出现在人类的历史之中,召唤先知们劝化被选者回归天主,并忠信地奉行祂的旨意。在耳熟能详的厄则克耳先知的神视中,上主与祂的神,让以色列民重新活了过来,以「枯骨」做为象征(厄37:1-14)。岳厄尔先知也这样预言「我要倾注我的圣神」在所有人身上,没有人漏掉。圣言作者是这样写的「我要将我的神倾注在一切有血肉的人身上……在那些日子里,甚至在奴仆和婢女身上,我也要倾注我的神」(岳3:1-2)。
 
在「时期一满」(迦4:4),上主的天使向纳匝肋的童贞玛利亚报喜,天主圣神「至高者的能力」将临于她、庇荫她。那要诞生的圣者,将称为天主的儿子(路1:35)。 在依撒意亚先知书中,默西亚就是上主的神住在祂内的那位(依11:1-2;42:1)。 耶稣在祂的首次公开宣讲时,在纳匝肋的犹太会堂里用了这段先知书,惊动全场,祂说「上主的神临于我身上,因为衪给我傅了油,派遣我向贫穷人传报喜讯,向俘虏宣告释放,向盲者宣告复明,使受压迫者获得自由,宣布上主恩慈之年」(路4:18-19;依61:1-2)。面对在场所有的人,祂将所有先知的预言指向祂「你们刚才听过的这段圣经,今天应验了」(路4:21)。 同样的,就在祂将舍身在十字架上之前,祂好几次告诉祂的门徒们圣神的到来,「护慰者」的任务就是要为祂作证,帮助相信的人,教导他们、引导他们进入一切真理(若14:16-17,25-26;15:26;16:13)。
三、圣神降临,教会使命的起跑点
就在复活当天的傍晚,耶稣显现给祂的门徒「祂向他们嘘了一口气,说:『你们领受圣神罢』」(若20:22)! 就在五旬节当天,天主圣神以更大的力量临在宗徒们身上。我们在宗徒大事录中可以读到「忽然,从天上来了一阵响声,好像暴风刮来,充满了他们所在的全座房屋。有些散开好像火的舌头,停留在他们每人头上…」(宗2:2-3)。
天主圣神从内在更新了宗徒们,并以能力充满他们,赐予他们勇气走出去,大胆地宣告「基督死了,且复活了!」从各种恐惧中脱身,他们开始自信地公开说话(宗2:29;4:13;4:29,31)。 这些曾经胆颤的渔夫们已经成了福音勇敢的宣讲者,就连他们的敌人也无法理解这些「没有读过书的平常人」(宗4:13)为什么表现出如此的勇气与坚忍,以喜乐面对痛苦与迫害。没有什么能阻止他们,有些人想要他们闭嘴,他们这样回答:「我们不得不说我们所见所闻的事」(宗4:20)。这就是教会诞生的故事,从圣神降临的那天起,她就从未停止传扬天主的福音「直到地极」(宗1:8)。
四、圣神,教会的灵魂,共融的核心
如果我们要了解教会的使命,我们就必须回到那个门徒们聚集的晚餐厅 (路24:49),随同「母亲」玛利亚一起祈祷,等待那预许的圣神。新生教会的意像应该是每个基督徒团体不断仿俲的借镜,使徒工作与福传工作的丰收,不只是因为缜密「有效率」的安排计划,或牧民技巧,而是团体持续不断的祈祷(「在新世界中传福音」劝谕75)。再者,福传要有果效,团体就必须要团结,也就是说,必须要「一心一意」(宗4:32),他们也要随时准备好为圣神倾注于信者心中的爱与喜乐作证(宗2:42)。 天主之仆-先教宗若望保禄二世写过「甚至在活动之前,传教意谓见证,和照亮他人的一种生活方式」(「救主的使命」通谕26)。戴尔都良告诉我们在早期教会,异教徒便是因看见基督徒洋溢的爱情而改宗,「看,他们是多么彼此相爱啊」(护教书39 § 7)!
在结束这段对圣经中天主圣言的小小研究前,我邀请你们去细察天主圣神怎样地成为天主赐给人类的至尊贵礼物,为我们亦是天主之爱的极致见证,这份爱特别是指「选择生命」,这是天主对其受造物的旨意。在纳匝肋人耶稣身上和祂所付出赎价,战胜邪恶的光荣中,「选择生命」得以圆满实现。因此,我们绝不能忘记耶稣的福音,尤其为了天主圣神的缘故,福音不能被压缩成只是一段事实罢了,因为这可是要「向贫穷人传报喜讯,向俘虏宣告释放,向盲者宣告复明……」的。就在圣神降临这天,这使命更显得格外重要,这成了教会面对世界时的恩宠与任务,是她首要的使命。
我们是这份教会透过天主圣神作工的使命的果实,我们身上带着在耶稣基督内天父的爱,那就是圣神。千万不要忘记,天主圣神总记得每个人、每个祈祷,特别要透过你们年轻人,要在这世界上,扬起新五旬节的风、燃起新五旬节的火。
五、圣神「内在生命的导师」
我亲爱的年轻朋友们,在今天,圣神持续以大能在教会内作工,而且圣神的果实是丰盛的,足够我们准备好去领受这使万物更新的能力。因此,重要的是我们每个人都要认识圣神,与祂建立关系,并委顺自己由祂来带领。所以,问题就来了:对我来说,天主圣神是谁?没有错,对许多基督徒来说,圣神还是「未知」。这也就是为什么在准备这次世界青年日时,我要邀请你们以个人的幅度更深入的认识圣神。在信经里,我们这样宣示「我信圣神,祂是主及赋予生命者,由圣父圣子所共发(尼西亚信经)。是的,天主圣神,是爱之神、是圣父之神、是圣子之神,是使我们为圣的生命之源,「因为天主的爱,借着所赐与我们的圣神,已倾注在我们心中了」(罗5:5)。 虽然,这样对圣神的认识还不够;但我们一定要欢迎祂成为我们灵魂的向导,成为「内在生命的导师」,将天主圣三的奥秘介绍给我们,因为只有祂能将信德充满我们,帮助我们每一天活出信心,且日趋圆满。天主圣神催促我们走向他人,燃起我们心中的爱火,使我们成为天主爱的传教士。
我很清楚你们年轻人心中对耶稣有着很大的感谢与爱情,你们渴望认识祂,与祂对话,要知道这就是圣神临在我们内,祂在钉死后复活的真耶稣身上,坚守了我们,构成了我们,塑造了我们。我们该与圣神亲近,好让我们更亲近耶稣。
六、坚振圣事与感恩圣事
你们会问,那我们该怎样让圣神更新我们,该怎样在灵修生活中成长?答案你们是知道的:我们可以透过各种圣事啊!因为透过圣事,我们内产生信德,信德也得以坚强,特别是基督徒的入门圣事:「圣洗圣事、坚振圣事与感恩圣事,是互补且不可分割的」(天主教教理1285)。 这的确启迪我们基督徒生活的三件圣事,或许在许多基督徒的信仰生活中已被遗忘,他们把圣事当做是过去参与过的活动,在今天并不具任何特别的意义,这就好似失了养份的根。常常发现年轻人领受坚振圣事后就与信仰生活脱节了,更有年轻人根本没领受过这个圣事。但就是透过圣洗圣事、坚振圣事,以及持续地领受感恩圣事,天主圣神使我们成为天父的子女,耶稣的兄弟姐妹,祂教会的肢体,足以成为福音的真实见证人,能够细细品味信仰的喜乐。
因此,我邀请你们默想我所写的内容。在今日,我们格外需要重新认识坚振圣事,以及它在我们灵性成长中的重要地位。领受过圣洗圣事与坚振圣事的人,该记得他们已经成为「圣神的宫殿」,天主住在他们内。要时时意识到这点,而且要尽全力让这在你们内的宝贝结出神圣的果实。至于领受了圣洗,却尚未领受坚振圣事的人,准备领受吧,并且要了解透过这个方式,你们才能成为「完整」的基督徒,因为坚振圣事满全了圣洗圣事的恩宠(天主教教理1302-1304)。
坚振圣事带给我们特别的力量,用我们整个生命见证天主、光荣天主(罗12:1)。坚振圣事帮助我们在亲密中意识到我们属于教会-「基督的身体」,在祂内我们是活生生的肢体,彼此团结(格前12:12-25)。 每个受过圣洗的个人,委顺在天主圣神的带领下,都能带上他/她自己的奉献来建立教会,因为能力来自于圣神,「圣神显示在每人身上虽不同,但全是为人的好处」(格前12:7)。当圣神作工时,祂为灵魂带来的果实是「仁爱、喜乐、平安、忍耐、良善、温和、忠信、柔和、节制」(迦5:22)。为那些还没有领受坚振圣事的人,我再次特别诚挚地邀请你们做好准备来领受祂,并且寻求神父的协助。这是天主特别为你准备的恩宠时刻,千万别错过这个好机会!
我想再多谈谈感恩圣事。要在基督徒的生命中有所成长,我们就应该要接受基督圣体、圣血的滋养。事实上,我们接受圣洗、接受坚振,就是为了感恩圣事的缘故(天主教教理1322; 「爱德的圣事」劝谕17)。感恩圣事是教会生活的「根源与高峰」,是「永久的圣神降临」,因为每当我们参与弥撒,我们便领受圣神,祂更深刻地将我们与基督结合,并将我们转化为祂。  
我亲爱的年轻朋友,如果你们常常参与感恩圣祭,如果你们花些时间朝拜基督圣体,圣爱之源,也就是感恩圣祭,你们将获得充满喜乐的决志,愿意奉献生命来跟随福音。同时,你们也经验到无论何时我们力有未逮,就是圣神要转化我们,用祂的力量充满我们,使我们成为满怀复活基督的使命热忱的见证人。
七、使命的需要与迫切
许多年轻人对生活感到恐惧,对未来有许多疑问。他们心急地问:我们怎么能够适应一个不正义横行且受苦的世界?我们该怎样回应日益严重的自私与暴力?生命的意义又是为何?该怎样做,才能将圣神的果实「仁爱、喜乐、平安、忍耐、良善、温和、忠信、柔和、节制」散播在这个伤痕累累又脆弱的世界,有着为数众多的年轻人的世界?这位在第一次创造中,特别是第二次创造或救赎计划中赐生命的圣神,在怎样的条件下才能够成为人类的新灵魂?我们千万不要忘记天主的恩宠越多,其中又以耶稣基督的圣神为最大的恩宠,那世界就更需要去领受这恩宠,因此,教会的使命就是要更热切地展现可信的见证。你们年轻人透过世界青年日,就是表达了你们愿意积极参与这份使命的渴望。
所以,我亲爱的年轻朋友们,在这里我要提醒你们去默想几个关键的真理。
我再一次强调:唯有基督才能满足每个人心中那些最私密的渴望。也唯有基督才能使人类更具人性,并带领人类成为圣的。透过祂的圣神,祂用圣爱一点一滴地浇灌我们,让我们能够爱我们的近人,准备好去服事。天主圣神光照我们,揭示了死而复活的耶稣,并告诉我们如何更肖似祂,如此一来,我们就能成为「来自于基督之爱的表达和工具」(「天主是爱」通谕33)。
那些委顺自己于圣神领导的人,明白委身于福音的事工不是一个额外的选项,而是意识到那份要把好消息传播给人的急迫。我们还是不能不提醒我们自己,我们可以成为基督的见证,但唯有我们先委顺自己接受圣神的带领,因为「圣神是福传的主要行动者」(「在新世界传福音」劝谕75) 以及「使命的主要行动者」(「救主的使命」通谕 21)。
我亲爱的年轻朋友们,诚如可敬的教宗保禄六世和教宗若望保禄二世,在很多场合说过的一样,比起过去,今日更迫切需要福音的宣扬与信仰的见证(「救主的使命」通谕 1)。有些人认为介绍信仰的珍贵给那些尚未认识的人分享,就像是反对他们一样,但事情却不是这样,介绍基督并不是强迫接受基督(「在新世界传福音」劝谕80)。
二千年前,十二位门徒奉献了生命就是为了使基督为人所知、为人所爱。几世纪过去了,福音继续透过那些受到同样的使命热忱感召的男男女女传播出去。在今日,依然需要基督的门徒,毫无保留地奉献时间与精力来为福音服务,依然需要愿意接受天主在他们心内燃起热火,并慷慨答复天主急切的召叫的年轻人,就像过去与现代的许多青年真福与圣人一般。
我更确信的是,耶稣基督之神今天也要邀请你们,将福音带给所有同龄的朋友。要大人们用不难了解且又让人心服口服的方式接近年轻人,这实在不太容易,所以这也是个记号,天主圣神催促你们年轻人,来!把这个任务接下来啊!你们很清楚同辈年轻人的理想抱负、语言、伤痛、期待,以及他们对美善的渴望,这能开启年轻人情感、工作、教育、期望和痛苦…等的宽阔世界。你们每个人都要鼓起勇气,承诺圣神,说你们要用你们觉得最棒的方式带一位年轻人到耶稣基督面前,要懂得「若有人询问你们心中所怀希望的理由,你们要时常准备答复,且要以温和、以敬畏之心答复…」(伯多禄前书 3:15)。
为了达成这个目标,我亲爱的年轻朋友们,你们一定要成为圣的,你们一定要成为传播福音者,因为我们绝不可能将圣善与福音使命分开(「救主的使命」90)。千万别害怕当个像圣方济‧萨威一样圣善的传教士,他走遍整个远东地区传扬福音,直到用尽最后一分力气,不然看看耶稣圣婴小德兰,虽然她一辈子都没有离开过加尔默罗的修院,但她也是个传教士。这二位可都是「传教主保」。准备好,把你们的生命献上,一起加入以耶稣基督的真理照亮这世界的阵线吧!我们的响应是用爱来代替仇恨与对生命的漠视,将复活基督的希望传播到世界的每个角落。
八、呼求「新五旬节」临到世界
我亲爱的年轻朋友们,希望2008年的7月,我能在雪梨看到你们。这是天主所安排的好机会,让你们体会天主圣神满盈的能力。成群结队的来吧!做为希望的记号!也表现你们对殷勤接待你们的澳洲教会的支持与感谢。因为这个国家的青年将要接待你们,在这许多方面已世俗化的社会里,真是个千载难逢的好机会,能够宣扬福音的美好与喜乐。澳洲,整个大洋洲,都需要重新找回基督徒的根。在「大洋洲主教会议后宗座劝谕」中,先教宗若望保禄二世写道「借着天主圣神的能力,大洋洲的教会正为今日渴望基督的人准备崭新的福传工作…这新的福传事工是大洋洲教会的首要任务」(no.18)。
在这前往第二十三届世界青年日的最后准备阶段中,我邀请你们奉献时间在祈祷上、在灵修陶成上,如此一来,在雪梨,你们就能更新当年在圣洗圣事、坚振圣事中所作的许诺了。我们一同呼求圣神,坚定祈求天主在这第三个千年里,为教会与整个人类赐下新五旬节的恩宠。
愿同在晚餐厅内的圣母玛利亚、诸位宗徒,陪伴你们渡过这段准备的日子,也为所有的青年基督徒祈求天主圣神的再次倾注,燃起他们的心火。要记得:教会对你们有信心!身为牧者,我们特别恳切为你们祈祷,希望你们能爱他人,并引领他人更深地爱耶稣,你们也能更加忠信地跟随祂。我满怀着关爱降福你们。
 
2007年7月20日 在洛兰扎戈
 
教宗本笃十六世
 
 
 
 
以下为文告英文版:
 
My dear young friends!
 
1. The XXIII World Youth Day
I always remember with great joy the various occasions we spent together in Cologne in August 2005. At the end of that unforgettable manifestation of faith and enthusiasm that remains engraved on my spirit and on my heart, I made an appointment with you for the next gathering that will be held in Sydney in 2008. This will be the XXIII World Youth Day and the theme will be: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). The underlying theme of the spiritual preparation for our meeting in Sydney is the Holy Spirit and mission. In 2006 we focussed our attention on the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth. Now in 2007 we are seeking a deeper understanding of the Spirit of Love. We will continue our journey towards World Youth Day 2008 by reflecting on the Spirit of Fortitude and Witness that gives us the courage to live according to the Gospel and to proclaim it boldly. Therefore it is very important that each one of you young people - in your communities, and together with those responsible for your education - should be able to reflect on this Principal Agent of salvation history, namely the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Jesus. In this way you will be able to achieve the following lofty goals: to recognize the Spirit’s true identity, principally by listening to the Word of God in the Revelation of the Bible; to become clearly aware of his continuous, active presence in the life of the Church, especially as you rediscover that the Holy Spirit is the “soul”, the vital breath of Christian life itself, through the sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist; to grow thereby in an understanding of Jesus that becomes ever deeper and more joyful and, at the same time, to put the Gospel into practice at the dawn of the third millennium. In this message I gladly offer you an outline for meditation that you can explore during this year of preparation. In this way you can test the quality of your faith in the Holy Spirit, rediscover it if it is lost, strengthen it if it has become weak, savour it as fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, brought about by the indispensable working of the Holy Spirit. Never forget that the Church, in fact humanity itself, all the people around you now and those who await you in the future, expect much from you young people, because you have within you the supreme gift of the Father, the Spirit of Jesus.
2. The promise of the Holy Spirit in the Bible
Attentive listening to the Word of God concerning the mystery and action of the Holy Spirit opens us up to great and inspiring insights that I shall summarize in the following points.
Shortly before his Ascension, Jesus said to his disciples: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you” (Lk 24:49). This took place on the day of Pentecost when they were together in prayer in the Upper Room with the Virgin Mary. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the nascent Church was the fulfilment of a promise made much earlier by God, announced and prepared throughout the Old Testament.
In fact, right from its opening pages, the Bible presents the spirit of God as the wind that “was moving over the face of the waters” (cf. Gen 1:2). It says that God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life (cf. Gen 2:7), thereby infusing him with life itself. After original sin, the life-giving spirit of God is seen several times in the history of humankind, calling forth prophets to exhort the chosen people to return to God and to observe his commandments faithfully. In the well-known vision of the prophet Ezekiel, God, with his spirit, restores to life the people of Israel, represented by the “dry bones” (cf. 37:1-14). Joel prophesied an “outpouring of the spirit” over all the people, excluding no one. The sacred author wrote: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh ... Even upon the menservants and maidservants, in those days, I will pour out my spirit” (3:1-2).
In “the fullness of time” (cf. Gal 4:4), the angel of the Lord announced to the Virgin of Nazareth that the Holy Spirit, “the power of the Most High”, would come upon her and overshadow her. The child to be born would be holy and would be called Son of God (cf. Lk 1:35). In the words of the prophet Isaiah, the Messiah would be the one on whom the Spirit of the Lord would rest (cf. 11:1-2; 42:1). This is the prophecy that Jesus took up again at the start of his public ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth. To the amazement of those present, he said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour” (Lk 4:18-19; cf. Is 61:1-2). Addressing those present, he referred those prophetic words to himself by saying: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). Again, before his death on the Cross, he would tell his disciples several times about the coming of the Holy Spirit, the “Counselor” whose mission would be to bear witness to him and to assist believers by teaching them and guiding them to the fullness of Truth (cf. Jn 14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26; 16:13).
3. Pentecost, the point of departure for the Church’s mission
On the evening of the day of resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn 20:22). With even greater power the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. We read in the Acts of the Apostles: “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them” (2:2-3).
The Holy Spirit renewed the Apostles from within, filling them with a power that would give them courage to go out and boldly proclaim that “Christ has died and is risen!” Freed from all fear, they began to speak openly with self-confidence (cf. Acts 2:29; 4:13; 4:29,31). These frightened fishermen had become courageous heralds of the Gospel. Even their enemies could not understand how “uneducated and ordinary men” (cf. Acts 4:13) could show such courage and endure difficulties, suffering and persecution with joy. Nothing could stop them. To those who tried to silence them they replied: “We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). This is how the Church was born, and from the day of Pentecost she has not ceased to spread the Good News “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
4. The Holy Spirit, soul of the Church and principle of communion
If we are to understand the mission of the Church, we must go back to the Upper Room where the disciples remained together (cf. Lk 24:49), praying with Mary, the “Mother”, awaiting the Spirit that had been promised. This icon of the nascent Church should be a constant source of inspiration for every Christian community. Apostolic and missionary fruitfulness is not principally due to programmes and pastoral methods that are cleverly drawn up and “efficient”, but is the result of the community’s constant prayer (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 75). Moreover, for the mission to be effective, communities must be united, that is, they must be “of one heart and soul” (cf. Acts 4:32), and they must be ready to witness to the love and joy that the Holy Spirit instils in the hearts of the faithful (cf. Acts 2:42). The Servant of God John Paul II wrote that, even prior to action, the Church’s mission is to witness and to live in a way that shines out to others (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 26). Tertullian tells us that this is what happened in the early days of Christianity when pagans were converted on seeing the love that reigned among Christians: “See how they love one another” (cf. Apology, 39 § 7).
To conclude this brief survey of the Word of God in the Bible, I invite you to observe how the Holy Spirit is the highest gift of God to humankind, and therefore the supreme testimony of his love for us, a love that is specifically expressed as the “yes to life” that God wills for each of his creatures. This “yes to life” finds its fullness in Jesus of Nazareth and in his victory over evil by means of the redemption. In this regard, let us never forget that the Gospel of Jesus, precisely because of the Spirit, cannot be reduced to a mere statement of fact, for it is intended to be “good news for the poor, release for captives, sight for the blind ...”. With what great vitality this was seen on the day of Pentecost, as it became the grace and the task of the Church towards the world, her primary mission!
We are the fruits of this mission of the Church through the working of the Holy Spirit. We carry within us the seal of the Father’s love in Jesus Christ which is the Holy Spirit. Let us never forget this, because the Spirit of the Lord always remembers every individual, and wishes, particularly through you young people, to stir up the wind and fire of a new Pentecost in the world.
5. The Holy Spirit as “Teacher of the interior life”
My dear young friends, the Holy Spirit continues today to act with power in the Church, and the fruits of the Spirit are abundant in the measure in which we are ready to open up to this power that makes all things new. For this reason it is important that each one of us know the Spirit, establish a relationship with Him and allow ourselves to be guided by Him. However, at this point a question naturally arises: who is the Holy Spirit for me? It is a fact that for many Christians He is still the “great unknown”. This is why, as we prepare for the next World Youth Day, I wanted to invite you to come to know the Holy Spirit more deeply at a personal level. In our profession of faith we proclaim: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son” (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed). Yes, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the love of the Father and of the Son, is the Source of life that makes us holy, “because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). Nevertheless, it is not enough to know the Spirit; we must welcome Him as the guide of our souls, as the “Teacher of the interior life” who introduces us to the Mystery of the Trinity, because He alone can open us up to faith and allow us to live it each day to the full. The Spirit impels us forward towards others, enkindles in us the fire of love, makes us missionaries of God’s charity.
I know very well that you young people hold in your hearts great appreciation and love for Jesus, and that you desire to meet Him and speak with Him. Indeed, remember that it is precisely the presence of the Spirit within us that confirms, constitutes and builds our person on the very Person of Jesus crucified and risen. So let us become familiar with the Holy Spirit in order to be familiar with Jesus.
6. The Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist
You might ask, how can we allow ourselves to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and to grow in our spiritual lives? The answer, as you know, is this: we can do so by means of the Sacraments, because faith is born and is strengthened within us through the Sacraments, particularly those of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, which are complementary and inseparable (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1285). This truth concerning the three Sacraments that initiate our lives as Christians is perhaps neglected in the faith life of many Christians. They view them as events that took place in the past and have no real significance for today, like roots that lack life-giving nourishment. It happens that many young people distance themselves from their life of faith after they have received Confirmation. There are also young people who have not even received this sacrament. Yet it is through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and then, in an ongoing way, the Eucharist, that the Holy Spirit makes us children of the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, capable of a true witness to the Gospel, and able to savour the joy of faith.
I therefore invite you to reflect on what I am writing to you. Nowadays it is particularly necessary to rediscover the sacrament of Confirmation and its important place in our spiritual growth. Those who have received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation should remember that they have become “temples of the Spirit”: God lives within them. Always be aware of this and strive to allow the treasure within you to bring forth fruits of holiness. Those who are baptized but have not yet received the sacrament of Confirmation, prepare to receive it knowing that in this way you will become “complete” Christians, since Confirmation perfects baptismal grace (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1302-1304).
Confirmation gives us special strength to witness to and glorify God with our whole lives (cf. Rom 12:1). It makes us intimately aware of our belonging to the Church, the “Body of Christ”, of which we are all living members, in solidarity with one another (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-25). By allowing themselves to be guided by the Spirit, each baptized person can bring his or her own contribution to the building up of the Church because of the charisms given by the Spirit, for “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). When the Spirit acts, he brings his fruits to the soul, namely “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22). To those of you who have not yet received the sacrament of Confirmation, I extend a cordial invitation to prepare to receive it, and to seek help from your priests. It is a special occasion of grace that the Lord is offering you. Do not miss this opportunity!
I would like to add a word about the Eucharist. In order to grow in our Christian life, we need to be nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ. In fact, we are baptized and confirmed with a view to the Eucharist (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1322; Sacramentum Caritatis, 17). “Source and summit” of the Church’s life, the Eucharist is a “perpetual Pentecost” since every time we celebrate Mass we receive the Holy Spirit who unites us more deeply with Christ and transforms us into Him. My dear young friends, if you take part frequently in the eucharistic celebration, if you dedicate some of your time to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Source of love which is the Eucharist, you will acquire that joyful determination to dedicate your lives to following the Gospel. At the same time it will be your experience that whenever our strength is not enough, it is the Holy Spirit who transforms us, filling us with his strength and making us witnesses suffused by the missionary fervour of the risen Christ.
7. The need and urgency of mission
Many young people view their lives with apprehension and raise many questions about their future. They anxiously ask: How can we fit into a world marked by so many grave injustices and so much suffering? How should we react to the selfishness and violence that sometimes seem to prevail? How can we give full meaning to life? How can we help to bring it about that the fruits of the Spirit mentioned above, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (no. 6), can fill this scarred and fragile world, the world of young people most of all? On what conditions can the life-giving Spirit of the first creation and particularly of the second creation or redemption become the new soul of humanity? Let us not forget that the greater the gift of God - and the gift of the Spirit of Jesus is the greatest of all – so much the greater is the world’s need to receive it and therefore the greater and the more exciting is the Church’s mission to bear credible witness to it. You young people, through World Youth Day, are in a way manifesting your desire to participate in this mission. In this regard, my dear young friends, I want to remind you here of some key truths on which to meditate. Once again I repeat that only Christ can fulfil the most intimate aspirations that are in the heart of each person. Only Christ can humanize humanity and lead it to its “divinization”. Through the power of his Spirit he instils divine charity within us, and this makes us capable of loving our neighbour and ready to be of service. The Holy Spirit enlightens us, revealing Christ crucified and risen, and shows us how to become more like Him so that we can be “the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ” (Deus Caritas Est, 33). Those who allow themselves to be led by the Spirit understand that placing oneself at the service of the Gospel is not an optional extra, because they are aware of the urgency of transmitting this Good News to others. Nevertheless, we need to be reminded again that we can be witnesses of Christ only if we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit who is “the principal agent of evangelization” (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 75) and “the principal agent of mission” (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 21). My dear young friends, as my venerable predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II said on several occasions, to proclaim the Gospel and bear witness to the faith is more necessary than ever today (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 1). There are those who think that to present the precious treasure of faith to people who do not share it means being intolerant towards them, but this is not the case, because to present Christ is not to impose Him (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80). Moreover, two thousand years ago twelve Apostles gave their lives to make Christ known and loved. Throughout the centuries since then, the Gospel has continued to spread by means of men and women inspired by that same missionary fervour. Today too there is a need for disciples of Christ who give unstintingly of their time and energy to serve the Gospel. There is a need for young people who will allow God’s love to burn within them and who will respond generously to his urgent call, just as many young blesseds and saints did in the past and also in more recent times. In particular, I assure you that the Spirit of Jesus today is inviting you young people to be bearers of the good news of Jesus to your contemporaries. The difficulty that adults undoubtedly find in approaching the sphere of youth in a comprehensible and convincing way could be a sign with which the Spirit is urging you young people to take this task upon yourselves. You know the ideals, the language, and also the wounds, the expectations, and at the same time the desire for goodness felt by your contemporaries. This opens up the vast world of young people’s emotions, work, education, expectations, and suffering ... Each one of you must have the courage to promise the Holy Spirit that you will bring one young person to Jesus Christ in the way you consider best, knowing how to “give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but [to] do it with gentleness and reverence” (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).
In order to achieve this goal, my dear friends, you must be holy and you must be missionaries since we can never separate holiness from mission (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 90). Do not be afraid to become holy missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier who travelled through the Far East proclaiming the Good News until every ounce of his strength was used up, or like Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus who was a missionary even though she never left the Carmelite convent. Both of these are “Patrons of the Missions”. Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth.
8. Invoking a “new Pentecost” upon the world
My dear young friends, I hope to see very many of you in Sydney in July 2008. It will be a providential opportunity to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power. Come in great numbers in order to be a sign of hope and to give appreciative support to the Church community in Australia that is preparing to welcome you. For the young people of the country that will host you, it will be an exceptional opportunity to proclaim the beauty and joy of the Gospel to a society that is secularized in so many ways. Australia, like all of Oceania, needs to rediscover its Christian roots. In the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church in Oceania is preparing for a new evangelization of peoples who today are hungering for Christ... A new evangelization is the first priority for the Church in Oceania” (no. 18).
I invite you to give time to prayer and to your spiritual formation during this last stage of the journey leading to the XXIII World Youth Day, so that in Sydney you will be able to renew the promises made at your Baptism and Confirmation. Together we shall invoke the Holy Spirit, confidently asking God for the gift of a new Pentecost for the Church and for humanity in the third millennium.
May Mary, united in prayer with the Apostles in the Upper Room, accompany you throughout these months and obtain for all young Christians a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit to set their hearts on fire. Remember: the Church has confidence in you! We Pastors, especially, pray that you may love and lead others to love Jesus more and more and that you may follow Him faithfully. With these sentiments I bless you all with deep affection.
 
 
From Lorenzago, 20 July 2007
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