Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pope to youth: "seek the Truth"

13 days ago, twelve of us from GW waited all day in the Madrid heat along with 500,000 other youth to see and hear from Pope Benedict XVI. It was quite an experience, one that none of us will ever forget. While it was tough, it was grace-filled. Most of us were reasonably close to where the Holy Father was; two in our group were very close (the pic at the bottom was taken by Amy, our campus minister). Here are some excerpts from what the Holy Father said to youth as World Youth Day began, courtesy of zenit.org:

Hundreds of thousands of Catholic youth from around the world have gathered in Spain's capital this week not simply to meet other like-minded young people, or even to see the Pope, but because they wish to hear the word of God, says Benedict XVI…

"Why has this multitude of young people come to Madrid?" the Holy Father asked. "While they themselves should give the reply, it may be supposed that they wish to hear the word of God, as the motto for this World Youth Day proposed to them, in such a way that, rooted and built upon Christ, they may manifest the strength of their faith."

"Many of them have heard the voice of God, perhaps only as a little whisper, which has led them to search for him more diligently and to share with others the experience of the force which he has in their lives," he continued. "The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations.

"They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption. They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life."

The Pontiff said that "with God beside them," young people will "possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected."

World Youth Day, Benedict XVI said, is a "special opportunity to gather together their aspirations, to share the richness of their cultures and experiences, motivate each other along a journey of faith and life, in which some think they are alone or ignored in their daily existence."

He stressed that faith-filled youth "are not alone," and that "many people of the same age have the same aspirations and, entrusting themselves completely to Christ, know that they really have a future before them and are not afraid of the decisive commitments which fulfill their entire lives."

…Words can be used for entertainment or information, but the words of Jesus have another purpose, Benedict XVI is telling youth in Madrid. The words of Christ are meant to reach the heart and take root.

The Pope arrived in Madrid today to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of youth who lined the streets in welcome. As many as 1 million are expected to participate in this 26th World Youth Day, which ends Sunday.

"There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral. They do not bring us to him and, as a result, Christ stays remote, just one voice among the many others around us which are so familiar," the Holy Father told the young people in an afternoon event at Plaza de Cibeles.

The Master, the Pontiff continued, teaches "not something learned from others, but that which he himself is, the only one who truly knows the path of man towards God, because he is the one who opened it up for us, he made it so that we might have authentic lives, lives which are always worth living, in every circumstance, and which not even death can destroy."

…"It is always a good thing to keep seeking," he told them. "Above all, seek the Truth, which is not an idea or an ideology or a slogan, but a person: Christ, God himself, who has come into our midst! You rightly wish to plant your faith in him, to ground your life in Christ. He has always loved you and he knows you better than anyone else. May these days so rich in prayer, teaching and encounters help you to rediscover this, so that you may love him all the more."

There will not be a great transformation in the Church starting tomorrow, admits Benedict XVI. Though there are a half million young Catholics gathered in Madrid to celebrate World Youth Day with the Pope, the "seeds" of this experience are like the seeds of the Gospel -- part is lost.

World Youth Day will be the "beginning of a friendship with God and with others." It will open them to a "universality of thought" and make them aware of a "common responsibility." So these days do give much fruit: "God's sowing is always silent; it does not appear in the statistics. … And we trust in this silent growth, and we are certain that, although the statistics do not say much about it, the Lord's seed really grows."

…"I would say that these WYDs are a sign, a cascade of light -- they give visibility to the faith, visibility to the presence of God in the world, and thus give the courage to be believers," he said. "Often, believers feel isolated in this world, somewhat lost. Here they see that they are not alone, that there is a great network of faith, a great community of believers in the world."

The Pope noted how World Youth Day fosters friendships that cross the borders of cultures and countries. "The birth of a universal network of friendship that unites the world with God is an important reality for the future of humanity," he affirmed, "for the life of humanity today."

He recommended seeing WYD as a sign and part of a great journey. "It creates friendships, opens borders, makes visible that it is beautiful to be with God, that God is with us," he said. And, "in this connection, we wish to continue with this great idea of Blessed Pope John Paul II."

"That is why it gives me great joy to listen to them, pray with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them," the Pope continued. "World Youth Day brings us a message of hope like a pure and youthful breeze, with rejuvenating scents which fill us with confidence before the future of the Church and the world."

"Of course, there is no lack of difficulties," he said. "There are tensions and ongoing conflicts all over the world, even to the shedding of blood."

"But, with all my heart," the Pontiff affirmed, "I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord. He did not spare himself in becoming one like us and in experiencing our anguish so as to lift it up to God, and in this way he saved us."

No comments: