Pope Francis called on young people around the world to “arise,” take risks, and to find meaningful relationships.
The pontiff made the call in his message to young people in the run up to the 35th World Youth Day celebration in Lisbon in 2022.
This year, a diocesan level celebration will be held on April 5, Palm Sunday.
In his message, which was released in the Vatican on March 5, the pope urged young people to share their life with others through relationships that aren’t “superficial, false and hypocritical.”
“Today, we are often ‘connected’ but not communicating,” noted the leader of the Catholic Church.
“The indiscriminate use of electronic devices can keep us constantly glued to the screen,” he said.
“With this message,” Pope Francis said, “I would like to join you, young people, in calling for a cultural change, based on Jesus’ command to ‘arise.'”
“If this is our message, many young people will stop looking bored and weary and let their faces come alive and be more beautiful than any virtual reality,” he said.
“If you give life, someone will be there to receive it,” he added.
The pope’s message took its theme from the Gospel of Luke when Jesus said told a young man “I say to you, arise!” (cf. Lk 7: 14).
The pope said Jesus wanted to show young people the importance of compassion and empathy toward the suffering of others rather than being self-absorbed.
The pope’s message is the first of a cycle of three messages dedicated to young people between the World Youth Day in Panama in 2019 and the Lisbon gathering.
A press release from the Vatican noted that the key word that links the three stages of this “itinerary of the Church together with the young people” is the verb “arise.”
In his address, the pope reminded young people that this verb “also takes on the meaning of rising, awakening to life.”
“We are very aware that, as Christians, we constantly fall and have to get up again. People who are not on a journey never fall; then again neither do they move forward,” he said.
“That is why we need to accept the help that Jesus gives us and put our faith in God,” said the pope. “The first step is to let ourselves get up,” he added.
He warned everyone not to waste their lives in entertainment and fleeting moments that have become part of what he described as the “widespread growing digital narcissism.”
The pope noted that many people have become victims to new technologies and have “bought into the materialism of those all around them who are concerned only with making money.”
He said that it will “inevitably lead to unhappiness, apathy and boredom with life, a growing sense of emptiness and frustration.”
The pontiff also pointed out the importance of compassion, especially among the youth.
“Dear young people, do not let yourselves be robbed of this sensitivity,” he said.
“May you always be attentive to the plea of those who are suffering, and be moved by those who weep and die in today’s world.”