Pope during Saturday Vigil: “Your strength is stronger than the rain”

August 21, 2011

On Saturday evening, nearly two million young people greeted the Holy Father at Madrid’s Cuatro Vientos, where Pope Benedict XVI held a prayer vigil during World Youth Day.

At last, the Boston Globe finally posted some news about World Youth Day, via an AP report that quoted pilgrims talking about the “awesome number of people” gathered to celebrate their Catholic faith, but mentioned none of the words shared by the Pope.

The vigil and the comments by the Holy Father were interrupted by rain and wind, as described in this article.

Wind blows as Pope Benedict XVI leads a prayer vigil.

A VIOLENT storm forced Pope Benedict XVI to interrupt his speech at the weekend, sweeping off his skullcap, shaking the stage and drenching masses of pilgrims at a Madrid airbase.

As the heavens opened, an assistant tried to shelter the 84-year-old pontiff with a large white umbrella.

The Pope, his white hair blown into disarray, gripped a copy of his sodden speech, the pages and his vestments flapping in the wind.

A sea of pilgrims, by some reports more than a million, took shelter under large white and yellow umbrellas or danced in the rain.

After the storm had passed about 20 minutes later, Pope Benedict XVI said:

“Thank you for your joy and resistance. Your strength is stronger than the rain. Thank you. The Lord is sending us his blessings with the rain. With this, you’re leading by example.”

The pope then continued the vigil and after a few moments of silence and prayer, he blessed the roughly 2 million youths gathered there.

The pope then prayed for all the youths, entrusting them to the Heart of Jesus with a simple prayer.

This video clip shows the vigil and storm experience.

The Holy Father also exposed the Eucharist for Eucharistic Adoration.

Pope Benedict XVI holds the monstrance as he leads a prayer vigil at the Cuatro Vientos airport as part of World Youth Day festivities in Madrid Saturday.

Pope Benedict XVI holds the monstrance as he leads a prayer vigil at the Cuatro Vientos airport as part of World Youth Day festivities in Madrid Saturday. (Photograph by: Susana Vera, Reuters, Agence France-Presse)

Because of the storm, the Holy Father was not able to read most of his prepared comments.  Here they are:

Dear Young Friends,

I greet all of you, especially the young people who have asked me their questions, and I thank them for the sincerity with which they set forth their concerns, that express the longing which all of you have to achieve something great in life, something which can bring you fulfilment and happiness.

How can a young person be true to the faith and yet continue to aspire to high ideals in today’s society? In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus gives us an answer to this urgent question: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).

Yes, dear friends, God loves us. This is the great truth of our life; it is what makes everything else meaningful. We are not the product of blind chance or absurdity; instead our life originates as part of a loving plan of God. To abide in his love, then, means living a life rooted in faith, since faith is more than the mere acceptance of certain abstract truths: it is an intimate relationship with Christ, who enables us to open our hearts to this mystery of love and to live as men and women conscious of being loved by God.

If you abide in the love of Christ, rooted in the faith, you will encounter, even amid setbacks and suffering, the source of true happiness and joy. Faith does not run counter to your highest ideals; on the contrary, it elevates and perfects those ideals. Dear young people, do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.

Nowadays, although the dominant culture of relativism all around us has given up on the search for truth, even if it is the highest aspiration of the human spirit, we need to speak with courage and humility of the universal significance of Christ as the Saviour of humanity and the source of hope for our lives. He who took upon himself our afflictions, is well acquainted with the mystery of human suffering and manifests his loving presence in those who suffer. They in their turn, united to the passion of Christ, share closely in his work of redemption. Furthermore, our disinterested attention towards the sick and the forgotten will always be a humble and warm testimony of God’s compassionate regard.

Dear friends, may no adversity paralyze you. Be afraid neither of the world, nor of the future, nor of your weakness. The Lord has allowed you to live in this moment of history so that, by your faith, his name will continue to resound throughout the world. During this prayer vigil, I urge you to ask God to help you find your vocation in society and in the Church, and to persevere in that vocation with joy and fidelity. It is a good thing to open our hearts to Christ’s call and to follow with courage and generosity the path he maps out for us.

The Lord calls many people to marriage, in which a man and a woman, in becoming one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24), find fulfilment in a profound life of communion. It is a prospect that is both bright and demanding. It is a project for true love which is daily renewed and deepened by sharing joys and sorrows, one marked by complete self-giving. For this reason, to acknowledge the beauty and goodness of marriage is to realize that only a setting of fidelity and indissolubility, along with openness to God’s gift of life, is adequate to the grandeur and dignity of marital love. Christ calls others to follow him more closely in the priesthood or in consecrated life. It is hard to put into words the happiness you feel when you know that Jesus seeks you, trusts in you, and with his unmistakable voice also says to you: “Follow me!” (cf. Mk 2:14).

Dear young people, if you wish to discover and to live faithfully the form of life to which the Lord is calling each of you, you must remain in his love as his friends. And how do we preserve friendship except through frequent contact, conversation, being together in good times and bad? Saint Teresa of Jesus used to say that prayer is just such “friendly contact, often spending time alone with the one who we know loves us” (cf. Autobiography, 8).

And so I now ask you to “abide” in the adoration of Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. I ask you to enter into conversation with him, to bring before him your questions and to listen to his voice. Dear friends, I pray for you with all my heart. And I ask you to pray for me. Tonight let us ask the Lord to grant that, attracted by the beauty of his love, we may always live faithfully as his disciples. Amen.

English

Dear young people, in these moments of silence before the Blessed Sacrament, let us raise our minds and hearts to Jesus Christ, the Lord of our lives and of the future. May he pour out his Spirit upon us and upon the whole Church, that we may be a beacon of freedom, reconciliation and peace for the whole world.


World Youth Day: Cardinal O’Malley encourages youth to bring friends to Jesus

August 20, 2011

On Thursday of World Youth Day, Cardinal O’Malley gave a talk to 1,000 youth at the Church of San Antonio in Madrid. On Monday, he celebrated the Feast of the Assumption with Boston pilgrims in Toledo, Spain.

Below is the Catholic News Agency report on highlights from the Thursday catechesis by Cardinal Sean.

Cardinal O’Malley encourages youth to bring friends to Jesus

Madrid, Spain, Aug 18, 2011 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of

Boston has encouraged young people faithfully attend Sunday Mass and to bring their friends to Jesus Christ.

“We live in a culture that is addicted to entertainment but we don’t come to Mass to be entertained,” he told World Youth Day pilgrims at a morning catechesis session in central Madrid August 17.

“Our presence there, gathered as a family, is of crucial importance. It is at the Sunday Eucharist that we learn our identity as Christ’s family, where we witness to each other that we are believers and that we want to live as Jesus’ disciples.”

Cardinal O’Malley was addressing over 1,000 young English-speaking pilgrims who were crammed into the church of San Antonio. With pews at a premium, most of the young people had to make do with the marble floor.

Throughout his catechesis, the Archbishop of Boston likened the Church to a family – with the Eucharist at its heart.

“The Eucharist is Christ’s saving presence in our community. It’s our spiritual food. It’s the most precious possession which the Church has in her journey through history. It is God’s love taken to the extreme,” he said.

Cardinal O’Malley also emphasized how Sunday Mass is the “family meal” for Catholics which we should make sure to attend.

“The shortest book in the world is the Irish cookbook,” he joked, but his mother always insisted on family meals when he was growing up.

This morning’s catechesis session was only one of 220 being offered in 27 languages all over Madrid during a three-day stretch. The sessions are allowing young Catholics to be personally taught by some of the most senior bishops in the Church.

And it is through the Catholic Church, said Cardinal O’Malley, that young people “have the same opportunity to be with Jesus as they did 2,000 years ago.”

“Jesus established his Church and gave us the sacraments so that he will be able to touch our lives and not just the lives of those living 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land – so that he could be present everywhere in the world and for all times,” he said.

Cardinal O’Malley concluded by suggesting to the pilgrims that “there’s nothing more tragic than going through life without knowing how much we are loved by our family, our friends, by our God.” In order to prevent that from happening, he urged each of the youth to help bring their friends to Jesus Christ.

The example he gave was of the paralytic man in the Gospel of Matthew who was lowered through the roof by his friends in order to receive healing from Jesus.

“Isn’t that fantastic? Wouldn’t you like to have friends like that? Tell me?” the cardinal asked the young people, who responded with cheers and applause. “Well you have to be friends like that first!” he replied.

“Cardinal O’Malley’s words really made me proud to be a young Catholic and a member of the Catholic Church despite the persecutions you go through,” said 17-year-old Matthew McConnell form Kingston-upon-Thames, England to CNA afterward.

His friend, 16-year-old Caitriona Lowry also from Kingston-upon-Thames, nodded in agreement. “I thought it really interesting the way he related it all to family. It made it seem like the Church is a big community we’re all part of.”

An audio recording of his Thursday catechesis can be found at WYDMadridBoston.com.

ps. We have learned that BCI has been nominated in several categories for the Catholic New Media Awards.  To vote, visit this website, register with your email address, and cast your votes by Friday, August 26.  It would be an honor and privilege for BCI to be recognized for any of the categories in which we have been nominated.


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