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Madrid will be an experience unlike others

· Cardinal Bertone at Oropa presents the meaning of the World Youth Day ·

The following is a translation from Italian of excerpts from the homily which Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, delivered at Oropa-Biella, in Piedmont, his native region, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, Saturday, 6 August. He was speaking to those taking part in the diocesan pilgrimage of Ivrea to the Shrine of Our Lady of Oropa and presented the mandate for this year’s World Youth Day to young people.

“Madrid will be an experience unlike others. The World Youth Day is never merely a mass experience like the vast gatherings for sports or musical events that we often see on television. There is something in it that is profoundly different and beautiful”. Thus Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, presented a real spiritual manual to the throngs of young people from the Diocese of Ivrea at the Mass he celebrated for the Diocesan pilgrimage on Saturday, 6 August, the Feast of the Transfiguration. The nocturnal pil grimage to Piedmont's Shrine of Our Lady of Oropa ended with the mandate for the World Youth Day in Madrid, that will take place from 16 to 21 August.

In his homily Cardinal Bertone suggested the necessary coordinates to ensure that the young did not miss this splendid opportunity for development and growth. “You have been preparing yourselves for some time for a special experience: the World Youth Day in Madrid”, he said. “For many of you this World Youth Day will be your first opportunity to meet a multitude of young people of all languages and cultures, from all the continents”.

“In fact, it will not be a gathering of people on their own... as spectators at some important event. On the contrary, we shall all be united with the Pope, a guide and a visible sign of communion in the Church. And Pope Benedict will not merely address a discourse to us, like those with a social or political background. The Pope will speak to you, will speak to us of Jesus and will give us his presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He will point out to us the living Person of Jesus, he will ask us to stay with him, to be his friends, and will show us the right way to take on our journey through life so that we contribute to transforming the world”.

The Cardinal then spoke of the “context of the pilgrimage to Oropa, on the special day when the liturgy invites us to contemplate the mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord”. The Transfiguration recounted by the Evangelist Matthew is a source of inspiration for the World Youth Day in Madrid. The mandate is “an invitation to start out together with the entire Church in Jesus' footsteps. You too are called to climb the lofty mountain of faith, from which you can look at the world and daily life in a different, fresh way, recognizing the presence of God and of the Gospel in the routine of daily  life, at school, at home and at work”.

The Cardinal told the young people: “In Madrid you will have time to stop and think about life's major decisions. I know well that in your hearts is a dream of a life lived to the full, completely fulfilled. The mandate calls for a serious and consistent service to the Gospel on your part”. This spiritual journey is never taken alone and has a strong vocational dimension.

“You are and you will be”, Cardinal Bertone explained, “journeying on with the whole Church.... Do not be afraid to respond to the Lord’s call! For some of you the Day in Madrid may be an opportunity to discern God’s call. How many vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life have been born and have matured during the World Youth Days! May the Lord who knows you personally and who loves you also be able to show you what is expected of you”.

The Cardinal also offered the young people advice for life after the World Day. “The only thing that counts will live on: the presence of Jesus in your life. You will be nourished by his word and by the Eucharist. He will dwell in your heart as your faithful friend who never lets you down. And this will be the most beautiful gift you will take home with you”.

And Cardinal Bertone conveyed the affection, greeting and encouragement of Benedict XVI who, he said, in addition to looking forward to seeing you all in Spain, asks you to make the world of God your reference. As a spiritual thought for the pilgrimage, to instil in them the true meaning of hope and joy, he quoted the Pope’s words from his homily on the Epiphany this year: “The true star is the word of God which, amidst the uncertainty of human discourses, gives us the immense splendour of the Divine Truth.... Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the star that is the word of God, let us follow it in our lives, walking with the Church in which the Word has pitched his tent” ( L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 12 January 2011, p. 8).

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