Opening Mass of WYD 2011 in Madrid. Greeting by card. Ryłko to the young people
Plaza Cibeles, 16 August 2011
Dear young people,
The day we have all been waiting for has arrived: the inauguration of the 26th World Youth Day. After a long path of preparation you are finally here in Madrid, a beautiful modern city that will be the world capital of Catholic youth for the next few days...
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Ps. 118: 26). With the words of the psalmist I extend a cordial welcome and affectionate greeting on behalf of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the department of the Holy See entrusted by the Pope with the organisation of world meetings of young people. I also greet your bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders who have come here with you and have guided you on your journey of spiritual preparation for this great adventure of faith that we shall experience together for the next few days.
You have come to this meeting with the Holy Father Benedict XVI bringing with you all your plans and hopes, as well as your concerns and apprehensions about the choices that lie ahead. These will be days that you will never forget, days of important discoveries and decisions that will be decisive for your future.
Our reflection and prayer over the next few days will be guided by the words of Saint Paul that you know so well: “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf Col 2:7). This is very demanding because it contains a definite life plan for each one of us. Faith will be at the centre of our reflection at this time. Faith is a decisive factor in each person’s life. Everything changes according to whether God exists or not. Faith is like a root that is nourished by the lifeblood of the word of God and the sacraments. It is the foundation, the rock on which life is built, the dependable compass that guides our choices and gives clear direction to our lives.
Many of us might wonder: in our world today where God is often rejected and people live as if God did not exist, is it still possible to have faith?
Dear young people! You are gathered here in Madrid after having come from the most remote corners of the planet. You have come to say aloud to the whole world – and in particular to Europe which is showing signs of being very lost – your unwavering “yes”! Yes, faith is possible. It is in fact a wonderful adventure that allows us to discover the magnitude and beauty of our lives. This is because God, revealed in the face of Christ, does not put human beings down. God exalts us beyond all measure and beyond our wildest imaginings! For the next few days, together with the apostles, we all want to shout aloud to the Lord: “Increase our faith!” (Lk 17:5). Like Saint Anselmo, we too want to pray: Lord, “Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me as I seek, because I can neither seek you if you do not teach me how, nor find you unless you reveal yourself (Proslogion 1:1).
As we await the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI, we have welcomed a special guest this evening to WYD in Madrid. Blessed John Paul II has come back to you, the young people that he loved so much, and who was equally loved by you. He has returned as your blessed patron and as a protector in whom you can trust. He has returned as a friend – a demanding friend, as he liked to call himself. He has come to say to you yet again and with much affection: Do not be afraid! Choose to have Christ in your lives and to possess the precious pearl of the Gospel for which it is worthwhile giving everything!
Dear young people!
The 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid has begun!
Once again I say to you: welcome to you all to Madrid!
Concluding words addressed by card. Ryłko to the Holy Father
Cuatro Vientos, 21 August 2011
We have come to the climax of the 26th World Youth Day here in Madrid. You have before you, Your Holiness, young people who have come from all kinds of places around the planet. It is a young Church, full of joy and the enthusiasm of faith. These young people are proud to belong to Christ and the Church. This is very definitely a “generation that seeks God” (cf. Ps 24). The young people who have been in Madrid for the past few days have made a choice to really live as Saint Paul said, “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf Col 2:7).
Holy Father, these young people always find in you a real father who loves them, and a teacher of the faith. You are a guide that they can depend on and you teach them never to lose sight of something that is essential for life, and that is God – God who was manifest in the face of his Son who became human like us for our salvation. Thank you, Holy Father, for always reminding us that “something is missing from the equation when God is subtracted. Something does not add up for humankind, the world, the whole universe” (Regensburg, 12 September 2006). Thank you for the precious gift of Youcat which the young people found in their pilgrim backpacks, and for your fatherly words of encouragement: “Study this Catechism with passion and perseverance [...] You need to know what you believe [...] you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination” (Foreword to Youcat).
Now, as we come to the end of this wonderful time that we have spent in Madrid, these exuberant young people wish to assure Your Holiness of their filial devotion and gratitude. Thank you for having presided over this World Youth Day! Thank you for the words of hope that you have addressed to these young people that will be a light for them on the road ahead.
As we stand together with Your Holiness as the Successor of Peter, we also wish to say thank you once again to Blessed John Paul II for the gift of World Youth Day. It already has a history of over 25 years. How many lives have been changed in that time! How many vocations have been answered! How many fruits of holiness have resulted!
Holy Father, the time has come for something that we have been waiting for: the sending out on mission. As we conclude World Youth Day 2011, all the young people here present are ready to go forth from Madrid and out to the whole world, sent forth by Your Holiness as apostles of the new evangelisation. Each of them has received a small missionary cross that Your Holiness is about to bless. This cross should remind them always of the important assignment they are receiving today to take it out to the world as a sign of the love of Our Lord Jesus for humanity, proclaiming to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose again, that there is salvation and redemption.
Holy Father, bless these young missionaries who are “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”, and who are ready to go and witness to their faith right to the ends of the earth!
Thank you, Holy Father!