· The President of the Bishops of England and Wales at a meeting with young people ·
Instead of turning to consumerism, look deep within yourselves in silence and prayer to open the door of the light to Lord. It was Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, who voiced this invitation to thousands of young people at the Flame National Youth Congress at Wembley Arena. The event, inspired by the Pope's Visit in 2010 to the United Kingdom and by the Olympics which will be held in the country this summer, enjoyed the warm participation of many youth organizations and several athletes, including participants in the past Olympic games and those who will participate this July.
The episcopate in Great Britain has launched a strong awareness campaign of educational values through sport. During the Visit of Benedict XVI in 2010 the “Pope John Paul II Foundation for Sport “was inaugurated, which promotes the teachings of Blessed John Paul II through sport. Archbishop Nichols underlined his support for the foundation at the inauguration which strives to use “sport to try and introduce to young and old alike the importance of health, the dignity of our bodies, the care of physical well-being and its spiritual meaning”.
The main moment of the encounter at Wembley Arena was eucharistic adoration, presided by the bishops, where they reflected on risks which come from the fragility of the youth in the face of various cultural patterns centred on external rather than internal gratification. “Today there are many voices in the media and in advertising”, he stated, “telling you what to wear, how to look, what size you should be, what clothes you should buy. And there is a risk that if we do not look like that, cannot afford to dress like that, somehow we are made to feel second class. That can lead us to think very negatively about ourselves”.
“It is good for you to know what the Catholic Church thinks of you, what Christ thinks of you. Let me tell you what that is: You are God-given, precious, loved and loveable. You do not need to conform to someone else’s image of perfection; instead, look deeply within, pray, discover and recognise your gifts and talents, and then live them” the Prelate affirmed. And these gifts and talents, he concluded - drawing on the Pope's words - will contribute to assuring that “your lives will bear abundant fruit for the growth of the civilisation of love”.
Also during the meeting the President of the Episcopal Conference called the attention to the youth to an image which further expresses this idea. “There’s a famous painting called ‘The Light of the World’”, he observed, “It shows Jesus holding a burning lamp, knocking on a closed door. At the first showing of the painting, the artist, Holman Hunt, when asked why the door had no handle, replied it was because the door on which Jesus knocks can be opened only from the inside”. That door, the Archbishop of Westminster added “is the door of our hearts. The Lord’s knocking upon our hearts isn’t the noise of one demanding entry, rather the enquiring knock of one seeking us out in gentleness and love”. The one who knocks is therefore “the light of the world, by which we see things as they truly are: ourselves, our actions, our neighbours, our family, our society, and our pathway ahead.”
Others, the Archbishop continued “try to cast a different light on all these things. There are some very bright lights around: blinding lights whose brightness stuns us, causing us to lose our sense of balance; strobe lights beguiling and seducing us with their rhythm and effects so that we lose our
inner self and become simply part of a mass movement”. But the light of Christ, he said, is “steady, warm, inviting. It’s a revelation, not a personal invention. It’s a gift offered from outside of us, yet longing to find a home within us, to penetrate the darkness we so easily sense within ourselves”.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 22, 2020
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