You did it again, dear participants in World Youth Days . . .
This was my sixth one. Before each of them, I debate, should I go? It’s so much trouble, travel, time; it will be unorganized and so jammed; there will be a lot of walking, waiting, and inconvenience . . . is it worth it?
Yes! Monday morning, home safe and secure, after a glorious week in Rio, yes! It was worth it!
You young people in Rio, you worked a miracle: you made me young again!
Our Catholic faith is “ever ancient, ever new.” At World Youth Days, you young people show us that the wise, tender, loving, grandmotherly Church, with teachings and traditions timeless, is also a dazzlingly beautiful young bride who enchants all of us.
In Rio I marveled at you: standing in line waiting for us priests to hear your confessions, that dramatic occasion of the conversion of heart we all crave;
Kneeling silently before the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist;
Singing and embracing as you walked for miles in wind, rain, and chill (it was their winter);
Attentive at the three catechetical sessions I was privileged to lead, thoughtful in your questions and testimonies, so joyful and reverent at Mass;
And you got stronger, more and more enthusiastic, instead of fatigued and bored: 1½ million lining the Holy Father’s motorcade that “welcome ceremony” on Thursday; swelling to 2 million for that moving Stations of the Cross Friday; a crescendo of 3 million for Saturday’s vigil and Sunday Mass.
Copacabana, the three mile stretch of stunning beach, Rio’s jewel. For carnivalé, Mardi Gras, it’s known for revelry and actions, I hear, less than noble. Last week, it was the scene of prayer, virtue, friendship, Christian discipleship, solidarity in values and searching, exuberance in cheering the man who simply described himself as an “old pilgrim” among the young, Pope Francis.
You raised none of the “issues” flowing from ideologies or problems in the Church: nothing about women’s ordination, priestly celibacy, same-sex marriage, the HHS mandate, even immigration or abortion.
You concentrated, not on issues, but on a Person: the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, your thirst for Him, your desire to know, love, and serve Him in His Church. He is the way, the truth, and a life! He is the answer to the question posed by every human life.
Today, back home, I’m tired, hoarse, coughing, sneezing, and out of clothes. But, I am young again in my faith . . .
. . . thanks to you, Young People of World Youth Days in Rio! See you at the next one.