Against the festive backdrop of the stadium on Thursday morning, 2 February, Pope Francis deviated from his prepared speech, asking the crowd of some 65,000 young people and catechists filling the stands for two things: song and silence.
He asked everyone to sing together in order to highlight that a Christian is never alone, but experiences the adventure of the faith as part of a people, within a story and as part of a community: “You are part of a greater history, one that calls you to take an active role”. And a community, sings together.
The young Congolese community responded grandiosely, with overflowing and moving enthusiasm. All those present in that moment thought: “God is at work here. Miracles are possible here. Change is not a utopia but something that can really happen”.
And after the song, silence. A prayerful silence, to ask, give and receive forgiveness. The minute of silence the Pope requested was observed, though with difficulty, given the multitude’s overwhelming excitement, and everyone had the opportunity to forgive any offences received from others. “Forgiveness”, said the Pope, “means being able to start over”. This possibility of starting over is the concrete, palpable sensation that participants in Thursday morning’s encounter took home with them, as a seed and impetus for a present which is not trapped in the past but open to the future. (Andrea Monda)