At the airport in Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis greeted volunteers and dignitaries, and instead of reading his prepared speech, he gave this impromptu discourse to those present.
Before returning for Rome, I wanted to meet you and, before all else, to thank each of you for the effort, generosity and dedication you showed in guiding, helping and serving the thousands of young pilgrims. Thank you too for your witness of faith, which, together with that of so many young people from every part of the world, is a great sign of hope for the Church and the world. By giving of yourselves for love of Christ, you have experienced the beauty of commitment to a noble cause.
I wrote a talk for you… five pages… I don’t know if it is good or bad. A little boring… I’ll give it to you… But they tell me I can speak to you in any language, since there are translators. Shall I speak in Spanish?
Preparing a Youth Day is an adventure. It is about taking a risk and seeing it pay off. It is about service, hard work, accomplishment and then leaving it behind. First, adventure and generosity. I would like to thank you, the volunteers and the sponsors, for everything you have done. I would like to thank you for the hours you spent in prayer, because I know that this day took shape as a result of much work but also many prayers. Thanks to the volunteers who devoted significant time to prayer, so that we could make this happen.
Thanks also to the priests who accompanied you. Thanks to the religious women who accompanied you, to the consecrated persons, and to all of you who set out on this adventure with hope of making it happen.
The bishop who just spoke paid you a compliment. He said you are the hope of future, and that is true. But with two conditions. Do you want to be the hope for the future or not? The two conditions cost nothing. The first condition is to remember. Trying to understand where I come from: the memory of my people, my family, my whole history. The witness, talk, that was given by the second volunteer was full of this memory. Memory of the path I have taken, memory of everything I have received from those who have gone before me. A young person who cannot remember is no hope for the future. Is that clear? So, Father, how do I go about remembering? First, talk to your grandparents. Because if you want to be hope for the future, you have to receive the torch from your grandfather and your grandmother.
Will you promise me that in preparing for Panama, you will talk more with your grandparents? If your grandparents are already in heaven, will you talk to with the elderly? Are you going to ask them questions? Ask them. They are the wisdom of a people. So, in order to be hope, the first condition is to remember. You are the hope of the future, the Bishop told you.
Second condition. If I am hope for the future and I have memory of the past, then what about the present? What must I do in the present? Have courage, be strong, don’t be afraid. Let us heed the witness, the final witness given by our young friend who died of cancer. He wanted to be here and didn’t make it, but he had the courage to face things and the courage to keep fighting even in the worst of conditions. Today he is not here, but that young man sowed hope for the future.
So, for the present? Courage. Bravery and courage. Is that clear? And then, if you have… What was the first thing? [Memory!] And then? [Courage!] you are going to be the hope… [of the future!]
Is all this clear? Good.
I don’t know if I’m going to be in Panama, but I can tell you one thing: that Peter will be in Panama. And Peter is going to ask you if you talked with your grandparents if you talked with the elderly in order to remember, and if you had the courage and bravery to meet situations head on and in that way to sow seeds for the future. And you are going to have to answer to Peter. Right?
God bless you all. Thank you, thank you for everything. And now let us all pray, each in his or her own language, to Our Lady.
HAIL MARY I ask you also to pray for me. Don’t forget! I give you my blessing.[BLESSING]
Oh, and I forgot… What were those three things? [Memory, courage, future!]
Translated and published by Salt & Light