VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Friday told a group of youth that the greatest challenge in his vocation so far has been finding true peace, and encouraged them to learn how to discern between this peace and the one offered by the devil.
“I would say finding peace in the Lord. That peace that only Jesus can give, in work and chores” the Pope said in response to the question, posed by one of the youth he met with in audience that day.
“The key is finding that peace which means that the Lord is with you and helps you,” he said.
Francis then stressed the importance of knowing how to tell the difference between peace from God, and the false peace offered by the devil.
True peace, he said, always comes from Jesus, and is sometimes “wrapped” in the cross, while the other, false peace that only makes you “kind of happy” comes from the devil.
“We have to ask for this grace to distinguish, to know true peace,” the Pope said, explaining that while on the outside we might think everything is ok and that we’re doing good, “way down inside is the devil.”
“The devil always destroys. He tells you this is the way and then leaves you alone,” he continued, adding that the devil is “a poor payer; he always rips you off.”
A sign of this peace, Francis said, is joy, because true joy is something that only Jesus can give.
The challenge for both them and himself “is to find the peace of Jesus, also in difficult moments, to find Jesus’ peace and to recognize that peace which has make-up on it,” the Pope said.
He made his comments during an audience with more than 1,500 members of the International Eucharistic Youth Movement. They are meeting in Rome from Aug. 4-10 in honor of the 100th anniversary of their founding in 1915. The theme for the gathering is “Joy be with you.”
Six of the youth present, from Italy, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Taiwan, and France got to meet the Pope personally and ask him questions on things that affect their daily life.
Among the topics discussed were tensions and conflicts within families and society, the discernment between true and false peace, signs of hope in the world and deepening one’s relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.
Subhead: Understand differences
In his response to the question on conflict, Pope Francis noted how there are many conflicts present in the world, and said that we should neither be afraid of them nor seek them out. Some conflicts, he said, can be good and help us to understand differences.
One problem with the world’s current conflicts is that “one culture doesn’t tolerate another,” he said, and pointed to the Rohingya as an example.
Rohingya people are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group largely from the Rakhine state of Burma, in west Myanmar. Since clashes began in 2012 between the state’s Buddhist community and the long-oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority, more than 100,000 Rohingya’s have fled Myanmar by sea, according to the UN.
In order to escape forced segregation from the rest of the population inside rural ghettos, many of the Rohingya – who are not recognized by the government as a legitimate ethnic group or as citizens or Myanmar – have made the perilous journey at sea in hopes of evading persecution.
In May Pope Francis spoke out after a number of Rohingya people – estimated to be in the thousands – were stranded at sea in boats with dwindling supplies while Southeastern nations such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia refused to take them in.
This, he told the youth, “is called killing. It’s true. If I have a conflict with you and I kill you, its war.”
Conflict is normal when so many different cultures exist in one country, the Pope observed, but emphasized that there must be mutual respect in order for these conflicts to be resolved.
He said that dialogue is the best resolution to the great social problems of today, and pointed to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East as an example of when one culture doesn’t respect the identity or faith of another.
Pope Francis also wrote a letter to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem S.B. Fouwad Toual for the Aug. 8 anniversary of the first arrival of Iraqi refugees in Jordan.
In his letter, the Pope thanked Jordan for welcoming the refugees, saying their actions bear witness to Christ’s resurrection.
He also noted how these refugees are “victims of fanaticism and intolerance, often under the eyes and silence of all,” and called on the international community to step up their efforts in putting an end to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.
In his speech to the youth, Francis said that even if you disagree with another culture’s practice, “Respect. Look for the good in it. Respect. In this way, conflicts are resolved with respect for the identity of others. Conflicts are resolved with dialogue.”
Another question posed to the Pope was if he sees true signs of joy in amid the problems of the 21st century.
Pope Francis responded by saying that the signs are there, and that one of them is seeing so many youth gathered together who believe that Jesus is truly in the Eucharist.
He also pointed to the family, noting that right now there are many strong tensions between generations.
Often when we speak of generations, parents and children come to mind, but grandparents are frequently left out, Francis observed.
“Grandparents are the great forgotten of this time,” he said, and encouraged the youth to speak to their grandparents, who are sources of wisdom due to the memory they have of life, tensions, conflicts and faith.
“Always when you meet your grandparents you find a surprise. They are patient, they know how to listen…don’t forget grandparents, understand?”
The last question the Pope answered, posed by a youth named Maradona, was what he would say to young people so that they might discover the depth of the Eucharist.
Francis immediately turned to the Last Supper, where Jesus gave us his body and blood for our salvation.
“The memory of Jesus…is there. The memory of the gesture of Jesus who then went to the Mount of Olives to start his Passion,” which is a personal act of love for each individual, he said.