Here is a working translation of the Message that Pope Francis sent to young Brazilians taking part in the National Meeting in the Shrine of Aparecida, Brazil, at the end of the “Rota 300” project.
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The Holy Father’s Message
Dear young people, I greet you affectionately, young people of Brazil, gathered in Aparecida for the closing of the “Rota 300” Project, in the Marian Year that commemorates the 300 years of the finding of Our Lady’s image in the waters of Rio Paraiba do Sul.
For this occasion, I would like to highlight an aspect of the Message that I wrote you this year, for the 32nd World Youth Day: the Virgin Mary is a beautiful example for youth and a help in the walk on the way of life. Great reflections are not necessary for you to perceive this truth; suffice it to contemplate the image of the Mother Aparecida, during the pilgrimage that you will make to her National Shrine. I myself had that experience, when I was there in 2007, for the occasion of the 5th Conference of the Latin American Episcopate and then in 2013, during the WYD in Rio de Janeiro.
I was able to discover there the tender and maternal look of the dark Virgin and in the eyes of the simple people that contemplated her, the secret of hope that moves the Brazilian people, to face with faith and courage the challenges of each day. I was also able to contemplate the revolutionary force of an affectionate Mother that moves the heart of her children to come out of themselves with great missionary impetus, as voices also did during the missionary week that just ended in the Vale do Paraiba. Congratulations for this witness!
Dear friends, in the midst of the uncertainties and insecurities of every day, in the midst of the precariousness that situations of injustice create around you, have a certainty: Mary is a sign of hope who will encourage you with a great missionary impulse. She knows the challenges in which you live. With her maternal attention and accompaniment, she makes you perceive that you are not
alone. In this connection, it is worthwhile to recall the history of those poor fishermen, who after fishing without great results, in the Paraiba do Sul river, cast their nets more than once and were surprised by the broken image of Our Lady covered with sludge. First they found the body, then immediately the head. As I commented to the Brazilian Bishops in 2013, the event has in itself a very significant symbolism: what was divided, returned to unity, as the heart of those fishermen, as colonial Brazil itself, divided by slavery, which found its unity in faith that that dark image of Our Lady inspired (Cf. Address to the Bishops of Brazil, 27/7/2013). Therefore, I invite you also to let your hearts be transformed by the encounter with Our Mother Aparecida. May she transform the “networks” of your life – networks of friends, social networks, material and virtual networks, realities that so often are found divided, in something more significant: that they are converted in a community! “Outgoing” missionary communities! — communities that are light and leaven of a more just and fraternal society.
Thus integrated in their communities, do not be afraid to risk yourselves and to commit yourselves in the building of a new society, permeating with the strength of the Gospel the social, political, economic and university realms! Do not be afraid to fight against corruption and do not let yourselves be seduced by it! Trusting in the Lord, whose presence is source of life in abundance, and under the mantle of Mary, you can rediscover creativity and the strength to be protagonists of a culture of alliance and thus generate new paradigms that will guide the life of Brazil (Cf. Message to the CELAM Assembly, 8/5/2017).
Through the intercession of the Virgin Aparecida, may the Lord be able to renew hope and the missionary spirit in each one of you. You are the hope of Brazil and of the world. And the novelty, of which you are bearers, already begins to be built today. May Our Lady, who in her youth was able to embrace God’s call in her life with courage and go out to encounter the neediest, be able to go before you, guiding you in all His ways! And for this, I send each one the Apostolic Blessing,, which I extend to your families and friends, asking please, that you not forget to pray for me too.
Vatican, July 3, 2017
[Original text: Portuguese] [Working Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]