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Pope Francis has issued a message to the world’s children in anticipation of the Church’s first-ever World Children’s Day, which will take place in Rome from May 25–26, reminding them that the key to happiness lies in cultivating a prayer life and personal relationship with Christ, which in turn forms the basis of broader social action.

“If we really want to be happy, we need to pray, to pray a lot, to pray every day, because prayer connects us directly to God. Prayer fills our hearts with light and warmth; it helps us to do everything with confidence and peace of mind,” the pope wrote in his March 2 letter addressed to the world’s children.

The pope followed up this reflection by asking children to pray the Lord’s Prayer “every morning and every evening, in your families too, together with your parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents.” But the pope urged children to not merely recite the words but to reflect on their meaning and on Jesus’ ministry.

“He is calling us and he wants us to join actively with him, on this World Children’s Day, to become builders of a new, more humane, just, and peaceful world. Jesus, who offered himself on the cross to gather all of us together in love, who conquered death and reconciled us with the Father, wants to continue his work in the Church through us,” the pope continued

Pope Francis announced the creation of World Children’s Day last December, saying that it will be an event to bring children from all around the world together to reflect on the question of “What kind of world do we wish to pass on to the children who are growing up?” The Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education is sponsoring the initiative.

In his March 2 letter, the pope explained the theme for the World Day of Children is taken from Jesus’ words in the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.” The pope noted these words “invite us to become as clever as children in grasping the new realities stirred up by the Spirit, both within us and around us.”

Reflecting on the importance of children for families, the pope noted that they are a sign “of every person’s desire to grow and flourish” and a “source of joy,” a recognition that helps foster an intergenerational link “from the past to the future.”

The pope’s message also touched upon the need for social action, asking young people to always remember “other children and young people who are already battling illness and hardship.”

Highlighting the examples of those who are facing poverty and hunger, “victims of war and violence,” or those “forced to be soldiers or to flee as refugees, separated from their parents,” Pope Francis pleaded that “we need to hear those voices, for amid their sufferings they remind us of reality, with their tearful eyes and with that tenacious yearning for goodness that endures in the hearts of those who have truly seen the horror of evil.”

The pope encouraged children that action starts on the local level through small acts of kindness.

“Our world will change if we all begin with these little things, without being ashamed to take small steps, one at a time,” the pope expressed.

By Matthew Santucci

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