Our correspondant Emer McCarthy has been following events in Madrid and reports on the concluding moments of this visit:
It was only a four day visit. But it made a world of difference. First and foremost to those millions who had answered Pope Benedict XVI’s call not to be ashamed of the Lord, to be the ‘apostles of the 21stcentury’. As they boarded buses, trains and planes for the long journey home, tired, dirty and sun burnt, they were still smiling, still chanting that call that had echoed through the storm across Madrid on Saturday night “We are the youth of the Pope!”.
“Young people readily respond when one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ”, Pope Benedict XVI said as he prepared to board the papal plane at Barajas airport, on his journey to Rome. “Now those young people are returning home as missionaries of the Gospel…and – he added, speaking to the 800 bishops and thousands of priests and women religious who had accompanied the young people on this pilgrimage - they will need to be helped on their way”.
His last words of encouragement to that nation of youth: “There is no reason to lose heart in the face of the various obstacles we encounter in some countries. The yearning for God which the Creator has placed in the hearts of young people is more powerful than all of these”.
It was only a four day visit but it also made a world of difference to Spain, a country and a people, weary of the uncertainties born of the current economic and cultural crisis. This was visible not only in the press, which passed from front page reporting on the protests that had erupted on the eve of the Papal trip to the Pope’s call for ethics in political and social spheres to help overcome the crisis- but also among the people of Madrid, “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I probably never will again”, an elderly lady told me as we waited in line at a coffee shop.
The Pope’s parting words were of praise. “Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul”.
And of thanks, in particular to the army of 30 thousand young volunteers: “To love means to serve, and service increases love. For me, this is one of the finest fruits of your contribution to World Youth Day”.
The 26th edition of the largest gathering of youth on the planet, for those of us who watched it unfold before our eyes, leaves indelible images in its wake. Cibeles Square, first transformed into an open air party, the sheer noise of the young people’s voices as they welcomed the Pope. And again when that street party paused for the Way of the Cross, and the only sound that moved the still evening air was the haunting notes of an ancient Spanish prayer.
The majestic El Escorial, and the smile upon the Holy Father’s face, the ‘Professor Pope’, speaking of the ideal of the University to the next generation of teachers. The Jardines del Beun Retiro and the image of hundreds of priests young and old, representing a Babylon of languages, standing beneath the shade of trees long after public security had closed down access to the confessionals in the Festival of Forgiveness, to make sure that every last pilgrim, who so desired, could reconcile themselves to the Lord, as the sun set on Madrid.
The image of the Pope, in a midsummer storm, serenaded by the BXVI generation during Saturday’s prayer Vigil, and that same congregation of nations in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
For me, one image sums it all up: in essence, it reveals why they came in their millions to Madrid, to hear Pope Benedict’s message: that of a WYD poster with graffiti sprayed over it that read: “We are atheists”, and under this a reply, “You don’t know what you’re missing, we’ll pray for you”. This is the BXVI generation, they came, they heard and they understood, the apostles of the 21st century.
VATICAN.VA REPORT: On the occasion of 32.ma edition of the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples , which opened yesterday in Rimini on the subject: the existence and becomes a great certainty , the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent - on behalf of the Holy Father Benedict XVI - Message to the organizers and participants.
The Message, which is shown below, was read yesterday morning by Emilia Guarnieri, president of the Foundation sponsoring the event, before the opening Mass celebrated by Bishop's Meeting Lambiasi Francis, Bishop of Rimini:
August 10, 2011
To His Excellency
Mons Francis Lambiasi
Bishop of Rimini
This year I am happy to convey the cordial greetings of the Holy Father to Your Excellency, the organizers and all participants in the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples , held this week in Rimini. The theme chosen for the 2011 edition - "And there becomes a huge certainty" - there are several deep questions: What is existence? What is certain? And above all: what is the foundation of certainty without which man can not live?
It would be interesting to get rich in thought and philosophy, from its very beginnings, has developed around the experience of existence, of being, leading to important conclusions, but often contradictory and incomplete. We can, however, be sent directly to the essential starting Latin etymology of the term existence: former sistere . Heidegger, interpreting it as a "non-permanence," he pointed out the dynamic character of human life. But former sistere evokes in us at least two other meanings, more descriptive of human existence and that, in a sense, are the source of dynamism analyzed by Heidegger. The particleformer makes us think of a source and at the same time, a detachment. The lifetime is then a "feel, being descended from" and at the same time, a "move beyond", a "transcend" that defines permanently the same "feel". Here we encounter the most primitive level of human life: his creature, his being structurally dependent on a source, his being wanted by someone to which, almost unconsciously, tends. The late Msgr. Luigi Giussani, who with his charisma is fruitful source of Rimini event, has repeatedly insisted on this fundamental dimension of man. And rightly so, because it is derived from the consciousness of it that the certainty with which man faces there. The recognition of its origin and the "proximity" of the same origin to all the moments of existence is the condition for a real mature man of his personality, a positive outlook towards the future and a rich historical influence. This is an anthropological fact already verified in everyday experience: a child is all the more certain and secure the more experienced the closeness of the parents. But we understand that staying on the example of the child, alone, the recognition of its origin and, consequently, of its structural dependence is not enough. Indeed it may appear - as history has amply demonstrated - that a free weight. What makes "strong" the child is the certainty of parental love. Therefore, we need to enter in the love of those who wanted us to experience the positive existence. If either is missing, the conscience and the certainty of the origin of the destination asset to which man is called, it becomes impossible to explain the dynamism and deep understanding of human existence.Already in the history of the people of Israel, especially in the experience of the Exodus described in the Old Testament, emerges as the power of hope resulting from paternal presence of God who guides his people, the living memory of his actions on the light and the promise future.
Man can not live without certainty about their fate. "Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical. Spe Salvi , 2). But sure as to which man can reasonably establish its existence? What, ultimately, the hope does not disappoint ? With the advent of Christ's promise that fed the hope of the people of Israel achieves its fulfillment, takes on a staff. In Christ Jesus, man's destiny was definitively taken from the nebulosity surrounding it. Through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father has revealed definitively positive future that awaits us."The fact that this future exists changes the present and the present is touched by the future reality, and thus the things future spill over into the present and the present into the future" ( ibid., 7). Risen Christ, present in his Church, the sacraments and by his Spirit, is the ultimate and definitive meaning of life, the certainty of our hope. He is the ' eschaton already present, he who does the very existence of a positive event, a story of salvation in which all circumstances reveals its true meaning in relation to the eternal. Without this consciousness is easy to fall in the risk of current events, the sensationalism of the emotions, in which everything is reduced to the phenomenon, or despair, where every circumstance seems senseless. Then life becomes a frantic search for events, new passing, that in the end, are disappointing. Only the certainty that comes from faith allows man to live in this intense way and at the same time, to transcend it, seeing in it the reflection of eternity where time is ordered. Recognized only the presence of Christ, source of life and destiny of man, is able to awaken in us the nostalgia of Paradise and thus look forward confidently into the future, without fear and without false illusions.
The dramas of the last century have amply demonstrated that when the Christian hope is lost, ie when there is less certainty of faith and the desire of the "last things", the man is lost and becomes a victim of power, began asking questions about their lives those who can not give life. A faith without hope has caused the emergence of a hope without faith, worldly.
Today more than ever, we Christians are called to account for the hope that is within us , to testify in the world that '"over" without which all is incomprehensible. But this must be "born again" as Jesus said to Nicodemus, let regenerate from the sacraments and prayer, they discover in the bed of any true certainty. The Church, making present of eternity in time the mystery of God, is the subject proper of this certainty. In the ecclesial community pro-existence of the Son of God comes to us, eternal life in it, that all life is destined, becomes palpable right now. "Immortality Christian - stated at the beginning of last century Father Festugiere - has to be character of the expansion of a friendship." For what is heaven if not the final fulfillment of friendship with Christ and with one another? In this perspective, says the French religious, "no matter where you are after. The sky is really where is the Christ. So the heart that love does not want other joy than to live always with the beloved" . The existence, therefore, is not a blind procedure, but it is an approach to him who loves us. So we know where we are going towards who we are headed and this directs all existence.
Your Excellency, I hope that these brief thoughts may be helpful for those taking part in the meeting . His Holiness Benedict XVI wishes to assure everyone, with love, your in my prayers, hoping that the reflection of these days reinforces the certainty that only Christ can fully illuminate our human existence, the heart sends to you, the leaders and organizers of the event, as well as to all present, a special Apostolic Blessing.
I join a friendly greeting and I take this opportunity to confirm with distinct treat
Your Excellency Most Reverend
the Lord dev.mo
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,
Secretary of State of His Holiness