VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Life is a long series of hellos and
goodbyes, so don't be afraid to let go of the past; remember old friends, but
keep moving and be open to the new, Pope Francis told students as the school
year was coming to an end.
"We have to learn to see life by seeing the
horizons," not the walls that can make people afraid because they don't
know what is on the other side, he told thousands of adolescents during a
45-minute encounter at the Vatican June 2. The middle-schoolers were part of
Communion and Liberation's "The Knights of the Grail" educational
In the informal Q-and-A, a teen named Marta told the pope
how scared she was to be leaving middle school and most of her best friends as
they head on to high school next year. "Why do I have to change
everything? Why does growing up make me so afraid?" she asked him.
"Life is a constant 'Good morning' and
'Farewell,'" he said, with the goodbyes sometimes being for forever.
"You grow by encountering and by taking your
leave," he said. "If you don't learn to say goodbye well, you will
never learn how to encounter new people."
This moment of change in life is "a challenge,"
he said, but "in life we have to get used to this journey of leaving
something behind and encountering something new."
Noting that Marta had used the word "afraid" a
number of times in her question, the pope said the risk that comes with the
challenge is that fear will render a person immobile, "too serene"
and unable to grow.
Those who give up, settle down and say, "Enough,"
close off the horizons that are out there waiting for them and do not grow.
"Look at that wall? What's behind it?" he asked
the girl. "I don't know," she said.
"But if you go outside, to the countryside, what do
you see?" he asked. "I see everything," she replied.
"Everything! You see the horizon," the pope
said. "We have to learn to see life by looking at the horizons" that
are always open, always lying ahead, by meeting new people and having new
Instead of framing the future with terms like
"fear" or "afraid," he added, try "using the word 'a
challenge' more" and remembering, "I will win this challenge or I
will let this challenge defeat me."
"Look at the wall and think about the horizon that
lies in the countryside," he said. The more a person journeys toward the
horizon, the farther, longer and wider that horizon becomes.
Remember to call and visit old friends, he said,
"but live and journey with the new ones."
When asked how kids their age could change the world when
it has so many problems, the pope told them they have to begin with the people
and situations in their daily lives.
Think of what happens to a person's hand when sharing a
piece of candy, for example: It's open and moves toward the other person, the
pope said. Now think of what happens when a person wants to keep that candy for
himself or herself: The hand closes up tight and moves away from the other.
One's heart has to be like the hand that is responding in
a positive, generous way, not the negative, self-centered approach, he said.
"You can begin to change the world with an open
heart," the pope said, and by listening to others, welcoming others and
Pray for everyone, including one's enemies and
"those who make you suffer," he said, "Never return evil with
Don't bad-mouth, insult or wish bad things would happen to
others, he said. "That's how you can change the world. There is no magic
wand, but there are little things we can learn to do every day."
Pope Francis suggested that the kids meet up to openly
discuss the right and the wrong ways to respond to the many difficulties or
choices that have to make each day.