I was asked to write a word for you, young man of today, to dedicate this text to you. I think this is the hardest thing somebody could ask me to do. What can I say to a young man at the beginning of the 21st century? If I was always searched and surrounded by young people, it happened not because I knew what to say (God's mercy when I could do that!), but mostly because I tried to listen to them, to make myself partaker in their pains and struggles. I have not always succeeded in doing so, but I’ve always tried.
Young people cannot be fooled. If you're not honest with them, if you pose for someone else, if you have even the slightest trace of hypocrisy or any hidden interest, they can feel it and sooner or later they chose to bypass you. Therefore, if young people avoid us, it is our fault, not theirs. Everyone thinks that they should teach something to young people, criticize them or at the other extreme, inculcate them the idea that they do not need anyone or anything, that they are sufficient unto themselves. But young people cannot be fooled and manipulated endlessly. They need only one thing to be free from the prison of darkness: honesty. Nothing is sadder in this world than to see a sly young man full of self-deception; a young man that can be bought to shout slogans in the markets or who sells his dreams on stalls strung by the fair of this world; a young man who lets himself be corrupted, seeking to succeed following the adults’ model, through compromise and lies. Youth is synonymous with frankness, with enthusiasm, with seeking the truth, with achieving impossible dreams. Young people can be deceived, but cannot be subjected. Youth is unpredictable.
What can I say, however, to young people of today? The same thing I keep telling my three daughters, two of which are already 18 years old. I would tell young people that I have great confidence in them! I do not trust the siren songs of the world that surround them. I do not necessarily trust that they will know how to make the best choices at this age. But I trust the fact that God loves them and that He will show them the Truth and will put them on the Path towards acquiring Life (cf. John 14: 6). I trust that they, young people, are not pleased with less, but they want Everything. That they will suffer from indigestion from so many pleasures, allergies to everything that is artificial or virtual, and will feel the side effects of manipulations of all kinds. That they will know - without being taught at school - to distinguish between someone who uses you and Someone who loves you. Between someone who wants to master you and Someone who wants you to be free. Between those who promise but do not provide, and the One who does not promise, but provides continuously, without claiming anything, except the chance to offer more life (cf. John 10:10). In other words, I choose to trust the fact that young people are more receptive than we believe to God's unobtrusive presence and unconditional love.
I used to see it also in Romania, but it seems that here in the West, there are more young people who immerses themselves in the pleasure offered by sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. In fact, they are searching for an anesthetic for their spiritual wounds. They are young people deprived of meaning that end up quickly in depression. And how can someone not feel bad when you look around and everything looks like a huge spiritual desert? What can comfort their heart; who can fulfill their aspirations? These young people need to look someone in the eye, as through a window from which God waves at them. Therefore, I often feel myself embarrassed when I have to look a young man in the eye. What will he see in me? My passions and infirmities or hope flickering in my heart every time I hear in my mind: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner." How I wish not to be a stumbling block for anyone, especially for these younger friends of mine! How I would enjoy if they would not look at my wretchedness, at my deceiving actions, at my weak words, but at God towards who I can still look up to. I failed in my youth, I (re)discovered God later on. By what right I could ask young people now not to fall, to keep clean? I cannot ask them to do so, but I can tell them about failure. I can only give myself to them as an open book, that they can chose to read or ignore. But mostly, I can offer a heart of a mother and a hug of a father. Not to judge them and not to be bother to tell them that Christ didn’t come to condemn then, "For God did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but the world to be saved through him" (John 3:17).
I said too much for a man who has nothing to say. In fact, in essence, I wanted to say only one thing, which is: Young man, forgive me, as also because of my sins the world has become a place of perdition for you. Forgive and you will overcome everything!