Towards WYD in Lisbon (Photo: COD Lisboa)

WYD: Davide Prosperi's message

The President of the Fraternity's words to high school and college students on pilgrimage to Lisbon for World Youth Day and the meeting with Pope Francis.
Davide Prosperi

Dear friends,

Surely a deep and moved gratitude for the testimony you provide me and the entire movement motivates me to send you this message on behalf of all of our great companionship. Your yes to such a meaningful gesture gives all of us a luminous example of a simplicity of heart and a pure freedom that is a prelude to the greater yes to Christ’s call that is asked of us in each moment of our life.

Pope Francis’ message to the WYD participants made the content of this proposal very clear, and let me say, in my experience, this is the most crucial secret of life: “My message for you, dear young people, the great message entrusted to the Church, is Jesus! Yes, Jesus Himself, in His infinite love for each of us, His salvation and the new life He has bestowed upon us. Mary is our model; she shows us how to welcome this immense gift into our lives, to share it with others, and thus to bring Christ, his compassionate love and his generous service to our deeply wounded humanity.”

Looking at you as you ready yourselves for this journey together, with your gaze fixed on Our Lady’s yes, to learn from her, we adults, too, rediscover that life is a task. We have been chosen by Christ, and chosen for a purpose: to contribute to making Him known by everyone, “Christ is all and in all,” as announced in Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Your yes today is the first acknowledgement that God has called you and that being called means being sent. Every moment of your day becomes the beginning of mission: in obeying Jesus’ plan and belonging to the great companionship of the Church, it is possible to begin to experience the “hundredfold here below” that He Himself promised, in the places of your daily life (family, friends, school, work, etc.) and then wherever the big decisions ahead will take you. You will discover that you desire to bear witness to Him to everyone. My wish for you is that you will be willing to live not just for yourselves, but for great things, offering your every breath in answer to His call.

The world needs this more than ever. In fact, Fr. Giussani said, “To become aware of one’s own vocation, to understand one’s life by following the calling, to conceive of one’s existence as in service to everything: here is the vital commitment of one’s very being which Christ’s Spirit plainly demands, giving one the strength to begin and to remain faithful. The modern conception of life never shows itself so far from the Spirit of Christ as in the whole question of vocation. Today’s mentality accustoms us to look to the future with a criterion focused on profit, enjoyment, and comfort. The road to choose, the person to love, the profession to undertake, the faculty or department in which to enrol–everything is determined by the criterion of absolute utility for the individual. […] the total devotion to, and preoccupation with, the Kingdom is completely absent, in which the reality of Christ is missing. “How can I make the world work to my advantage? How can I get the most out of everything and everyone?”–these are the criteria dictated by collective wisdom and pragmatism. The Christian mentality overturns, contradicts, and represses those questions, forcing the exact opposite to the fore: “How can I give myself as I am, serve all things, the Kingdom, and Christ evermore?” This is the only educative criterion for the human personality as redeemed by the light and strength of the Spirit of Christ. Simple, lucid, comprehensive sincerity and resolute magnanimity as a Christian concept of our own existence can develop easily and surely only in early youth.” (The Journey to Truth is an Experience, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 2006, p. 79).

Take heed of Fr. Giussani’s words, follow the Pope, follow Fr. Francesco and the companionship that has seized you so that every step is sure, and you will find yourselves building His Church. I assure you that in this way the joy you will feel in the coming days as you bring your requests to the Mother of Jesus alongside so many young people like yourselves from all over the world, the joy you experience when your thirst for happiness and good find unexpected and undeserved correspondence, will be a possibility always offered to your life. You can also ask this of She who carried the light of life in her womb: that the sweet gaze of Our Lady be the ever-shining lamp that no shadow can ever cover entirely, even in the most difficult and painful moments, even in the moments of sadness and darkness. Hope grounded in the joy of friendship with Jesus, lived in history, is the greatest treasure that you will always carry with you. “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (Jn. 15:15-16). We are not alone. Christ has put us together, giving us this definitive friendship.

I entrust to your prayers to the Mother of God the conversion of us all.

With affection,

Davide Prosperi