Joliet, Ill., Jul 23, 2013 (CNA) - Father John Belmonte noticed two things about the millennial generation – they were scarce in the pews, and they were always on their smartphones.
Since many millennials – people ages 18-34 – are now young parents, Father had an idea to bridge the gap by “evangelizing, education, and re-engaging” this demographic through the “We Parent More” app.
“We wanted to make it a technological piece in the new evangelization,” Father Belmonte said.
The app has six different buttons which include information on the Catholic faith, blogs from young Catholic parents, Mass and confession times for parishes across the United States, and games for kids.
Parishes can also subscribe to the app and use it as “an electronic, updated bulletin” to provide parents with information about church happenings at the local level.
“We’re not reading parish bulletins anymore,” Father Belmonte said, “This generation is really living on their smartphones. We need to reach out to them at this really key moment in life.”
Users of the app started locally in the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., where Father Belmonte serves as Superintendent of Catholic schools. Numbers quickly grew to 1,200 users, from parishes across the country, from Anchorage, Alaska to Atlanta, Ga.
So far, the app has received positive reviews.
“Our analysis of the usership shows our users are on the app an average of 18 minutes a day, which is a significant amount of time,” Father Belmonte said, “People see the need for it and understand the need for the application.”
As the word gets out, Father Belmonte hopes more and more parishes and pastors take advantage of the app with the goal of keeping parents connected and most importantly keep them coming to Mass.
“One of the taglines is, ‘Get off your app and go to Mass,’” Father Belmonte said, “We’d really like to see more of this demographic (at church).”
To learn more, visit: www.weparentmore.org.
Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Drawing on Sunday's reading about Abraham's hospitality to his three visitors, Archbishop José Gomez taught during a Mass in recognition of immigrants that “God comes to us in the person of the stranger.”
“Abraham, in the first reading, receives the strangers with an open heart… Abraham doesn’t know that these three visitors who come to his tent in the heat of the day are from God. But he does know that every person is made in the image and likeness of God,” the Los Angeles archbishop preached during his July 21 homily.
“For Judaism, hospitality and care for the stranger are a sacred duty. The same thing is true for Christianity. In the letters of the apostles we read: 'Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have uknowingly entertained angels.'”
The Mass, held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, was said in recognition of all immigrants and in support of immigration reform that is both just and compassionate. It was attended by more than 3,000 people, including Congressmen and Calif. state legislators.
The homily was given partially in English, partially in Spanish.
Archbishop Gomez thanked those involved in bringing justice to the American immigration system, and added that there are times for both politics and prayer, but that “prayer should always come first, before our political action.”
He encouraged Catholics to act as “a people who know the truth – that we are all God’s children.”
“We don’t get our dignity from having the proper documents or the right paperwork. Our human dignity comes from God. “
The archbishop noted that this understanding of the dignity of the human person, the recognition that “all men and women are created by God – with equal dignity, rights and freedom” is a vital part of the United State’s heritage.
“Our country has always been a nation of immigrants,” the Archbishop said in Spanish, adding that “America has always made room for people from many cultures, speaking different languages, with different beliefs, customs and traditions.”
He described this role the United States has played as “a golden door that opens for those searching for a better life for their families.”
“That’s what we’re working for in our politics. That’s what we’re praying for today.“
He also reminded the faithful that the immigration debate is “about souls not statistics,” but about the family, about the human person.
“We are talking about mothers and fathers who without warning won’t be coming home for dinner tonight, who may never see their families again,” Archbishop Gomez entreated.
The topic of immigration is also about Christ, Archbishop Gomez said. Pointing to the day’s Gospel reading on Mary and Martha, the archbishop noted that through reflection on the scriptures “we are aware that in his human life Jesus was always a stranger. “
“Jesus made himself a stranger for us,” the archbishop explained, to “teach us how to love our neighbor.”
“He taught us to meet Him – to find God in the poor, prisoners, immigrants. Because they are the weakest in society. Because they are the most in need of our protection and our care.”
“Jesus said God will judge us by our love for him in the least of our brothers and sisters. So immigration is not only a matter of politics,” Archbishop Gomez said. “It’s a matter of our relationship with God.”
Bangkok, Thailand, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis' encyclical “Lumen Fidei” is notable for exploring the “valuable richness” of faith and for being an “answer to the present challenges to faith,” according to the Archbishop of Bombay.
“Lumen Fidei” is a “challenge to us not to take our faith for granted, but to understand our faith, to live it ethically, and proclaim it confidently,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias told CNA July 22.
Cardinal Gracias appreciated Pope Francis' “down to earth, direct approach,” as shown in his statement that the encyclical was “written by four hands.”
The encyclical has the “theological depth” and insights of Benedict XVI as well as the “direct approach” of Pope Francis, making concrete examples to form direct appeals to people of God.
“I think the combination has been excellent (in) the depth, clarity and appeal” of the document.
While the encyclical is addressed to all the faithful, Cardinal Gracias examined it in the light of his Asian context, linking it to Blessed John Paul II's 1999 apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia,” which promoted a “great harvest of faith” on that continent.
“Lumen Fidei” is addressed to the “universal” Church, Cardinal Gracias said, and each diocese is called to pastorally “apply” the teaching of the Bishop of Rome to its “particular” situation.
The cardinal indicated that the years between Blessed John Paul II's apostolic exhortation to Asian Catholics and the present Holy Father's encyclical letter have been the occasion of a “reawakening,” a call to rediscover the richness of the faith in Asian cultures.
“I think everything links up beautifully with 'Ecclesia in Asia,' which speaks of the richness of faith in the Asian context and the challenges to us to make an Asian response.”
Cardinal Gracias said that Benedict XVI's call for a “deepening” of our faith has been served by his successor's encyclical, which has helped in really “understanding” the “richness” of the light of faith in the midst of darkness, and in showing how the values of the Gospel can be the “answers to our problems.”
There is a “cry against corruption,” a cry for “good governance” and an “attitude of servant leadership” all over the world, Cardinal Gracias reflected, adding that “Lumen Fidei” is an effort to inculturate the light of faith so as to let the Gospel form better societies.
“This is evangelization,” he said, “understanding the faith, living the faith, and proclaiming the faith.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Monday to a jubilant welcome that at times involved crowds swarming the popemobile, but rather than frightening him, the display of affection made him quite happy.
“The Pope is very happy with the way Rio has expressed enthusiasm and love for him,” said the Holy See’s press office director, Father Federico Lombardi.
“Many people have asked if there were big problems in the trip from the airport to the palace of Guanabara, but it was an extraordinary experience of the people’s enthusiasm,” he added.
Fr. Lombardi spoke July 22 at the World Youth Day media center at Copacabana beach during a 7:45 p.m. press conference.
“The Pope’s secretary told me that when the car was stopped, he was scared at times, but the Pope was very happy and waving,” he remarked.
Fr. Lombardi admitted that there was “a moment of difficulty in which the car took a different turn than planned,” but he said in the end there were no concerns about security.
The only change to the Pope’s itinerary came on the final leg of his journey from the Guanabara Palace when he took a helicopter trip “to avoid demonstrations.”
“The Pope’s trip on the airplane was great, it was a beautiful and cordial encounter between him and the journalists that were all able to speak with him personally,” Fr. Lombardi said.
According to the Italian priest, the Pope made two points during his brief remarks to journalists on the plane.
“He said his personal perspective of World Youth Day is to not see it as something isolated from the rest of society,” said Fr. Lombardi. “He said young people should always be seen in a bigger concept of society.”
Pope Francis emphasized that both young and old are necessary for society because “young people have the strength, but they need the advice of the elderly, who have wisdom.”
“I spoke last week to the Pope about this meeting with the journalists and he said that he would tell them about the importance of youth in society, which is exactly what he said,” the Vatican press office director said.
The importance of united young and old was also on the Pope’s mind when he made an unannounced visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, just two days before his trip to Brazil.
“He prayed for the youth and the elderly also when he prayed at Santa Maria Maggiore before coming to Rio, which shows that they are very important elements for him,” Fr. Lombardi explained.
The theme of moving away from a disposable culture, a “throwaway culture” to a culture of inclusion was also present in the Pope’s first speech, he added.
“Pope Francis is also asking for journalists to help young people and to help him in this event,” said Fr. Lombardi.
The director of the Holy See’s press office also noted the Pope has a “tremendous amount of energy.”
“The talk he gave at the presidential palace was very personal because he spoke of the great heart of the Brazilian people,” he noted.
Fr. Lombardi stressed that the Brazilian president told the pontiff she had been very impressed with his speech at the Italian island of Lampedusa – an island that has been flooded with Africans fleeing hardship or conflict.
The importance of Mary for Pope Francis was another element of the trip to Rio and of the pontiff’s personal spirituality that Fr. Lombardi highlighted for journalists.
“He has a great Marian devotion because when World Youth Day was organized, he ordered the organizer to have included a visit to Our Lady of Aparecida,” he said.
Pope Francis will be resting after his 12-hour flight and enthusiastic reception until Wednesday morning, when he will visit the national shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA) -
After arriving last night by helicopter at Laranjeiras Stadium, the home of the Fluminense Soccer Club, Pope Francis received a personalized jersey and blessed the famous Brazilian soccer team.
The Pope, in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day and on his way to Guanabara Palace yesterday to meet with President Dilma Rousseff, received the jersey from team vice president Alexey Dantas. A smiling Francis thanked him in Spanish for the gift.
“It’s a great thrill and an honor to greet the Pope here at the home of the Fluminense. Now more than ever this ground is sacred and blessed,” Dantas said.
Fluminense fans are known for chanting the song “À Benção João de Deus,” or “A Blessing, John of God,” written when Pope John Paul II visited Brazil in 1980. The song has become a trademark for the team during winning games.
World Youth Day will take place in Rio from July 23 - 28, during which Pope Francis will be staying in a modest residency, visiting a slum and traveling without his popemobile.
Washington D.C., Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A law in the Gaza Strip segregating classrooms by sex threatens the existence of Christian schools in the territory, according to the head of a Franciscan group that supports Christians in the Holy Land.
In April, the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian territory on Israel's western border passed a law banning co-education for children above the age of nine. It also ensures that teachers and other staff are of the same sex as students.
“The goal is not integration but co-existence … and this recent ruling does not make that easy,” Father Peter Vasko, president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, said of the relations between Muslims and Christians in Gaza.
The Gaza Strip has been ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas since 2007. Of the territory's population of nearly 1.7 million, only 3,000 are Christians.
The ban on co-ed classrooms, due to take effect in September, will primarily affect Christian schools in the area. Most public schools, as well as those operated by the United Nations, are already sex-segregated according to Al Jazeera.
The law effectively threatens Christian schools in Gaza because of the prohibitive costs they will have to incur to provide for a substantial expansion in the number of classrooms and teachers.
“Having to close schools that are there for the very reason not only to educate but to encourage peace and cooperation among the various groups is very counterproductive,” Fr. Vasko said in a July 18 statement.
The statement added that the new law is “yet another threat to Christians in the Holy Land already under extreme pressure by both Israeli and Palestinian rule.”
Fr. Vasko said the co-existence of Muslims and Christians in the Gaza Strip means “we have to learn that each has their own identity but at the same time building positive relations together” and that “closing any Christian schools in the area would be a serious loss.”
Christians run five schools in the Gaza Strip, three of which are Catholic. Most of the students in the schools are Muslim.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem educates more than 1,000 Gazan children in their two schools in the territory, and the Rosary Sisters run another Catholic school in Gaza.
“We don't have the space and we don't have the money to divide our schools,” Fr. Faysal Hijazin, education director for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told the Catholic Herald last month.
“This will be a big problem.”
Westminster, England, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic bishops in the United Kingdom offered their congratulations and prayers for Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, upon the birth of their first son, the Prince of Cambridge.
“The birth of the new prince will be a source of joy not only for the royal family but for the peoples of the United Kingdom and beyond,” Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said July 23.
“I assure their royal highnesses of the prayers and best wishes of the Catholic Church in England and Wales for their new family.”
The baby boy was born Monday afternoon at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. His name has not yet been announced.
“May Our Lord Jesus Christ bless and protect them, and may the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph intercede for them,” Archbishop Nichols said.
San Bernardino, Calif., Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The priest who sparked the international expansion of faith-based marriage enrichment retreats, Fr. Chuck Gallagher, passed away July 21 at the age of 85 in New Jersey.
“He taught us so much about loving each other, loving the world and how to be better people,” Diane Baumbach, who attended a Marriage Encounter weekend with her husband in 1973 said.
“He’s just been so important in our lives,” Mrs. Baumbach told CNA July 22. “We think his memory and legacy will be with us for centuries.”
Her husband, Dick, agreed while adding that “I just think that another saint has truly gone to heaven – the miracle that happened on this earth in marriages by Fr. Chuck’s determination and vision and guidance, will last forever.”
The Baumbachs were so moved by their weekend that they eventually began working for the organization with Fr. Dick Morse as the North American Weekend Pillar team.
“The weekend had such an impact on us that it not only changed our lives, but it also changed our children’s lives. His vision and his looking at the future helped us to become a better couple,” Mr. Baumbach said.
The couple said that without Fr. Gallagher’s vision and determination to expand the movement, they are “not sure we would have continued working on (our marriage).”
Although Spanish priest Fr. Gabriel Calvo is recognized as the founder of the Marriage Encounter
weekend, Fr. Gallagher is known for taking the retreat to an international level.
Fr. Gallagher attended a Marriage Encounter weekend in 1968 and decided to expand it by it to a broader level. One year later in 1969, he and two other priests and couples had presented 22 weekends in the New York area.
Over the next few years, the weekend retreats had become so popular that they spread across the United States and into Canada. By the mid-1970s, priests and couples had moved as far away to Australia in order to offer the retreats.
Along with his work for the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Fr. Gallagher was an author and developed other programs to help individuals as well as couples navigate through life’s challenges.
Each Marriage Encounter weekend offers couples time away from the busyness of daily life to focus on their relationship as husband and wife. It provides tools for creating and maintaining a strong marriage and is updated frequently to keep up with challenges that modern society presents.
The Worldwide Marriage Encounter is now in nearly 100 countries and has helped millions of couples all over the world strengthen their marriages.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The boy who greeted the Holy Father upon his arrival in Brazil said he could not find the words to describe what it was like to be so near the Successor of Peter.
“It’s very emotional – I have no words,” nine year-old Gustavo Silva Clemente told CNA July 22 shortly after greeting Pope Francis at Galeao Air Force Base in Rio de Janeiro.
Wearing a rosary around his neck, the young boy presented the Pope with flowers as part of the welcoming ceremony for the Holy Father on his first trip back to Latin America since his election.
Gustavo seemed very excited but, overcome with emotion, was unable to say anything else.
The child’s mother, Ana Lucia Silva Clemente, who looked on as her son greeted the Pontiff, said she hopes his trip will bless Brazil and its young people.
“I also hope that Pope Francis’ trip brings peace, hope and joy to all of us who need it very much,” she said.
After his departure from the air base, swarms of faithful crowded Pope Francis small car to the point where he was unable to pass. From an aerial view, thousands of people could be seen running and crowding along the boulevard in hopes of catching a glimpse, or even touching, the Pope.
Security guards, some even hanging out the car’s window, struggled to keep the crowds back, though Pope Francis was all smiles and seemed peaceful among the frenzy around him.
The Holy Father has traveled to Brazil to participate in World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. The event, which officially begins July 23, will conclude with an open-air Mass on July 28 as well as the announcement for the next location for the international youth pilgrimage.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Held at each World Youth Day as an opportunity to provide formation for participants, the three catechesis sessions in Rio will delve into the Church’s missionary character, said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.
This year’s talks will explore “beautiful themes” centered around the call of all Christians to evangelize, the cardinal told CNA on July 23.
Pilgrims will be divided up into language groups on the mornings of July 24-26 for catechesis, one of the major teaching elements of World Youth Day.
Over 250 bishops from around the world will be leading the catechesis sessions, stationed at different locations throughout the city.
The sessions offer a chance for prayer and reflection, as well as talks by the bishops to more deeply explore the World Youth Day theme, “Go and make disciples among all the nations” (Mt 28:19).
Each catechesis session will also include a question-and-answer period with the youth, Mass and confessions.
Topics for each day are predetermined, Cardinal Dolan said, and this year they include hope and the thirst for God, discipleship and mission.
While he is looking forward to the entire event, the cardinal said that he is particularity excited to see the youth from his home country for catechesis.
“Even though I just left the United States last night, I'm looking forward to seeing my kids,” he said. “Because I love them! I'm so proud of them!”
Cardinal Dolan said that he enjoys interacting with the groups of young people and discussing the faith with them.
“I've done this before, and I love it,” he said, adding that although he already knows what he wants to talk about, how the conversation unfolds will depend on the participants.
“You'll often sense, there's a chemistry when you get there,” he explained. “You'll kind of say, is this a crowd that I want to get into some theological depth? Is this a crowd where I want to stay more prayerful, or conversational? So you've got to read the crowd. So even though I know what I want to say, it's important to get there.”
The cardinal also voiced excitement for the entirety of World Youth Day and the opportunity to experience Brazil.
Although he had just gotten off the plane a few hours earlier, he said the country had already made a positive impression on him.
In particular, he has enjoyed the Brazilian coffee.
“I'd be asleep right now if it weren't for their coffee!” he laughed.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Fabricio, Jose and Diego, three World Youth Day pilgrims from Paraguay, say their deep desire that Pope Francis will set hearts on fire with the love of Christ during the week-long event.
Diego Domenico told CNA, “I hope the Pope sets our hearts on fire, in order to show the world that it is possible to follow Christ.”
Domenico said the trip his group of 800 people made from Asuncion took almost 41 hours, but that all the fatigue was worth it to see the Holy Father.
Fabricio Batista said being in Rio for World Youth Day “is a unique experience. We came by bus and we are ready to listen to Pope Francis.”
For Jose, World Youth Day is “an experience I wanted for a long time.”
“Seeing the people and having this thrill is something that is truly unique.”
The three members of the Schoenstatt Movement shared their experience thus far of the intense journey. The Schoenstatt Movement is a Marian movement founded in Germany in 1914.
The Paraguayans said their group is staying at the University of Niteroi and will be taking part in the opening Mass this afternoon, which will be celebrated by Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro.
Paraguay, located between Brazil and northern Argentina, has sent one of the largest delegations to Rio de Janeiro to take part in World Youth Day.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Auxiliary Bishop Cristian Contreras Villarroel of Santiago, Chile, says the hundreds of thousands of young people in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day are not there as tourists but as true pilgrims.
“I am very happy to see young people from all five continents, from all languages, races and nations, overcoming language barriers and sharing one and the same faith, and all of this around Pope Francis,” said Bishop Contreras, who serves as president of the National Youth Ministry Committee in Chile.
Pope Francis arrived in Rio on Monday to throngs of cheering young people – an enthusiastic start to the global youth event which will go until Sunday, July 28. During his time in the country, the pontiff is staying in a modest residency, will visit a slum and will be traveling without his popemobile.
“What we saw yesterday during the arrival,” Bishop Contreras reflected in a July 23 interview with CNA, “demonstrates that anxiety young people have to be close to the Pope, to see him, to touch him, to take a picture close-up.”
“It demonstrates that longing for a father that is present in the hearts of every person, especially in young people who need that authentic authoritative figure that makes them grow.”
“And Pope Francis, like John Paul II and Benedict XVI, shows this,” he added. “Let us recall that in the Gospels, when the people wanted a miracle they sought out Jesus and touched him. It is precisely that. Because Jesus shows us the way to the Father and that’s what Francis does.”
“Anyone who wishes to know the Father must follow Jesus Christ,” he said. “And because of all this I am very happy and these World Youth Days – I have participated in four of them as a bishop catechist – also rejuvenate me.”
It is important to keep in mind, the bishop emphasized, that “we are sentinels at this moment, and the fulfillment of the command of Jesus, which is the theme of this World Youth Day, depends on us: ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations,’ baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“We are here because many saints, some who are perhaps anonymous, fulfilled that command, which is not a request but is truly a command,” Bishop Contreras noted.
“What these young people are doing is not tourism, they are truly pilgrims and like every pilgrim they deal with hardships, which they overcome through the great welcome they have received.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A group of young people who traveled 18 hours on a plane to make it to Brazil for World Youth Day say the trip was worthwhile just to participate with their peers and hopefully to see the Pope.
“It has been a very tiring trip, but now we are very happy to be here and to see the Pope,” Clara, 27, told CNA on July 22 after nearly two days of air travel and countless layovers.
The group of about 50 young people hails from the coastal nation of Mozambique located on the southeast corner of Africa and is bordered by the Indian Ocean.
“We hope that everything is wonderful,” Clara said.
Another member of the group, Isaquiel, who is 28, said that the trip cost each of the pilgrims about 55,000 metes – or about 1,600 dollars – but that the time and cost “was worth it” just to be in Rio de Janeiro to join in the celebration.
Nineteen year-old Oscar said he is excited to hear Pope Francis’ message to young people. He hopes that one day Africa will be included in the Holy Father’s travels.
“We know he’s not going right now,” he said, “but we would like him to.”
The group arrived in Rio on July 20, three days before the official start of the 28th World Youth Day.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro greeted pilgrims at World Youth Day's opening Mass, urging them to spread the infectious joy and peace of Jesus Christ to the whole world.
“Walk through this city, witness to Jesus Christ, commit to the new world,” Archbishop Tempesta preached at the July 23 Mass on Rio's Copacabana beach.
“Infect everyone with the joy and the peace of Christ, as sentinels of the morning, working for the renewal of the world in the light of God's plan.”
The head of the Church in World Youth Day's host city welcomed the pilgrims, telling them “this marvelous city became even more beautiful with your presence.”
He noted that the event has not been held in Latin America for 26 years, and that “providentially” Rio de Janeiro is “the place to welcome the first apostolic journey of the first Latin American Pope in history.”
Archbishop Tempesta thanked pilgrims for coming from the world over and said the happiness of “our shared faith and joy of discipleship … invites us to reach out to other youth, making us missionaries in all the nations.”
“The best gift to give others is the presence of Christ, which fills us and drives us to love and to give of ourselves, always in a fraternal dialogue.”
He noted that throughout the city are “many relics” of the 18 patrons of this World Youth Day, “recalling that at all times and places of the world we have youth who are holy.”
The “youthful enthusiasm” displayed around him, Archbishop Tempesta said, shows “the face of the young Christian, who seeks to unite the witness of an authentic Christian life with the social consequences of the Gospel.”
“We are called to be protagonists of a new world,” he said, playfully referring to the New World of the Americas but pointing to the “new world” informed by Christ, a theme to which he returned several times in the homily.
The readings at the Mass expressed Matthew's call to discipleship with the Lord, and the psalm speaking of a desire to do with pleasure the will of the Lord.
“It is this biblical expression that we would wish to be on our lips and in our hearts today and always: Here we are, Lord!”
Like Matthew, Archbishop Tempesta said, we must also “be ready for the consequences of a 'yes' to God, full of challenges and joys.”
The call of Christ, he said, is what brought together the pilgrims from all over the world with Our Lady of Copacabana, “under Christ the Redeemer with his warm embrace.”
“The sea, the sand, the beach and the crowd remind us of the call of the other disciples, along with Matthew.”
“Today,” he preached, Christ “invites us for a swim in deep waters, the waters of our baptism.” He noted that the beautiful gathering is in the “heart” of the Year of Faith, and that we are called “to live a deep faith.”
The people of the Church of Rio de Janeiro, he said, “felt called by God to welcome you” and are responding to the call of Christian hospitality: “the other is Christ for us. The other is our brother.”
“We are called to live by building up a world of brothers. We want each and everyone to feel welcomed into the embrace of Christ, who calls all to join him in building up the Kingdom of God.”
Archbishop Tempesta urged the pilgrims to follow Christ, “in the footsteps of the successor of Peter, the pilgrim Vicar of the Redeemer in this Rio, spreading brotherhood wherever we go.”
“Let us be harbingers of peace and concord, urging the world to live the holiness that flows from the Redeemer of Man.”
The long pilgrimage of Christian life, he said, is a call to live the reality of Christ among-us, and to “transmit it to others in a way both accessible and understandable.”
“You, dear young people, are a gift to a society that hopes that you have the solution to its crisis of values. You're called to form a new generation which lives the faith, and to pass it on for the following generation.”
Archbishop Tempesta encouraged the pilgrims to participate in their communities “with enthusiasm,” making it an opportunity of “coexisting with our brothers and sisters, witnessing that another world is possible.”
“The first pilgrim, who is among us, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, stood with us and indicates the way during these days. Dear young people: be not afraid to open your hearts for Christ.”
In the face of “barriers and obstacles,” he said, “let us build bridges instead … this city needs the witness of solidarity, the sharing and the acceptance of the love of Christ the Redeemer.”
The archbishop invoked the intercession of Mary, under the titles of Our Lady of Aparecida, Peña, and Nazareth for each of the pilgrims to be “missionary disciples of the new evangelization, being protagonists of a new world, as sentinels of the morning awakening to a new dawn of hope: Christ is Risen and goes ahead of us!”