SANTIAGO, Chile — In a meeting with youth during his second full day in Chile, Pope Francis said that faith is a grand adventure, one that gives young people the inspiration to overcome difficulties and dream big.
“I know that the hearts of young Chileans dream and that they dream big dreams, for these lands have given rise to experiences that spread and multiplied across the different countries of our continent,” he said.
“Who inspired those dreams? It was young people like yourselves, who were inspired to experience the adventure of faith,” the Pope said Jan. 17 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Carmel in Maipú, a suburb of Santiago, Chile.
“For faith excites in young people feelings of adventure, an adventure that beckons them to traverse unbelievable landscapes, rough and tough terrain,” he said, but added that young people like adventures and challenges.
Pope Francis spoke to youth during an encounter at the National Shrine of Maipú, which includes a basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patroness and queen of Chile.
Among those present was a group who took part in a 10-day missionary project earlier this month in anticipation of Francis’ visit. The project included more than 2,500 college students, who spread out to 90 rural communities across Chile to share their faith, lead youth activities and build chapels.
During the encounter, students presented the Pope with a flag signed by those who took part in the mission projects, as well as a scale model of a rural chapel, representing the evangelization of the peripheries of Chile.
Pope Francis said that the national shrine where the gathering with youth took place “is a home to both heaven and earth: a home for Chile, a home for you, dear young people, where Our Lady of Carmel waits for you and welcomes you with an open heart.”
Just like she has accompanied the nation and its people over these last 200 years, she wants to accompany you and the dreams that God has placed in your hearts, he said, “dreams of freedom, dreams of joy, dreams of a better future.”
Francis told a story about a young man who once told him about how unhappy it made him when his cellphone battery died or when he couldn’t connect to the internet. The young man said it was because when this happens, it makes him feel “shut off from the world, stuck.”
The same thing can happen in our faith: “After a while on the journey or after an initial spurt, there are moments when, without even realizing it, our ‘bandwidth’ begins to fade and we lose our connection, our power,” Pope Francis said.
“Then we become unhappy and we lose our faith, we feel depressed and listless, and we start to view everything in a bad light.”
Jesus is like an internet “connection,” he continued. Without a good relationship with Jesus, we can become frustrated and annoyed, even starting to believe that nothing really matters or that nothing we do makes a difference.
“It worries me that, once they have lost their ‘connection,’ many people think they have nothing to offer; they feel lost. Never think that you have nothing to offer or that nobody cares about you. Never!” Francis emphasized.
Referencing the Chilean St. Alberto Hurtado, he said that the saint can be a good guide for young people on how to set their hearts ablaze “with the fire that keeps joy alive,” which is Jesus.
St. Alberto’s “password” for achieving happiness was to ask the question: “What would Christ do in my place?” Francis said, asking youth to type that phrase into their phones to remember to ask the question on a regular basis.
He advised them to ask themselves “at school, at university, when outdoors, when at home, among friends, at work, when taunted: ‘What would Christ do in my place?’ When you go dancing, when you are playing or watching sports: ‘What would Christ do in my place?’”
The only way to commit something to heart, like a password, is by using it over and over, day after day, the Pope said. Therefore, “wherever you are, with whomever you are with, and whenever you get together,” ask yourself: “What would Jesus do?”
“The time will come when you know it by heart, and the day will come when, without realizing it, your heart will beat like Jesus’ heart.”
“Dear friends, be courageous! Go out straightaway to meet your friends, people you don’t know, or those having troubles,” he encouraged.
“Go out with the only promise we have: that wherever you are … you will always be ‘connected’; there will always be a ‘power source.’ We will never be alone. We will always enjoy the company of Jesus, his Mother and a community.”