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I saw an enormous human carpet of celebrating people (WYD 2000)

16/04/2005: Vatican

“No one invented the World Youth Days. It was the young people themselves who created them. Those Days, those encounters, then became something desired by young people throughout the world. Most of the time these Days were something of a surprise for priests, and even bishops, in that they surpassed all their expectations.
In the young there is, in fact, an immense potential for good and for creative possibility. Whenever I meet them in my travels throughout the world, I wait first of all to hear what they want to tell me about themselves, about their society, about their Church. And I always point out: ‘What I am going to say to you is not as important as what you are going to say to me. You will not necessarily say it to me in words; you will say it to me by your presence, by your song, perhaps by your dancing, by your skits, and finally by your enthusiasm.’
We need the enthusiasm of the young. We need their joie de vivre. It is not true that the Pope brings the young from one end of the world to the other. It is they who bring him. Actually, in truth, it is not the Pope who is being sought out at all. The one being sought out is Christ. The very day of the inauguration of my papal ministry, on the 22nd October 1978, at the conclusion of the liturgy, I said to the young people gathered in Saint Peters Square: ‘You are the hope of the Church and of the world. You are my hope.’” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope)

Whoever wants to investigate why John Paul II fascinated young people so much needs to reflect on the values that he inevitably passed on: endurance is stronger than appearances. The young people of every generation have always walked along the beam of life maintaining a precarious balance, risking falling at some point or another. Karol Wojtyla was able to break through ancient barriers and find the open spaces of imagination and freedom to be himself and in his own time a messenger of Christ. Thus, he showed that what counts more than communication, more than just words, is presence: being there to propose goals in life.
He never asked: Where have you been? He only ever asked: Where do you want to go? In fact it was he who showed the way, the way that he had travelled not so much as teacher but as witness. And the drive and enthusiasm that he succeeded in passing on was the top quality fuel needed to continue to account for the hope present in each one of us.

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