‘Let the fire of faith enkindle the world,’ cardinal tells World Youth Day pilgrims

Photo by Sandor Benke/World Youth Day Krakow 2016 via Flickr

.- Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’s welcome to World Youth Day pilgrims on Tuesday had a stirring reminder: it is up to them to ensure that the Gospel of Jesus Christ reaches the world.

“Carry the flame of your faith and ignite with it other flames, so that human hearts will beat to the rhythm of the Heart of Christ, which is ‘a flaming fire of love,’” Cardinal Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow, said in his homily for the July 26 opening Mass of World Youth Day at the city’s Blonia Park.

“May the flame of love engulf our world and rid it of egoism, violence and injustice, so that a civilization of good, reconciliation, love and peace will be strengthened on our earth.”

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, including Pope Francis, are expected in Krakow for the global gathering of Catholic youth. St. John Paul II was archbishop of the city before becoming Pope in 1978. The cardinal served as a close aide to the Pope.

Cardinal Dziwisz reflected on what brought all the World Youth Day pilgrims together.

“We are all here because Christ has gathered us. He is the light of the world,” he said.

“Only He – Jesus Christ – is able to satisfy the deepest desires of the human heart,” he added. “It is He who has led us here. He is present among us. He is accompanying us like He accompanied His disciples headed for Emmaus. Let us entrust Him in these days our matters, fears and hopes.”

The cardinal urged the faithful to listen – and respond – to Christ’s questions about love, as he asked St. Peter after the Resurrection.

Cardinal Dziwisz said that “meeting with Jesus, we simultaneously realize that we all make up a great community – the Church – which surpasses the boundaries established by people and which divide people.”

Colorado pilgrims prepare to celebrate the opening Mass at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland. (Photo by Fabio Beretta/)

Colorado pilgrims prepare to celebrate the opening Mass at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland. During his homily, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz urged all of the young people in attendance from throughout the world to take what they gain from World Youth Day and, “Carry the good news about Jesus Christ to the world.”(Photo by Fabio Beretta/World Youth Day Krakow 2016 via Flickr)

“We are all God’s children, redeemed by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ,” the cardinal continued. “Experiencing the universal Church is a great experience associated with World Youth Day. The image of the Church depends on us – on our faith and sanctity. It is up to us to ensure that the Gospel reaches those who have not yet heard about Christ or have not learnt enough about Him.”

Cardinal Dziwisz challenged the pilgrims to share with each other “what is most valuable.”

“Let us share our faith, our experiences, our hopes. My dear young friends, may these days be an opportunity to form your hearts and minds,” he said.

He encouraged them to listen to bishops’ catecheses and to Pope Francis, and to participate in the liturgy wholeheartedly.

“Experience the merciful love of the Lord in the sacrament of reconciliation. Discover also the churches of Krakow, the wealth of the culture of this city, as well as the hospitality of its inhabitants and of those of neighboring towns, where we will find rest after a day’s rigors,” he urged.

“Krakow is alive with the mystery of Divine Mercy,” he said, referring to the visions and devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska, which were popularized by St. John Paul II.

The cardinal also reflected on the diverse backgrounds of pilgrims, who come from “every nation under heaven.”

“We come from such parts of the world where people live in peace, where families are communities of love and life and where young people can pursue their dreams,” he said. “But among us are also young people from countries whose people are suffering due to wars and other kinds of conflicts, where children are starving to death and where Christians are brutally persecuted. Among us are young pilgrims from parts of the world that are ruled by violence and blind terrorism, and where authorities usurp power over man and nations, following insane ideologies.”

“We bring to this meeting with Jesus during these days our personal experiences of living the Gospel in our difficult world,” Cardinal Dziwisz said. “We can face the challenges of the modern world, in which man chooses between faith and disbelief, good and evil, love and its rejection.”

He encouraged them to be messengers of good news, like St. John Paul II. They should return to their communities carrying “the spark of mercy” and remind everyone of the Beatitude, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

“Carry the good news about Jesus Christ to the world,” his homily concluded.

This story was reprinted with permission from Catholic News Agency. The original story can be found here.

COMING UP: Treasuring our youth

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Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, then Father Aquila, center, assists Saint Pope John Paul II with Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception during World Youth Day 1993 in Denver. (Photo by James Baca | Denver Catholic)

Can you imagine a sea of two million people gathered together in a field, united in prayer, in faith in Jesus Christ and energized by their encounters with one another? In a few short days, this will be the scene at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. If you are watching, you will see that faith and hope are alive in young people around the world.

At his papal inauguration ceremony, Pope St. John Paul II captured this well when he said to young people, “You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.”

That is why I have gone to every World Youth Day since the Toronto gathering in 2002. As I look ahead to Krakow, I’m reminded of how important it is for me as a bishop to encourage that joyful encounter with Christ, to challenge young people to live the Gospel and to support them in their encounter with the Lord.

In today’s world, the difference between the values marketed to young people and those of Christ is clear. When he met with youth in Rome for the diocesan level World Youth Day last year, Pope Francis highlighted those starkly contrasting messages.

“Dear young friends,” he said, “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever,’ because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”

Instead of giving in to the prevailing culture, the Holy Father urged young people to be “revolutionaries” who swim against the tide and who have “the courage to be happy.”

“I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love.”

Today we don’t hear enough about the good things God is doing. But at a World Youth Day gathering, the reality that he is at work in the hearts of many young people is readily apparent. There is no other way to explain the joyful, peaceful, inspiring stories of grace in action that are heard when young people return home.

But in order for those stories to continue after World Youth Day, our young people must be continually supported and encouraged. The future health of our Church and society depends upon courageous young people who are willing to reject the destructive ideas promoted by secular society, and encounter Jesus through prayer, the Scriptures, the sacraments and in vibrant, Christ-centered friendships.

A life-changing encounter with Jesus in Poland must not be the end of the Christian journey; in fact, for many of our youth, it will be a new beginning. And it is up to us—you and me—to receive our youth when they return from the mountaintop and teach them through our prayers and our lives how to integrate that new beginning into a rich lifetime of being one of Jesus’ disciples.

It is essential that we each ask ourselves: “How can I encourage the young Catholics I know to deepen the experience of Christ and his Church they had in Krakow?” And if the young people you know didn’t make it to World Youth Day, then look for ways to help them meet Christ and experience the joy of meeting others who are alive in their faith.

We are now over halfway done with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and this World Youth Day is taking place under the patronage of two saints of mercy—St. John Paul II and St. Faustina—with the theme, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”

During the first days of the gathering, I will do my best to ensure that the experience of World Youth Day is a lasting one by presenting on the three themes of mercy. I have always found it to be a great blessing to participate in this way as a bishop, teaching young people, and responding to their questions with the truth of Jesus Christ and our faith.

Please join me in praying through the powerful intercession of these two mercy saints that our youth will experience the mercy of the Father, and have the courage to reject the falsehoods and false freedoms presented by a culture that does not know Jesus as Lord. Let us pray that they, and all people throughout the world, will encounter the mercy of the Father revealed in the face of Jesus and become merciful like our Lord.