Question-and-Answer Session with Priests of the Dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso
Church of St. Justina Martyr
Auronzo di Cadore
July 25, 2007
Number 6 -- I'm Don Alberto. Holy Father, the youth are our future and our hope, but many now see in life not an opportunity but difficulty; not a gift to them and to others, but something to consume right away; not a project to build, but to wander about without a direction. Today's mentality imposes on the young the obligation to be always happy, always 'perfect', so that every small failure, every difficulty, is no longer seen as an opportunity for growth but as a defeat. All this sometimes leads to irreparable gestures like suicide, which breaks the hearts of those who love them and burdens society itself. What could you tell us educators who often feel helpless, with hands bound and without answers? Thank you.
Pope Benedict -- I think you have given a precise description of a life in which God does not appear. At first glance, it seems like the world today does not have any need of God, and even that, without God, we would all be more free and the world would be a wider place.
But after some time, even among our new generations, they see what happens when God disappears. Nietzsche said, "The great light has been extinguished, the sun has gone out." Life then becomes something casual, a “thing,” and one seeks to make the most of this thing and use life as a thing to gain happiness which is immediate, tangible and realizable.
But the great problem is that if there is no God, and there is no Creator of my life, then life becomes nothing but a part of evolution and has no sense in and of itself. Instead, I should seek to make sense of this piece of being.
Today I see in Germany, and even in the United States, a rather dogged debate between so-called creationism and evolutionism, presented as though they were alternatives which are mutually exclusive. This opposition is an absurdity, because on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favor of evolution that seem to be a reality that we must look at, and which can enrich our knowledge of life and of being.
But the doctrine of evolution does not answer all the questions, and above all, does not answer the great philosophical question: Where does everything come from? And how did everything converge into a path that finally arrived at man?
I think it is very important -- and this is what I wanted to convey in my lecture at Regensburg -- that reason opens up increasingly, that it should see all this knowledge, but that it also sees that it is not enough to explain all reality. It is not enough -- and our reason can be widened to see that even our own reason is not something irrational, not the product of irrationality, but that reason precedes everything, Creative Reason does -- and that we are the reflections of that Creative Reason.
We are all preconceived and willed -- there is an idea that preceded my being, a sense that came before me, and which I should discover and follow because it ultimately gives significance to my life.
So that should be the first point: to truly discover that my being is rational, it was thought, it has a sense, and my great mission is to discover this sense, live it, and that way, add a new element to the great cosmic harmony planned by the Creator.
If that is so, then even the elements of difficulty will become moments of maturation, of process, of progress in my being, which has a sense from the moment of conception up to the last moment of life. And we can know this reality of the sense that preceded us all, just as we can rediscover the sense of suffering and pain.
Of course, there is one pain that we should avoid and which we should eliminate from the world: all the many useless sufferings provoked by dictatorships, by mistaken systems, by hate and by violence. But even pain has a profound sense, and our life can only mature when we can give sense to our pain and suffering.
I would even say that love is not possible without some pain, because love always implies renouncing something in me, leaving something of myself, accepting the other in his or her otherness, and therefore implies giving myself, going out of myself. All this can be painful, but in this suffering of losing myself for the other, for the loved one and therefore for God, I become something more. And my life finds sense in that love.
So even this inseparability of love and pain, of love and God, are elements that should enter into the modern consciousness and help modern man to live.
In this sense, therefore, it is important to help the youth discover God, make them discover true love that becomes greater in renunciation, make them discover the interior value of suffering that can make one more free, a bigger person.
And to make young people discover these elements, they will always need companions and providers, be it Catholic Action or a movement. Together with their contemporaries, the new generations will find it easier to discover this wide dimension of being.