Monday, August 29, 2011

"Do not be afraid to be Catholic" - Pope Benedict tells young people at World Youth Day

This is my "Desktop" article from yesterday's parish bulletin:

Do not be afraid to be Catholic,” Pope Benedict said to the two million - yes, TWO MILLION! - young people attending Mass last Sunday in Madrid’s Cuatro Vientos air base. He called upon the youth of all nations of the world to “share with others the joy of your faith.”
I have attended three World Youth Days - Rome, Toronto, Cologne - and joy-filled faith has been the common denominator. Although I was not able to watch all of the televised events of the Madrid World Youth Day, I saw enough to witness the profound faith with which the youth were participating in the events, a faith manifested in different ways according to the particular circumstances, sometimes thoughtful and more obviously prayerful, at other times with exuberance.
It was profoundly moving to see images of young people recollected in prayer during the Stations of the Cross, during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and at Mass. One of the major successes of World Youth Day was the huge number of confessions. The Pope himself heard some confessions, but priests were extremely generous in continuing to hear confessions way beyond the allotted times as young people sought the healing grace of forgiveness through this beautiful sacrament without which it is impossible to progress in the spiritual life.

Humanly speaking, the prayer vigil last Saturday was a disaster: torrential rains and powerful winds disrupted the Holy Father’s address and caused damage to some of the tents containing the Blessed Sacrament which was reserved for adoration during the night and for the distribution of Holy Communion during the following day’s Mass. As a result a good number of faithful could not receive Holy Communion during Sunday’s Mass. Yet their joy could not be dampened. Here is what one young person, a blogger called “Catholic with Attitude” wrote as a comment on my blog:
I have just arrived back from Madrid after a 24hr coach journey back to London. The storm which hit the vigil ... was truly symbolic of the storms the Church faces and with which young people often have to deal. The gales were very strong indeed! I was trying to take cover in my sleeping bag (and also from the lightning which was truly terrifying!) but I couldn't zip the top part and wind was making me slide down my sleeping mat! Absolutely incredible but I can see the funny side of it now; at the time, I was saddened that the vigil was interrupted. It was also sad that the faithful were not able to receive Communion on the Sunday because the tent reserving the sacrament was destroyed... It was an incredible experience, however, and the Church is truly young and alive and in love with the Successor of Peter, our beloved Holy Father, Benedict XVI. VIVA IL PAPA! VIVA!

Like Pope Benedict, we need to be very realistic about the world in which our young people are living. “You will be swimming against the tide in a society with a relativistic culture which wishes neither to seek nor hold on to the truth.” But see how the Holy Father portrays the high calling to which he is convinced the youth of today are called: “It was for this moment in history, with its great challenges and opportunities, that the Lord sent you, so that, through your faith, the Good News of Jesus might continue to resound throughout the earth.”

The Pope sets high expectations for the youth: “Do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith. The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God… You too have been given the extraordinary task of being disciples and missionaries of Christ in other lands and countries filled with young people who are looking for something greater [than] the empty promises of a lifestyle which has no room for God.” May the Mother of God accompany us and our young people in this missionary vocation. Fr John.

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