Given the time difference between the US and Spain it has been difficult to keep up with events at World Youth Day. But without a doubt it has been an momentous event for the Church. I really feel the World Youth Day has come of age thanks to our very Holy Father Pope Benedict. Blessed Pope John Paul II left a marvellous legacy, but would it be presumptuous to assert that Pope Benedict has really presided over the most mature celebration of World Youth Day ever.
I have been struck by the beauty of Catholic Culture at the various events: the beautiful music which has been of a polyphonic nature; the use of Latin at key liturgical points. The Pope gave his greeting "Pax vobis" (Peace be with you) in Latin. The Our Father was prayed in Latin. In the final Mass the Creed was sung in Latin. Each of the Prayers of the Faithful was introduced in Latin before being read in the different languages of the world. The music was both modern and classical in nature. The beautiful Spanish art on display at the Way of the Cross and the stupendous monstrance used at the Prayer Vigil show to the world and to the youth all that is best about our Catholic heritage.
Humanly speaking, the Prayer Vigil on Saturday night was utterly ruined by the torrential rain and high winds that disrupted the ceremony, yet the enthusiasm of the youth was not to be dampened. They were rejoicing at being in the presence of their Holy Father Pope Benedict. "Esa es la juventud del Papa" they proclaimed: "We are the youth of the Pope." The Papacy is in a very strong position judging by the esteem in which the two million young people present at the Madrid air base hold it.
I have not found many video clips of the event but see:
All the Pope's homilies can be found at the Vatican's World Youth Day 2011 website.
My personal favourite quotations come from the first address he made on Thursday:
If you build on solid rock ... your life will be solid and stable (and) it will also help project the light of Christ shining upon those of your own age and upon the whole of humanity, presenting a valid alternative to all those who have fallen short...
(T)here are many who, creating their own gods ... take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment....
Dear friends:... build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ... Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others. They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe.
We truly have a great Pope. The world media can ignore the fact of 2,000,000 young people gathered for a Mass with an 84 year old head of a Church that - so they report - is losing members, but if these young people are truly rooted in Christ and firm in the faith, the Church is ripe for a great renewal.
Blessed John Henry Newman said that one of the sure signs of a true Development of Christian Doctrine is "Chronic vigour":
WE have arrived at length at the seventh and last test, which was laid down when we started, for distinguishing the true development of an idea from its corruptions and perversions: it is this. A corruption, if vigorous, is of brief duration, runs itself out quickly, and ends in death; on the other hand, if it lasts, it fails in vigour and passes into a decay. This general law gives us additional assistance in determining the character of the developments of Christianity commonly called Catholic.
When we consider the succession of ages during which the Catholic system has endured, the severity of the trials it has undergone, the sudden and wonderful changes without and within which have befallen it, the incessant mental activity and the intellectual gifts of its maintainers, the enthusiasm which it has kindled, the fury of the controversies which have been carried on among its professors, the impetuosity of the assaults made upon it, the ever-increasing responsibilities to which it has been committed by the continuous development of its dogmas, it is quite inconceivable that it should not have been broken up and lost, were it a corruption of Christianity. Yet it is still living, if there be a living religion or philosophy in the world; vigorous, energetic, persuasive, progressive; vires acquirit eundo; it grows and is not overgrown; it spreads out, yet is not enfeebled; it is ever germinating, yet ever consistent with itself. Corruptions indeed are to be found which sleep and are suspended; and these, as I have said, are usually called "decays:" such is not the ease with Catholicity; it does not sleep, it is not stationary even now; and that its long series of developments should be corruptions would be an instance of sustained error, so novel, so unaccountable, so preternatural, as to be little short of a miracle, and to rival those manifestations of Divine Power which constitute the evidence of Christianity. We sometimes view with surprise and awe the degree of pain and disarrangement which the human frame can undergo without succumbing; yet at length there comes an end. Fevers have their crisis, fatal or favourable; but this corruption of a thousand years, if corruption it be, has ever been growing nearer death, yet never reaching it, and has been strengthened, not debilitated, by its excesses.
Truly the Church is still vigorous. As Our Lord promised when he entrusted the keys to Simon Peter, the gates of the netherworld will never prevail against the Church. It will go through its storms but will always maintain its vigour.