Panama City, Panama, Jan 27, 2019 / 03:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with World Youth Day volunteers Sunday, thanking them for their service and reminding them of the importance of preceding their endeavors with prayer.
“Thank you all, because in these days you have been attentive to even the smallest details, however ordinary and apparently insignificant, like offering someone a glass of water,” the pope said Jan. 27 at Panama City’s Rommel Fernandez Stadium.
“You prepared every detail with joy, creativity and commitment, and with much prayer. For when we pray about things, we feel them more profoundly. Prayer gives force and vitality to everything we do. In praying, we discover that we are part of a family larger than what we can see or imagine. In praying, we open everything we do to the Church that supports and accompanies us from heaven, to the saints who have shown us the way, but above all, we open it all to God.”
He said faith “comes more alive, dynamic and real … when we come together to serve others.”
“We experience a different kind of joy from having had the opportunity to work side by side with others in achieving a shared dream. I know that all of you have experienced this.”
Volunteering for such an event involves sacrifices and an experience of our own weaknesses, the pope said. “The good thing is that you did not let those weaknesses get in the way of your service, or bother you too much … That is the beauty of knowing that we are sent, the joy of knowing that, in spite of every difficulty, we have a mission to carry out. Not to let our limitations, our weaknesses and even our sins hold us back and stop us from living the mission, because God invites us to do what we can and ask for what we cannot, in the knowledge that his love is taking hold of us and transforming us progressively.”
Putting service and mission first, “everything else will follow,” according to Pope Francis.
The pope reflected that the volunteers “could have easily chosen to do other things, but you wanted to be involved … you have shown that it is possible to set aside your own interests in order to help others.”
He commended in particular one of the volunteers who had given a testimony, Stella Maris del Carmen Deville Moreno, who chose not to attend Krakow’s World Youth Day after having saved up to do so, so that she could care for her grandparents instead.
“You gave up doing something you wanted to do and had dreamed about, in order to help and accompany your family, to honour your roots.”
Pope Francis stated: “Every time we forego something that we like for the good of others and especially those most in need, or our roots as in the case of our grandparents and the elderly, the Lord pays it back a hundredfold.”
“You have had a more lively and real experience of faith; you have experienced the strength born of prayer and a new and different kind of joy, the fruit of working side by side even with people you did not know,” the pope concluded.
“Now is the moment when you are sent forth: go out and tell, go out and bear witness, go out and spread the word about everything you have seen and heard. Dear friends, let everyone know about what happened during these days.”
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