VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The fast-paced nature of the digital age can cause young men and women to focus more on capturing moments for their social media rather than experiencing them, Pope Francis told Catholic young people.
Both young people and adults can “waste their lives with superficial things, thinking they are alive while in fact they are dead within,” seeking gratification through entertainment and fleeting moments while giving in to “widespread growing digital narcissism,” the pope said in his message for World Youth Day 2020.
“All too many people are living this way! Some of them have perhaps bought into the materialism of those all around them who are concerned only with making money and taking it easy, as if these were the sole purpose of life,” the pope said.
“In the long run,” he added, “this will inevitably lead to unhappiness, apathy and boredom with life, a growing sense of emptiness and frustration.”
The message, released March 5 at the Vatican, centered on a verse from the Gospel of Luke: “Young man, I say to you, arise!”
Pope Francis chose several verses that reflect on the call to “arise” and “stand up” as the themes for World Youth Day 2020-2022. This year and next, World Youth Day will be celebrated on a local level — on Palm Sunday at the Vatican — and in 2022 it will be an international gathering in Lisbon.
The theme for World Youth Day 2020, the pope said, was what Jesus said before raising a young man from the dead.
Christ’s gesture of compassion toward the suffering of the boy’s widowed mother is a reminder for young people today that “sometimes our first reaction is to take a picture with our cellphone without even bothering to look into the eyes of the persons involved.”
“All around us, but at times also within us, we can see realities of death: physical, spiritual, emotional, social. Do we really notice them, or simply let them happen to us? Is there anything we can do in order to restore life?” the pope asked.
Jesus shows young men and women the importance of compassion and empathy toward the suffering of others rather than being self-absorbed, the pope said.
“Do not let yourselves be robbed of this sensitivity!” he said. “May you always be attentive to the plea of those who are suffering, and be moved by those who weep and die in today’s world.”
Just as Christ’s gesture brought the boy back to life, “one sign of closeness, simple yet concrete, can awaken forces of resurrection” in those who are suffering, the pope said.
“If you can feel God’s immense love for every living creature — especially our brothers and sisters who experience hunger and thirst, or are sick or naked or imprisoned — then you will be able to draw near to them as he does,” the pope said. “You will be able to touch them as he does and to bring his life to those of your friends who are inwardly dead, who suffer or have lost faith and hope.”
Pope Francis encouraged young people to not only let their lives be restored by God, but to share that life with others through meaningful relationships that aren’t “superficial, false and hypocritical.”
“Today, we are often ‘connected’ but not communicating. The indiscriminate use of electronic devices can keep us constantly glued to the screen. With this message, I would like to join you, young people, in calling for a cultural change, based on Jesus’ command to ‘arise,'” the pope said.
“If this is our message, many young people will stop looking bored and weary and let their faces come alive and be more beautiful than any virtual reality,” Pope Francis said. “If you give life, someone will be there to receive it.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103