Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics should live out their everyday lives in a way that witnesses to those around them, offering hope in a world of darkness, said Bishop John Ebebe Ayah of Ogaja, Nigeria.
“We are all missionaries,” the bishop said to a group of English-speaking pilgrims at World Youth Day.
He urged them to “re-evangelize the world, bring the world back to Christ.”
Bishop Ayah spoke at one of the July 25 World Youth Day catechesis sessions in Rio de Janeiro. The sessions offer formation to participants through a talk and question-and-answer period with a bishop, as well as confession, Mass, testimonies, song and prayer.
The bishop noted that life is a mixture of good and bad experiences, and we must have spiritual maturity to accept this.
“There is sweetness with the bitterness,” he explained.
Growing up with high expectations, we become disappointed when life does not go according to our plans, he observed. Faced with broken families, unemployment and other modern challenges, some people despair and seek happiness in drugs, pornography or other damaging behavior.
As Catholics, we are called to be a light to these people, Bishop Ayah said.
He recalled the missionaries who came to Africa to teach the people and establish schools and hospitals.
“We too are missionaries,” he said. “We can make a lot of difference wherever we are.”
Traveling to a foreign land is not necessary to be a missionary, he stressed. Rather, you can bring the Gospel to others “in your family, in your community, in your country.”
Even though you may feel overwhelmed and outnumbered, God can do great things if you allow him to work through you, the bishop reminded the pilgrims.
“God can do a great deal with your voice,” he said. “By the way you carry out your lives generally, they will be convinced.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - “The next World Youth Day in the year 2016 will be in Krakow, in Poland!” the Pope said at the close of Sunday Mass in Rio July 28.
The event is sure to attract millions.
Bl. Pope John Paul II was Archbishop of Krakow before his election to the papacy. The archdiocese has about 1.5 million Catholics and over 1,100 diocesan priests across 439 parishes, according to the website Catholic Hierarchy.
Cardnal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the present Archbishop of Krakow, was personal secretary to John Paul II.
Poland has over 38 million people, about 90 percent of whom are Catholic, the CIA World Factbook says.
Poland is one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. Though the nation remained staunchly Catholic under Soviet-imposed atheistic communism, and took special pride in the papacy of John Paul II, the country has become somewhat more secularized in the last two decades. Weekly church attendance has dropped below 40 percent.
The choice of Krakow marks a return to Europe, which has hosted the global youth event three of the last six times.
Madrid, Spain hosted the World Youth Day in 2011 while Sydney, Australia hosted the event in 2008 and Cologne, Germany hosted the event in 2005. Toronto, Canada hosted it in 2002 while Rome hosted World Youth Day 2000.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following the closing Mass of World Youth Day, Pope Francis held Mary up as the model for the life of Christians, because of her desire to bring Jesus her son to the world.
“On receiving the grace of being the Mother of the Incarnate Word, she did not keep that gift to herself,” Pope Francis said during his Angelus address July 28 on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach.
“She set off, she left her home and went in haste to help her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was in need of assistance; she carried out an act of love, of charity, of practical service, bringing Jesus who was in her womb.”
Pope Francis began his remarks by thanking Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro as well as all the World Youth Day pilgrims “for all the joy you have given me in these days.”
“May Mary teach us by her life what it means to be a missionary disciple,” the Pope prayed.
He remarked that each time the Angelus is prayed, “we recall the event that changed the history of mankind for ever.”
Immediately after receiving the grace of becoming God's mother, Mary went in haste to help her kinswoman Elizabeth, Pope Francis noted, rather than basking in her own radiance.
“There, my dear friends, we have our model.”
“She who received the most precious gift from God, as her immediate response sets off to be of service and to bring Jesus. Let us ask Our Lady to help us too to give Christ’s joy to our families, our companions, our friends, to everyone.”
The Pope concluded, urging the pilgrims to “never be afraid to be generous with Christ … go out and set off with courage and generosity, so that every man and every woman may meet the Lord.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus with a mission, going out from their small circles to make disciples of all nations, Pope Francis taught today during the closing Mass of World Youth Day.
“Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: 'It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others,'” Pope Francis told the crowd of pilgrims on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach July 28 during his homily for the Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The first need for evangelization is to “go,” Pope Francis taught. “During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus … and you have sensed the joy of faith,” he reflected with the pilgrims.
“But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community.”
When faith stays “locked up” within a small Christian community, it is “like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly,” Pope Francis preached.
“Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ.”
“Jesus did not say: 'if you would like to, if you have the time',” the Bishop of Rome admonished his fellow pilgrims.
The command to evangelize, to make disciples of all nations, is not optional, not conditional.
“It is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself; he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God.”
In sending us out, Christ remains always with us, the Pope assured his listeners: “he is always beside us in our mission of love.”
The Church is meant to evangelize all persons, Pope Francis taught, saying there are “no borders, no limits” to where Christians are sent to evangelize.
“The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some.”
“It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone.”
“Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.”
He appealed in particular to the youth of Latin America to proclaim the Gospel in their homes “with fresh power.” The best tool for evangelizing young people, he said, is “another young person.”
Pope Francis' second point about evangelization was “do not be afraid.” Being a Christian does not require “particular preparation,” he said, but a realization that Christ accompanies us.
“When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us.”
Not only is Christ with us when we go on mission, but the Church and the communion of saints accompany us as well, because “we are sent together,” the Pope reminded the pilgrims.
“When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community.”
Pope Francis added that service is an important aspect of evangelization. The “new song” sung to the Lord “does not consist of words, it is not a melody,” he said, but is rather “the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus. It is sharing his sentiments … his actions.”
“And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.”
Evangelization, the Roman Pontiff taught, is “bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.”
The three marks of evangelization, going, being unafraid, and serving, will end up evangelizing the evangelist, the Pope assured the young pilgrims.
“Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel.”
Evangelization, he said, brings “God's power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world.”
“Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you,” he told them.
Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary, Christ's Mother “and our Mother,” might “always accompany you with her tenderness.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The director of the Vatican press office said that several major themes can be seen throughout Pope Francis’ addresses during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
What we are seeing during this Papal trip, said Fr. Federico Lombardi, are “key expressions that are emerging as the marks of this pontificate.”
These are phrases and concepts that have already been part of Pope's Francis' papacy, but are now finding particular expression, he explained at a July 27 press briefing.
One of these major expressions is the repeated call for a “culture of encounter” rather than a “throw-away culture” that discards and marginalizes people.
The Holy Father most recently made an appeal for this cultural shift at Rio’s Municipal Theatre, where he met July 27 with a group of Brazil’s political, cultural, religious and academic leaders.
He also issued a call to “rehabilitate politics” and spoke on the necessity of “social humility” in working towards dialogue, two phrases that Fr. Lombardi highlighted.
The Vatican spokesman applauded the gathering at the theater for including “the little people, the ordinary folks” from Brazilian society, saying that it was truly a meeting “of the Pope with the whole society of Brazil.”
Fr. Lombardi also emphasized the lunch that Pope Francis had with the country’s bishops on Saturday afternoon.
The address that the Holy Father delivered there - which was untelevised - was “not an ordinary talk,” he said. Rather, the lengthy and highly structured remarks constituted “the most important talk, perhaps, of the pontificate thus far.”
Nor were the Holy Father’s words limited to World Youth Day, he continued. Instead, they served “to set forward an agenda, an orientation, to inspire (the bishops), and to let them know of the great mission and work to which they are called.”
During the press briefing, Fr. Lombardi also spoke about the previous night's Way of the Cross re-enactment ceremony, describing it as an “incredible presentation.”
According to local authorities, 1.5 million people attended the event, covering the entire beach of Copacabana.
“The Pope appreciated very much how the stations made the story contemporary,” showing the modern troubles that young people face and linking them with the sufferings of Christ, Fr. Lombardi said.
The spokesman also noted the presence of 35 garbage collectors from Argentina at the stations. These individuals work in a landfill and have “great friendships” with the Pope, who had personally invited them to attend World Youth Day and greeted them when he saw them.
In his remarks during the Stations of the Cross, the Holy Father also remembered the more than 200 young Brazilians who were killed in a night club in Santa Maria six months ago.
Fr. Lombardi said the bishop of Santa Maria was grateful that the Pope remembered the tragedy and added that the last surviving victims of the fire had been released from the hospital earlier that day.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Young Polish men and women gathered in Rio rejoiced at Pope Francis’ announcement that Krakow, Poland will host the next World Youth Day in the summer of 2016.
“I haven’t got words, I don’t know what to say,” said Hanna Banas, 25.
“We had heard it could be in Poland but we weren’t sure,” she told CNA.
She was with a group gathered among the three million youths at Copacabana beach July 28 for Mass with Pope Francis. The final Mass was the capstone of the world’s biggest Catholic youth gathering, which witnessed five days of celebrations.
After the Pope announced World Youth Day would be held in Krakow, thousands of Poles who were scattered across Copacabana Beach cheered loudly. They waved their flags, screamed and posed for other youths who enthusiastically took their pictures.
Krakow pilgrim Anna Lesniara was among them.
“Yesterday and today were the best two days for me because we were all here today and because of this amazing announcement,” she remarked.
She said she wants to be a volunteer in 2016 after experiencing her first World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
“Here so many people helped me and I want to help them in Krakow,” stated Lesniara. “I’m so excited and I’ve met so many different cultures and wonderful people.”
Ján Olczykowski, aged 28, said the Krakow selection was “marvelous” news.
“Poland will embrace the entire world,” he said. “Being here will all these good people of Brazil, we want to receive all young people.”
Olczykowski said that what he likes best about Pope Francis is that he is “very close to people, just like Blessed John Paul II.”
Other Polish pilgrims voiced their deep enthusiasm.
“I’m so happy and excited that it will be Krakow because I’m studying medicine there,” said Magdalena Witowska.
“This is really going to strengthen our faith and unite the youth in Poland,” she remarked.
The 23-year-old said that what she best likes of Pope Francis is that on his way to the stage, he blessed the children.
“I’m very, very happy, I like everything of Pope Francis!” exclaimed Bartosz Kot, another pilgrim. “This is going to really help Poland.”
Bana? said she loved that the Pope said “we shouldn’t be afraid of going to the world and proclaiming Jesus.”
Bl. John Paul II, the former Archbishop of Krakow, gave great energy to World Youth Day celebrations before his death in 2005.
His presence was felt in Rio, where a case containing a relic of the late pontiff was on display.
It will remain in Brazil until Oct. 13 for veneration by young people in the Saint Sebastian Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.
At the end of the Mass, Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, addressed the millions of youth gathered at the beach.
Pope Francis then gave five pairs of young people a prayer book and a small copy of the Corcovado statue of Christ the Redeemer, the symbol of “The Marvelous City.”
After the Angelus, Pope Francis went to his Sumaré residence for lunch and a brief break.
On Sunday afternoon he will address the Latin American Episcopal Conference. Later, he will speak at a meeting with 15,000 volunteers of the 60,000 total that helped out in World Youth Day.
Pope Francis will then depart at 7 p.m. local time and arrive to Rome tomorrow, Monday at 11:30 a.m. Rome time.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA) - A child born with anencephaly, lacking part of her skull and brain, was welcomed by Pope Francis during the offertory at Mass this morning as a gesture of welcome and offering a life to God.
Pope Francis met the newborn girl's parents following his Mass with consecrated persons yesterday, July 27. They presented their daughter to him as he was leaving the cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.
Even though the abortion of unborn children with anencephaly is permitted in Brazil, the couple wished to welcome the gift of life, and her mother bore her.
Most children with anencephaly are stillborn or die within a few days of birth, though one person with the condition has lived at least three years.
Pope Francis blessed the child and her parents during today's Mass on Copacabana beach, when they presented the gifts at the offertory.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis told leading Latin American bishops that all Catholics must renew the Church with a “missionary spirit,” acknowledging that he and other bishops are “lagging somewhat” in spiritual renewal.
“Bishops must be pastors, close to people, fathers and brothers, and gentle, patient and merciful. Men who love poverty,” the Pope said.
He praised bishops with “simplicity and austerity of life,” urging them not to act like “princes” or to be “ambitious” in seeking to lead another diocese.
Rather, bishops should be “pointing the way” for their people, preventing them from “being scattered” while “ensuring that no one is left behind.” They should be men capable of guarding and protecting their congregation while also instilling hope “so that light will shine in people’s hearts,” the Pope said July 28.
Pope Francis’ words came in his address the bishops of the coordinating committee of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM) Sunday afternoon at the Sumare Residence in Rio de Janeiro. CELAM is an umbrella organization for the 22 bishops’ conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean.
He reflected on the legacy of CELAM’s Fifth General Conference, held in Aparecida in May 2007. He said the gathering launched a “continental mission” that called for the creation of “a sense of
a Church which is organized to serve all the baptized, and men and women of goodwill.”
The Pope criticized pastoral plans that “clearly lack nearness, tenderness, a warm touch” and are incapable of sparking “an encounter with Jesus Christ” and with other people.
“Christ’s followers are not individuals caught up in a privatized spirituality, but persons in community, devoting themselves to others,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis focused on two challenges to missionary discipleship: the “inner renewal” of the Church and dialogue with the world. He noted the Second Vatican Council’s guidance in engaging modern life.
“Responding to the existential issues of people today, especially the young, listening to the language they speak, can lead to a fruitful change, which must take place with the help of the Gospel, the magisterium, and the Church’s social doctrine,” the Pope said.
He noted the need to engage the many subcultures of the modern city on their own terms.
“If we remain within the parameters of our ‘traditional culture,’ which was essentially rural, we will end up nullifying the power of the Holy Spirit,” he warned. “God is everywhere: we have to know how to find him in order to be able to proclaim him in the language of each and every culture; every reality, every language, has its own rhythm.”
Pope Francis praised the spread of Bible groups, ecclesial base communities and pastoral councils. He said these advance the responsibility of the laity and help overcome “clericalism.” He particularly praised expressions of popular piety as a “healthy thing” that shows greater lay autonomy.
He also warned against several temptations that are false visions of the missionary spirit.
He said clericalism, an excessive lay dependence on or privileging of priests, is “a temptation very present in Latin America.”
“The phenomenon of clericalism explains, in great part, the lack of maturity and Christian freedom in a good part of the Latin American laity,” he said.
Both laity and priests take refuge in clericalism “because it is easier,” he lamented. This causes some Catholics to fail to grow in Christian life or to take refuge in ideology.
The Pope warned against turning the message of the Gospel into an “ideology,” whether it is “market liberalism” or Marxism.
He said the psychology-focused tendencies of some spirituality courses and spiritual retreats reduce the encounter with Jesus Christ to “self-awareness,” a “self-centered approach” that “has nothing to do with the missionary spirit.” He mentioned the new age practice of the Enneagram as one example.
He criticized the “gnostic solution” of elite groups of “enlightened Catholics” who offer a “higher spirituality.” He said some advocates of ordaining nuns to the priesthood or of giving communion to the divorced and remarried fall into this error.
He also warned against the “Pelagian solution” that seeks a “purely disciplinary solution” through “the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful.”
Repeating his previous criticisms, he warned against reducing the Church to “the structure of an NGO” focused on quantifiable results, statistics, and a business-like organization. He said some bishops’ conferences open more and more departments that do not help the mission of Church.
Concerning the inner renewal of the Church, Pope Francis stressed the need for “pastoral conversion” focused on “Jesus Christ as the bearer of God’s Kingdom” and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
He posed many questions to the bishops for their own self-examination.
He said bishops should ask whether they and their priests are working to ensure that their work is “more pastoral than administrative” and whether they serve “the People of God as a whole” rather than “the Church as an organization.”
He asked the bishops to examine whether they “manipulate” or “infantilize” the laity.
“In practice, do we make the lay faithful sharers in the mission?” he asked.
He said bishops should not simply react to complex problems, but should promote opportunities to “manifest God’s mercy.”
The Pope concluded with an exhortation: “I beg that we take seriously our calling as servants of the holy and faithful people of God, for this is where authority is exercised and demonstrated: in the ability to serve.”
Pope Francis addressed the bishops hours after celebrating Sunday Mass for millions of World Youth Day pilgrims gathered on Rio’s Copacabana Beach.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston encouraged thousands of pilgrims at a catechesis talk in Rio de Janeiro to choose carefully and use the right criteria when picking a spouse.
“Don’t marry someone because they’re rich or you share the same hobbies, marry someone because you share the same sense of mission,” he said July 26 at the city’s entertainment venue, Vivo Rio.
“Get married to have children!” he emphasized to the young people present.
Millions of pilgrims from across the globe poured into Rio for the July 23-28 World Youth Day events, which include three mornings of catechesis sessions with various bishops.
Cardinal O’Malley advised about 5,000 English-speaking young adults gathered at his catechesis session to avoid the trap of the “hook up culture” and of cohabitation.
“That’s just a train wreck waiting to happen,” he said. “When you’re looking for a spouse, pray to the Holy Spirit to find the right person and pray to be the right person.”
He also urged them to consider adoption rather than abortion in the case of a crisis pregnancy.
The cardinal interacted with the audience as he spoke of the importance of evangelizing in the West even more than in poorer countries.
“You need to be missionaries on the internet, in schools, in neighborhoods, helping people find God,” he remarked.
“We have a big responsibility and the first thing required is our own conversion and that is not easy,” Cardinal O’Malley stated. “Actions speak louder than words, our actions must show love for God.”
He recalled attending a talk by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and said that he and his colleagues “felt the presence of God, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium.”
“If people see us in action, then they will be more willing to hear us,” he noted.
The cardinal emphasized that people should apologize for sins, but never apologize for the Gospel.
“Are you going to be that Catholic always apologizing for your faith or evangelizers?” he asked.
He then told them a Japanese parable of a rich man who had a beautiful house on a mountain and realized that a tsunami was going to kill people at the beach.
“He didn’t have time to go warn them so he set his beautiful home on fire,” said Cardinal O’Malley.
The ones who climbed the mountain to rescue the man were saved from the tsunami, he explained, but the ones that stayed at the bottom, died.
“When we climb a mountain to help someone’s soul, we feel we’re doing God a favor when in fact, we could be saving our own,” he stressed.
The cardinal also cautioned that “(d)iscipleship isn’t a solo flight.” Rather, he said, “you learn it like you learn a language, you learn it through a community that speaks that language.”
While the road of evangelization is tough, it is important, he said, lamenting that too many people consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.”
“Jesus didn’t come and die on the cross so we could just have warm fuzzies of singing songs of poetry.”
“It’s about responsibility,” he explained. “You’re role as evangelizers begins now.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mike Alvarado is on a mission at World Youth Day to get people from around the world to sign his curious-looking flag.
The 29-year-old American carried to Rio one large flag made up of smaller flags from 150 countries. By the end of World Youth Day he hopes to have the signatures of young people from all the countries represented on his flag.
Alvarado, a director of youth ministry at a high school in California, is a three-time attendee of World Youth Day.
“In Madrid, I collected 117 signatures but my flag had fewer countries. Now I hope to get more,” he told CNA on Sunday.
His own family hails from various backgrounds.
“I am a mix of Spanish, Mexican, Irish and American. In other words, I am a completely average America,” he joked.
Pierre, a French youth who signed the flag, said Alvarado’s idea was interesting.
“It’s awesome,” he said.
Alvarado was also enthusiastic about his project.
“I like this flag a lot and it’s definitely a good way to meet people,” he added.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his encounter of thanks with the volunteers at World Youth Day, Pope Francis exhorted the young people to make commitments, and not be afraid to follow God's will into marriage or consecrated life.
“God calls you to make definite choices … to respond to your vocation is to move towards personal fulfillment,” Pope Francis told the thousands of volunteers gathered to meet with him in Rio de Janeiro July 28, shortly before he returns to Rome.
The Pope was first addressed by two of the volunteers, one from Brazil and one from Poland. The Brazilian told that “we volunteers are here with great joy in order to bear witness” to Christ and thanked him for the visit to this country.
Victoria, the Polish volunteer, told him that “with joy we await you in our country,” and added, “we shall, with God's help, do all that is in our power in order that the next World Youth Day might be even more beautiful.” Earlier in the day, Pope Francis had announced that the next event is to be held in Krakow, the city of Blessed John Paul II, in 2016.
Pope Francis responded by saying that “I could not return to Rome” without having thanked all the volunteers for their “countless” acts of loving service to the pilgrims in Rio.
“With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you've shown it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Their example, he said, was in the model of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Lord. “Every one of you,” he said, “was a means … to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples, to prepare the way so that all might meet, know, and love the Lord.”
Pope Francis prayed that those who had responded to generously to the call for World Youth Day volunteers may “always be generous with God and with others. One loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life.”
From that basis, the Bishop of Rome talked about the importance of being generous with God and others on a larger scale, a life-long scale.
“God calls each of us to be holy … but he has a particular path for each of us.”
Some, he said, “through family life in the sacrament of marriage.” He noted that many consider marriage “out of fashion,” and added that “in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many (say) it is not worth making a life-long commitment, a definitive decision, forever, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
“I ask you instead to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide. Yes, I am asking you to rebel! To rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary, and ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, of true love.”
“I have confidence in you,” he assured them. “And I pray for you.”
He re-iterated, “have courage to swim against the tide, to be happy.”
Pope Francis added that also, some are called to be priests, giving “themselves to him more fully” and loving “with the heard of the Good Shepherd,” and some are called to religious life, “giving of themselves for the sake of all.”
He recalled the day when he first heard God calling him to the priesthood, as he was on his way to a parish for confession at the age of 17.
“Do not be afraid of what God asks of you … in him we find real joy.”
To those who do not yet know what God is calling them to, the Pope urged them to “ask the Lord, and he will show you the way.”
Pope Francis concluded by thanking them again for their service, and assuring them of his prayers. He led them in praying the Hail Mary, and blessed them, seeming to have finished his encounter with them.
But, as he was preparing to leave, the Holy Father took back the microphone from the encounter's emcee, and added one last comment to the World Youth Day volunteers.
“One more thing: pray for me!”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The young woman who proclaimed a Scripture reading at the Papal Mass at World Youth Day said that it was an unforgettable experience that enabled her to encounter the Church in a unique way.
“It was amazing to look out and see more than three million people, and to think that this is all due to 12 men who said ‘yes’ to God’s call 2,000 years ago,” said 19-year-old Katherine Bauman, a native of Denver, Colo.
Bauman, who is studying theology, education and classical languages at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., proclaimed the first reading at the World Youth Day Closing Mass with Pope Francis on Copacabana Beach.
The July 28 Mass, which was moved from its original location in western Rio de Janeiro due to heavy rains, drew an estimated 3.2 million people.
Looking out over a massive sea of pilgrims from around the world, Bauman was amazed.
“It was an incredible experience,” she told CNA. “It expanded my perception of the diversity and the richness of our Church…all the different cultures gathered together.”
“Having this experience in a Latin American country, with a Latin American Pope, returning here for the first time – it’s so powerful,” she continued. “It showed me that I’m part of something a lot bigger than just me.”
In early June, Bauman got a phone call inviting her to read at the Mass. She was completely shocked, and it took her a while to process the fact that she would be reading in front of several million people and Pope Francis.
As the event drew closer, she became “a bit nervous” about speaking in front of so many people. But the nervousness was replaced with excitement when she got up on the altar.
“I was just so immersed in the moment,” she said, adding that “it’s really not about me anyway.”
This is the first time Bauman has attended a World Youth Day, although she was just miles away from the 1993 festivities in Denver, where she was born. Just two weeks old at the time, she was not at the events then, but has wanted to attend a World Youth Day for years.
Two decades later, Bauman is finally attending the international youth gathering and will be celebrating her 20th birthday in Brazil, making the event even more memorable, though she does not have any special plans for her birthday.
“It’s a pilgrimage,” she explained, although she joked that “I’m hoping to have ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me in at least three different languages.”
Bauman came to Brazil with a U.S. group from the Christian Life Movement, an international ecclesial movement started in South America. They arrived a week early to do mission trips in the favelas – or slums – of Sao Paolo, an experience that she described as “overwhelming.”
Her group painted the local outreach center, conducted catechesis with the children and visited families in their homes to talk with them, pray with them and listen to their stories.
These visits were “startling,” Bauman said, explaining that she was “struck by the openness of the people in this culture in general, but especially of the people in the favelas. They didn’t know us, but they invited us into their homes and they poured their hearts out to us.”
She contrasted this with the United States, where it is “almost a social taboo” to really open up and touch someone’s heart upon first meeting them.
“But we are meant for true encounter with one another, which is what I experienced in the slums, and I believe that we can learn a lot in this area from other cultures,” she reflected.
Bauman has also worked with the poor in Denver for several years, through a program called Christ in the City that brings young people from around the country to serve the local homeless.
Commenting on Pope Francis, who also visited a favela during his trip to Brazil, she said that she is “really touched by what he does, especially by the spontaneity of the love that he shows.”
“It’s clear that he sees the person first, and his primary goal in any encounter is to love the person without reservation.”
In addition to the Closing Mass with Pope Francis, the Opening Mass also made a powerful impression on Bauman.
“I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and I didn’t even notice the rain at times. Even though I didn’t understand the language and I was exhausted, I was just so caught up in what was going on,” she said.
Reflecting on World Youth Day overall, Bauman said that the huge numbers of people were what struck her most.
“Just seeing people pour onto the beach – they kept coming and coming and coming. And then realizing that we’re all there for the same reason; it’s just really powerful,” she explained. “What if we all lived out our faith? What could we accomplish? We could do a lot.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a farewell address to the people of Brazil, Pope Francis indicated his thanks for their warm welcome and encouraged them, and the pilgrims of World Youth Day, to build up a civilization based on charity.
“Through your joyful witness and service, help to build a civilization of love,” the Pope said to the youthful pilgrims as he prepared to board a flight back to Rome at Rio de Janeiro's Galeao International Airport July 28.
“I depart with many happy memories which I know will nourish my prayers,” he said to Brazilian vice-president Michel Temer and Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, as well as the other civil and ecclesiastical representatives who had gathered to see him off.
“Already I am beginning to miss Brazil, this great people showing so much affection and friendship. I shall miss the natural and warm smiles I have seen in so many faces.”
The Pope thanked the vice-president for “expressing the sentiments” of all Brazilians towards him, and his brother bishops for “making this week a splendid celebration of the richness and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ.” He thanked also their collaborators, and those who organized and took part in the Masses and other events.
“Finally, I wish to thank all those who in one way or another rose to the challenge of hosting and organizing the large numbers of young people.”
To the pilgrims who came with him to Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis extended his gratitude for the “beautiful witness of your lives and for your intense and joyful participation over these last few days.”
"Many of you came here as disciples; I have no doubt that all of you will leave as missionaries."
The Pope exhorted them to show “by your life, that it is worth taking risks for Christ and his Gospel” and that “it is worth recognizing the dignity of each human person.”
Pope Francis assured Brazilians that he prayed for all human people and “in particular for all” of them at the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil's patron saint.
“I implored Mary to strengthen you in the Christian faith, which forms part of the noble soul of Brazil, as indeed of many other countries; this faith is your culture’s treasure and serves as encouragement and support in the task of building a renewed humanity in harmony and solidarity.”
He concluded by offering to everyone “an affectionate embrace” and begging that they pray for him.
“The Pope needs the prayers of all of you.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Young people from around the world stood in long lines on Rio’s Copacabana Beach to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during World Youth Day.
“It’s a beautiful experience to be reconciled to God during this World Youth Day,” a young pilgrim, who wished to remain unnamed, told CNA moments after confession July 27.
Many priests helped to provide confession for the three million pilgrims present at the World Youth Day vigil on the beach so that the young people could receive the Eucharist worthily.
The young pilgrim added that “it is even greater to be able to have the indulgence that the Pope has given us.”
Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to youth who participate in the World Youth Day final Mass, receive sacramental confession and receive the Eucharist.
In Catholic belief, a plenary indulgence removes the temporal punishment -- the unhealthy attachment to created things -- due to sins already forgiven by God. The Catholic Church grants indulgences to recognize or encourage specific spiritual practices and prayers.
Previously some media outlets reported that the Pope would forgive sins of those who followed World Youth Day on the social media site Twitter. The accuracy of these reports was questioned by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Communications.
The Vatican official explained that “you cannot get indulgences like one gets a coffee from a vending machine.”
Both those attending World Youth Day Rio 2013 in person and who follow it spiritually through media and social networks, can receive an indulgence only if they make a good sacramental confession, receive the Eucharist, and pray for the Pope’s intentions.