"What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the 'power' which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make?"
This was a powerful challenge given to the youth of the world by Pope Benedict XVI during the World Youth Day closing Mass in Australia on Sunday morning. It is something for all of us to think about...what difference do I make? Maybe a question that goes along with that one is "how do I make a difference?" Sometimes we can make excuses for not doing our best in life by comparing ourselves to the gifts and talents of others and rationalizing that we cannot really make a difference because we are not as equally gifted or talented. But this is just one of the devil's methods of trickery. God has given to us all the great theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Exercising these virtues is all it takes to make a tremendous difference in the world. This is something Pier Giorgio Frassati's life shows us. He simply went about his daily life living out the virtue of charity one act at a time. That is something we all can do.
I have been reading a lot of wonderful testimonies of people who were so moved by the opportunity to pray in front of Pier Giorgio's coffin in Sydney. The exhibit dedicated to him told the simple story of his life. Maybe it moves people so much because the story is our own. We all have difficulties and struggles and secret pain, as Pier Giorgio did. And like him, we can all respond to God's grace with faith and hope and love. He shows us that holiness is for each one of us and that true riches come from a life lived for God.
Watching the World Youth Day Mass on television was so inspiring to me that I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the air. I remembered back to hearing the great Pope John Paul II giving a great commission to all of us at Denver years ago to go out and live life to its fullest for Christ. We were challenged again yesterday by Pope Benedict in the same way: "Do not be afraid to say 'yes' to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!"
This is all it takes to make a difference. Be fearless and be God's. Verso l'alto!