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Pope Francis Encouraging his young people to follow their dreams and not be tempted by today’s consumerist “sirens” that promise easy pleasures, he ended his trip to Greece on Monday.

When boarded by a gust of wind, Francis struggled for some time to keep his balance on the stairs while boarding the plane bound for Rome and was helped on board by an aide.

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Earlier, Francis met with students at a Catholic school in Athens on his final schedule of a five-day visit to Cyprus and Greece, which has been his concern for the plight of migrants entering Europe.

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He echoed a common theme raised with young people, encouraging them to stand firm in their faith even in the midst of doubt, and resist the temptation to pursue materialistic goals. He cited the temptation generated by Homer’s Odyssey and the Sirens, who “enchanted sailors with their songs and made them crash against rocks.”

“Today’s sirens want to charm you with seductive and insistent messages that focus on easy profit, the false needs of consumerism, the cult of physical well-being, entertainment at all costs,” he said. “These are all like fireworks: they flare up for a moment, but then turn into smoke in the air.”

Two immigrant students were among those who greeted the Pope, including an 18-year-old Syrian refugee, Aboud Gabro, who told the Pope about his family’s escape from Aleppo after a bombing at his home in 2014. They eventually reached Greece after a dangerous boat crossing from Turkey.

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Pope Francis visits St. Dionysius' School of the Ursuline Sisters on Monday, December 6, 2021 in Athens, Greece.

“It was hard to stay on the reef without water or food, waiting for the dawn and a Coast Guard ship to come to our rescue,” Gabro said.

Francis listened to his story, “a true modern-day odyssey” and expressed gratitude that he and his family had made it safely and that “after so many denials and a thousand hardships, you landed in this country.” But he suggested that it also shows adventure and a sense of people following their dreams.

Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with youth at St. Dionysius' School of Ursuline Sisters in Athens, Greece, Monday, December 6, 2021.

“The meaning of life is not to be found on the beach waiting for the wind to bring something new. Salvation is in the open sea, in setting sail, in the search, in the pursuit of dreams, the real dreams, which we chase after the eyes are open, including efforts, conflicts, adverse winds, sudden storms.” “So don’t be paralyzed by fear: dream big! And dream together!”

Francis is returning to the Vatican with some important events ahead of Christmas on his agenda: a scheduled meeting with members of the French commission that investigated sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church; a scheduled meeting with the indigenous people of Canada to apologize to the Pope for misbehavior in Catholic-run residential schools; And Francis’s 85th birthday is on 17 December.