Update: Papal preacher to young people: Discover love, joy, life Jesus offers

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

While the church listens to young people in preparation for this year’s synod,
the church must not forget to also help them listen to Jesus and discover what
he has to offer, said the preacher of the papal household.

“On the cross, Jesus not
only gave us an example of self-giving love carried to the extreme, he also
merited the grace for us to be able to bring it to pass, to some extent, in our
lives,” Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said during a service
commemorating Christ’s death on the cross.

Pope Francis presided
over the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, which began with a silent,
solemn procession down the central nave of St. Peter’s Basilica March 30.

Two aides then helped
the 81-year-old pope down onto his knees as he stretched himself prostrate on
the floor before the main altar of the basilica. His bare head rested on a red
pillow, in silent prayer, in a sign of adoration and penance. As is customary,
the papal household’s preacher gave the homily.

Father Cantalamessa said
it was appropriate that, given this year’s upcoming Synod of Bishops on young
people, faith and discernment, the church “make an effort to discover together
with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the church
and society.”

“The most important
thing, however, is something else; it is to help young people understand what
Jesus has to offer them” — fullness of joy and abundant life, he said.

Repeating the pope’s
call for all Christians to renew their relationship with Jesus or at least be
open to letting him encounter them each day, the Capuchin priest said God has a
special mission for young people.

Their task, he said, is
“to rescue human love from the tragic drift it had ended up — love that is no
longer a gift of self but only the possession, often violent and tyrannical, of

The ability to be
totally giving and welcoming of love requires long preparation, whether it be
for the vocation of marriage, religious life or service, he said.

Jesus on the cross is an
example of giving himself for others carried to the extreme, and Christians are
called to be courageous in going against the current cultural stream of
selfishness and going against the crowd that chases after worldly things, he

There is a world out
there that has nothing to do with God’s plan, he said; it is a world that has
come “under the dominion of Satan and sin” and plays a “decisive role in public
opinion,” which is then spread in infinite ways “electronically, through

These mistaken ways are
then seen as “the norm” so that when people “act, think or speak against this
spirit (it) is regarded as nonsensical
or even as wrong and criminal,” he said.

He encouraged young
people to go the opposite direction where Jesus, “our
God and savior,” awaits.

After the homily,
the assembly venerated the cross, which was carried down the central nave and
held before the pope. The pope had removed his red chasuble and, in a sign of
penance, placed a red stole over his shoulders. He kissed and leaned his head
against the cross.

Pope Francis was
scheduled to speak briefly later that night at the end of the Stations of the
Cross in Rome’s Colosseum. At his request, the meditations on the stations were
written by young people.

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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

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