By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pope Benedict XVI sent a text message on Sept. 8 to everyone who participated in this year’s World Youth Day, marking 50 days since the closing Mass was celebrated in Sydney, Australia.
“Dear Friends, fifty days ago we were together for the celebration of Mass,” the text message read. “Today I greet you on the birthday of Mary, Mother of the Church. Empowered by the Spirit and courageous like Mary your pilgrimage of faith fills the Church with life! Soon I am to visit France. I ask you all to join me in praying for the young people of France. May we all be rejuvenated in hope.”
The Pope signed his message “BXVI.”
The messaging was sent via Xt3.com, a social networking site that was launched prior to WYD 2008 as a way for youth to stay connected during and after the event.
According to the Catholic News Agency, Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, also addressed the youth and encouraged them to search, seek and act.
“During our week together we experienced much joy and celebration, connection with a faithful fellowship of pilgrims, and unprecedented excitement and enthusiasm,” the cardinal said.
However, “This experience can be very difficult to sustain after you return to your home, parish, study and work,” he said. “It is not expected that you could continue in this state of celebration and nor is it feasible to stage the kind of events we hosted in Sydney everyday. However, it is possible – and very important – that we sustain our relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Cardinal Pell offered young people three suggestions for continuing and growing their relationship with Jesus.
He first asked pilgrims to search for Christ through prayer. “It is important to spend time in prayer, and seek the grace of the Holy Spirit that we learned so much about with our theme ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses’ (Acts 1:8). If you are not used to prayer, start with something simple each day, talk to your parish priest or prayerful people that you know.”
He then encouraged them to seek the Sacraments. “I encourage you to regularly seek out the Eucharist, the means in which our WYD Fellowship is held in Communion with Jesus Christ. You can also experience the power of the Holy Spirit through the mercy and compassion of forgiveness in the beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation. Seek your vocation and do not be afraid, for through this commitment we find life.”
Finally, he called on them to “Act; as the apostle you know you are. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that our life is not governed by chance. Our existence is not random – it has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose.
“Make use of your gifts and build the civilization of love starting with your family, friends and parish,” he encouraged everyone.
Cardinal Pell concluded his message by challenging the pilgrims to “Stay strong and keep close to the Lord!”
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