On World Youth Day
"It Was Like a Multicolored Mosaic"
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
On Monday I returned from Sydney, Australia, the site of the 23rd World Youth Day. I still have this extraordinary occasion, in which I experienced the youthful face of the Church, on my mind and in my heart: It was like a multicolored mosaic, formed by young men and women from every part of the globe, all gathered together in the one faith in Jesus Christ.
“Young pilgrims of the world” -- this is what the people called them, a beautiful expression that captures the essential in these international meetings initiated by John Paul II. These gatherings in fact form the stages of a great pilgrimage across the world, to show how faith in Christ makes us all children of one Father who is in heaven and builders of a civilization of love.
The awareness of the Holy Spirit, protagonist of the life of the Church and of each Christian, was characteristic of the meeting in Sydney. The long journey of preparation in the local Churches followed the theme of these words of the risen Christ to the apostles: “You Will Receive Power When the Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You and You Will be My Witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
On July 16-18, in churches of Sydney, the numerous bishops exercised their office, proposing catechesis in various languages: These catecheses were moments of reflection and recollection that were indispensable for making the event one that, instead of being a merely external manifestation, would leave a deep impression on the conscience.
The evening vigil, in the heart of the city, beneath the Southern Cross, was a choral invocation of the Holy Spirit; and at the end, during the large Eucharistic celebration last Sunday, I administered the sacrament of confirmation to 24 young people from different continents, 14 of whom were Australian, inviting all present to renew their baptismal vows.
In this way World Youth Day was transformed into a new Pentecost, from which the mission of the young people, called to be apostles to their contemporaries, was relaunched. They are following in the footsteps of many young saints and blessed,
in particular Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati, whose relics, brought to the cathedral of Sydney, were venerated by an uninterrupted pilgrimage of young people. Every young man and woman was invited to follow the example of the young saints and blessed, to share the personal experience of Jesus, who changes the life of his “friends” with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the love of God.
Today I would again like to thank the bishops of Australia, especially the archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal [George] Pell, for the extensive preparatory work and for the cordial welcome they offered me and all the other pilgrims. I thank all the Australian civil authorities for their precious collaboration. All those, in every part of the world, who prayed for this event, assuring its success, will certainly receive a special grace.
May the Virgin Mary dispense the most beautiful graces to everyone. I also entrust to Mary the period of rest that I will have beginning tomorrow in Bressanone in the mountains of Alto Adige. Let us remain united in prayer!