At an event to mark the 25th World Youth Day, Benedict XVI responded to three questions from young participants. Watch a video of the exchange.

Video

Life lessons

Benedict XVI is telling youth how to live a beautiful and joyful life, saying that even sacrifice is attractive if there is a reason for it. The Pope gave life lessons Thursday when he participated in an event to mark the 25th World Youth Day. During the activity, he responded to three questions from young participants.

Three questions

The three questions related to this year’s Youth Day theme: “Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life.”

The first questioner noted that “I don’t even know what eternal life is.”

“Is it possible to make something beautiful and great of my life?” the youth asked the Pontiff.

Benedict XVI responded acknowledging that no one can imagine eternal life, but “we can begin to understand what eternal life is.”

The trick to finding this “true life,” he suggested, lies in following the commandment of love.

“To love God, implies to know God, to recognize God. And this is the first step we must take: to seek to know God,” the Pope said. “And thus we know that our life does not exist by accident, it is not an accident. My life is willed by God from eternity. I am loved, I am necessary. God has a plan for me in the totality of history; he has a plan specifically for me. My life is important and also necessary. Eternal love has created me in profundity and awaits me.”

The Holy Father described the Ten Commandments as “rules” in this “essential” element of love. Love, he continued, is God’s fundamental will for all of us.

“But,” he clarified, “its application is different in every life, because God has a specific plan for each man. […] Very different is the holiness of a monk and that of a politician, of a scientist and a peasant, and so on. And thus for every man God has his plan and I must find, in my circumstances, my way of living this unique and common will of God.”

Being loved

The next youth asked Benedict XVI what it means for Jesus to look at us with love and “how can we also have this experience today.”

The Pope began by affirming that it is possible to experience Christ’s love. Then he explained how to do it.

The first step, he said, is knowing Christ, and he proposed the Gospels as the tool par excellence for this endeavor.

“Only with the opening of the heart to him, only with knowledge of the whole of what he has said and done, with our love, with our going to him, can we little by little know him ever more and thus also have the experience of being loved,” the Holy Father said.

But that isn’t enough, he added. One must also act: “To do good things, to be committed to one’s neighbor.”

He summarized the recipe in this way: “I would say these elements: to listen, to answer, to enter the believing community, communion with Christ in the sacraments, where he gives himself to us, whether in the Eucharist or in confession, etc., and, finally, to do, to carry out the words of the faith, so that they become the force of my life and the look of Jesus also truly appears to me and his love helps me and transforms me.”

Leaving everything

Finally, the third youth challenged the Pope to explain how to have the strength to make renunciations.

Like the rich young man of the Gospel, the youth said, “I also find it hard to follow [Christ], because I am afraid of leaving my things and sometimes the Church asks me for difficult renunciations.”

Renunciation, the Pontiff responded, is a “hard word for us.” But he contended that sacrifices become beautiful “if they have a reason and if this reason then justifies even the difficulty of the renunciation.”

The Holy Father pointed to St. Paul’s teaching on the matter, which illustrates that even non-transcendent goals like winning a race require sacrifice.

“The same thing that is true, with this image of St. Paul for the Olympics, for the whole of sport, is true also for all the other things of life,” the Pope proposed. “A good professional life cannot be achieved without renunciations, without an adequate preparation, which always calls for discipline, it calls for giving up something, and so on, also in art and in all the elements of life.”

Attaining a goal in any field — professional, athletic, artistic, cultural, etc. — requires denying ourselves, the Pope said. “In this connection, it seems to me, we must see that without a ‘no’ to certain things the great ‘yes’ to true life does not grow, as we see it in the figures of the saints.”

And the saints, in fact, are our helpers along this path, Benedict XVI suggested.

“We are helped,” he said, “by the great figures of the history of the Church, by the Word of God, by the parish community, movements, charitable work, etc. And we are helped by the friendships of men who ‘go forward,’ who have already made progress on the way of life and who can convince me that to walk thus is the right way. Let us pray to the Lord that he will always give us friends, communities that help us to see the way of goodness and thus find the beautiful and joyful life.”

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2010 (Zenit.org)