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Pope to Youth: Be Missionaries of Joy!

On the XXVII World Youth Day, which will be celebrated at the diocesan level this Palm Sunday throughout the Catholic world, Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging youth to be "missionaries of joy."

In his message for the day, which is based on the theme from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil. 4:4), the Holy Father says: "We cannot be happy if others are not: joy has to be shared. Go and tell other young people about your joy at finding the precious treasure which is Jesus himself. We cannot keep the joy of faith to ourselves: if we are not to keep it, we must give it away."

He went on to stress that "the Church's vocation is to bring joy to the world, a joy that is authentic and enduring, the joy proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born."

The message also points out the need for this joy to be spread. " . . . (I)n these difficult times, so many young people ... have a great need to hear that the Christian message is a message of joy and hope."

The human heart seeks a "perfect, full and lasting joy" much more than it does the immediate and more fleeting feelings of satisfaction, and one that will add "flavor" to our existence.

But this  joy must be authentic, which means it must have its source in God, "even if this does not seem immediately obvious," the Pope said.

"Joy is intimately linked to love: they are inseparable gifts of the Holy Spirit. Love gives rise to joy, and joy is a form of love."

He encouraged young people to enter the joy of being generous and engaging fully in life, with particular attention to the most needy, helping to make society more just and humane.

Those who are being called to the religious, monastic or missionary life should not be afraid of this precious call of Christ. "Be assured that He fills with joy all those who respond to his invitation to leave everything to be with Him and to devote themselves with undivided heart to the service of others."

The Holy Father concluded his message by urging youth to frequent the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, which is "the sacrament of joy rediscovered" and highlights two young people Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) and Chiara Badano (1971-1990) , "who show that authentic Christians are never despairing or sad, not even when faced with difficult trials, and show that Christian joy is not a flight from reality, but a supernatural power that helps us to deal with the challenges of daily life".

The message ends with an invitation to the young to be "missionaries of joy", "enthusiastic witnesses of the new evangelization! Go to those who are suffering and those who are searching, and give them the joy that Jesus wants to bestow. Bring it to your families, your schools and universities, and your workplaces and your friends, wherever you live. You will see how it is contagious."

Click here to read the full text of the message.

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