Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston has encouraged young people faithfully attend Sunday Mass and to bring their friends to Jesus Christ.
“We live in a culture that is addicted to entertainment but we don’t come to Mass to be entertained,” he told World Youth Day pilgrims at a morning catechesis session in central Madrid August 17.
“Our presence there, gathered as a family, is of crucial importance. It is at the Sunday Eucharist that we learn our identity as Christ’s family, where we witness to each other that we are believers and that we want to live as Jesus’ disciples.”
Cardinal O’Malley was addressing over 1,000 young English-speaking pilgrims who were crammed into the church of San Antonio. With pews at a premium, most of the young people had to make do with the marble floor.
Throughout his catechesis, the Archbishop of Boston likened the Church to a family - with the Eucharist at its heart.
“The Eucharist is Christ’s saving presence in our community. It’s our spiritual food. It’s the most precious possession which the Church has in her journey through history. It is God’s love taken to the extreme,” he said.
Cardinal O’Malley also emphasized how Sunday Mass is the “family meal” for Catholics which we should make sure to attend.
“The shortest book in the world is the Irish cookbook,” he joked, but his mother always insisted on family meals when he was growing up.
This morning’s catechesis session was only one of 220 being offered in 27 languages all over Madrid during a three-day stretch. The sessions are allowing young Catholics to be personally taught by some of the most senior bishops in the Church.
And it is through the Catholic Church, said Cardinal O’Malley, that young people “have the same opportunity to be with Jesus as they did 2,000 years ago.”
“Jesus established his Church and gave us the sacraments so that he will be able to touch our lives and not just the lives of those living 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land - so that he could be present everywhere in the world and for all times,” he said.
Cardinal O’Malley concluded by suggesting to the pilgrims that “there’s nothing more tragic than going through life without knowing how much we are loved by our family, our friends, by our God.” In order to prevent that from happening, he urged each of the youth to help bring their friends to Jesus Christ.
The example he gave was of the paralytic man in the Gospel of Matthew who was lowered through the roof by his friends in order to receive healing from Jesus.
“Isn’t that fantastic? Wouldn’t you like to have friends like that? Tell me?” the cardinal asked the young people, who responded with cheers and applause. “Well you have to be friends like that first!” he replied.
“Cardinal O’Malley’s words really made me proud to be a young Catholic and a member of the Catholic Church despite the persecutions you go through,” said 17-year-old Matthew McConnell form Kingston-upon-Thames, England to CNA afterward.
His friend, 16-year-old Caitriona Lowry also from Kingston-upon-Thames, nodded in agreement. “I thought it really interesting the way he related it all to family. It made it seem like the Church is a big community we’re all part of.”