Sunday Closing Mass
Sunday, August 21, 2011
There is no reason to lose heart in the face of the various obstacles we encounter in some countries. The yearning for God which the Creator has placed in the hearts of young people is more powerful than all of these, as is the power from on high which gives divine strength to those who follow the Master and who seek in him nourishment for life. (Pope Benedict 16 in his farewell address of WYD 2011)

At times, the tide of secularism seems too great and the prominent voices of the culture too deafening an environment to hear the Gospel, but Pope Benedict assures us that we are hardwired for God in our human nature. We are made for Him; we desire the fullness of life; we seek to know the truth and desire to love and to be loved.

Certainly, as we get older we can choose to follow different paths and our hearts can become hardened and our minds dulled to the truth. Our own sinfulness leads us astray and blinds us to His light by which we are to guide our lives. While we can always repent and turn back to the Lord, the youth are in a period of their lives in which they are open and seeking answers to most profound questions of life. It is a special time of openness to God and hopefulness for the future.

After our coverage of WYD ended on Sunday evening, Fr. Miguel and I walked down to an American Diner and had some celebration milkshakes. Afterwards, I went into a church near our hotel. An evening Mass was finishing, and there was some young people there from WYD. One of them, a teenager, came up to me and asked in broken English, Are you a priest? I told him that I was, and then he said, fumbling for the words, I need eat.. the Eucharist.

Many of the young people at the closing Mass were not able to receive communion because the communion stations got damaged by the storm, so they were told to go back to their parishes near where they were staying and receive communion there after Mass. I went and found the pastor to give the young man communion. But I was struck powerfully by the young mans sincerity, and my own role as a priest to provide him with the Eucharist.

There is work to be done, and the flame of desire for God cannot be extinguished from the hearts of young people. Certainly, our culture works against it, our fallen human nature deters us, but that longing for something more is still there. It is there in the hearts of every generation, and I convinced that one of the devils greatest tactics is to convince us that the battle is lost, that there is no use in trying, and that we are to give up in our efforts at evangelization.

I believe that John Paul II has invigorated the entire church with his legacy of World Youth Days. The young peoples enthusiasm and generosity in giving themselves to the Lord, infects us all. How can we not be moved to see young people coming to believe in the Gospel? To see the Gospel and the sacraments take root in their hearts gives us a new confidence in the Churchs message. It stirs us to evangelize, to share something of what we ourselves have been given, and to believe that young people are awaiting our encouragement and guidance. In Spain, we spoke to many young people who were actively involved in spreading the faith back home in their communities. Participating in this mission to spread the faith renews the Church, and to see the young people respond to Gospel should give us a renewed hope in sharing what we have received. Gods Word continues to be planted in hearts of young people and making them strong, firm in the faith! (Col. 2:7)

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