Saturday, August 20, 2011

"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."

Abide in the love of Christ and you will persevere through the trials of life, including sudden rainstorms. Those dark clouds you see in the video later turned into a driving rain with strong winds, which prevented Pope Benedict from reading his entire homily to the estimated two million young people gathered for the prayer vigil, but did not dampen their spirits in the slightest.

This is the report from Vatican Radio --
Esta es la joventud del papa! This is the Pope’s youth!”, the chant erupted spontaneously from the multitudes as the winds and rain beat down upon them in the aptly named Cuatro Vientos airport, the airport of the Four Winds. After days of incessant and stifling heat, not even the tempest that interrupted the Holy Father mid-homily could quench the enthusiasm of Benedict XVI’s generation, an estimated 2 million strong on Saturday night.

“We know you were all out in the sun this afternoon and asking for more water...well here it is!” the young presenter announced. And as the Pope waited patiently seated before the giant altar for the storm to pass, organisers invited the jubilant pilgrims to pray for the rain to cease. Instead, their voices rose as one in a continuous chorus “This is the Pope’s youth!” and that chorus rang out across Madrid.

They had begun arriving mid morning, many on travelling the 24 kms to the airport on foot under a searing sun with temperatures hitting 40° Celsius. Madrid’s bomberos, on top of fire trucks, directing water hoses over the crowds in an effort to bring some relief.

The liturgy of the Word had just begun, following the procession of the World Youth Day Cross and icon. The five young people, from the UK, Kenya, the USA, the Philippines, and Germany had only just posed their questions to Pope Benedict when the storm begun, ripping the zucchetto from the Pope’s head.

Michael from the UK, a convert to Catholicism had asked the Pope who Christ really is and whether he was for all of humanity or only for Christians. Roselyne from Kenya, spoke of her work on behalf of the victims of famine in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and asked the Pope how can she help the poor and suffering understand that God has not forgotten about them. Robert from the USA, spoke of how he will marry in a month’s time and asked Pope Benedict for advice on how to faithfully live the vocation to marriage. Kirtzia from the Philippines spoke of how it was difficult at times to witness her faith in society, while the young German Kathleen, a non-believer attracted by the figure of Christ, asked for guidance.

Pope Benedict never got to pronouncing his homily, instead when the winds and rain had calmed, the Holy Father proceeded to pronounce his greetings to pilgrims in diverse languages and then left the raised altar to change vestments for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. As he left the stage, firemen clambered onto the scaffolding to ensure its safety, while the young people continued to chant.

The Pope emerged shortly afterwards, and once the crowds had quietened, invited the millions who had answered his call to join him in a night of Eucharistic adoration. As he knelt before the altar, the XVth century monstrance “Custodia di Arfe” from the Toledo Cathedral rose from centre of the stage to the clamour of two million voices, for the heat, the Pope, the rain. Then, silence descended on Cuatro Ventos.
When the rain finally relented, His Holiness said to the crowd, "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."

Liturgy of the Word

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love." (John 15:1-10)

Prepared Text of the Homily of Pope Benedict XVI
World Youth Day Prayer Vigil with Eucharistic Adoration

Cuatro Vientos Airport
August 20, 2011
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.

[French] Dear young French-speakers, be proud of the gift of faith which you have received, as it will illumine your life at every moment. Draw strength from the faith of your neighbours, from the faith of the Church! Through faith we are grounded in Christ. Gather with others to deepen it, be faithful to the celebration of the Eucharist, the mystery of faith par excellence. Christ alone can respond to your aspirations. Let yourselves be seized by God, so that your presence in the Church will give her new life!

[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.

[German] Dear young Christians from the German-speaking countries! Deep in our hearts we yearn for what is grand and beautiful in life. Do not let your desires and aspirations dissipate, but ground them in Jesus Christ. He Himself is the sure foundation, the point of reference, for building up your life.

[Italian] I now turn to the Italian-speaking young people. Dear friends, this vigil will remain as an unforgettable experience in your lives. Guard the flame which God has lit in your hearts tonight. Never let it go out, renew it each day, share it with your contemporaries who live in darkness and who are seeking a light for their way. Thank you! Until tomorrow morning!

[Portuguese] My dear friends, I invite each of you to enter into a personal dialogue with Christ, sharing with Him your hesitations and above all listening to His voice. The Lord is here and He is calling you! Young friends, it is good to hear within us the word of Jesus and to follow in His footsteps. Ask the Lord to help you to discover your vocation in life and in the Church, and to persevere in it with joy and fidelity, knowing that He never abandons you or betrays you! He remains with us until the end of the world.

[Polish] Dear young friends from Poland! This prayer vigil is filled with the presence of Christ. Grounded in His love, draw near to Him with the flame of your faith. He will fill your hearts with His life. Build your lives on Christ and on His Gospel. I willingly bless all of you.

Final Remarks of the Holy Father

Before taking his leave, Pope Benedict, inviting a group of young people onto the stage, bid the throng before him goodnight:
Dear young people, together we have experienced an adventure. Firm in the faith in Christ, you have resisted the rain! Before leaving, I want to tell all of you good night. Rest well. Thank you for the sacrifice you are making. And which I don't doubt you will offer generously to the Lord. We'll see each other tomorrow, God willing. I await you all. I thank you all for the marvelous example that you've given. Just like tonight, with Christ you will always be able to take on the tests of life. Never forget that! Thank you to all.

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