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The ever-young face of the Church

· The upcoming day in Madrid ·

World Youth Day 2011 (WYD 2011) from August 16-21st, will transform Madrid into a place from which to show the world the always youthful face of the Church, especially during the days when the Pope will join more than a million young people from all over the world in the Spanish capital.

The immense number of participants at the encounter make it one of the great world events, from a human point of view, as well as from a media point of view, uniting all of the ingredients of modern communication, including the use of new technology.

It is precisely the logic of modern communications which makes such mass gatherings even more necessary: to show in a public setting, the meaning of the Church in an increasingly complex world context. A world in which the Church possesses the most important message and mission: that entrusted to it by its founder, Jesus of Nazareth before ascending to heaven and which makes it, for that reason, the most devoted protector of the human being.

These ecclesial events, at once massive and personal, are especially opportune at a time which the public square claims to be occupied exclusively by those who, in a real exercise of secular “confessionality,” wave the flag of a society without God and thus without the Church. Against every sense of democracy, they rush to relegate believers to the internal forum of conscience and the private and it bothers them all the more when the Church, which they thought was antiquated and in decline, shows itself to be universal, vigorous, happy and young.

But the Church is always young. “So felt the Council Fathers,” recalled Benedict XVI to the Brazilian bishops (East) in his last Ad Limina visit – when at the end of the Second Vatican Council, they presented the Church in these terms: ‘Rich with a long past ever living in her, and marching on toward human perfection in time and the ultimate destinies of history and of life, the Church is the real youth of the world…Look upon the Church and you will find in her the face of Christ, the genuine, humble, and wise Hero, the Prophet of truth and love, the Companion and Friend of youth.’ (Message of the Second Vatican Council to Youth). Allowing the face of Christ to shine, the Church is the youth of the world.”

For this reason, in a few days the city of Madrid will be transformed into a “youthful Pentecost” in which this great representation of Catholic world youth, accompanied by nearly one thousand bishops, and thousands upon thousands of priests, will come together with the Holy Father, Benedict XVI – as the first Christians did around the apostle St. Peter, recounted in the Acts of the Apostles – to profess together their faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God Incarnate, and to renew their evangelizing commitment to transform the world.  This is the real objective of WYD, expressed in its motto: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.” (Cfr. Col 2:7)

At the center of this grandiose and youthful scene, always surprising and new, Benedict XVI will take this magnificent opportunity to reiterate his call to the essential fact of the faith, as Simon Peter, the first Pope did: salvation offered by a merciful God through his Son, Jesus Christ.

The testimony and homilies of Benedict XVI in Madrid will give young people the necessary answers of the faith for their deepest longings, showing them to be ever new – always modern! – for the concrete life of today and tomorrow. In his teaching – always full of positive sentiment – the Holy Father will not excuse young people from making an effort to reach the ultimate reasons of faith accompanied by the illumination of divine revelation.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, young people all over the world continue to find in the successor of Peter a true maestro of faith and humanity, as happened in the beginning to the first Christians with the old fisherman of Galilee. Now it is up to young people to follow Jesus Christ, as the Pope always exhorts, and cast their nets…History repeats itself in the Church that is always young.

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