Young Catholics from around the world gathered at the tomb of the late Pope John Paul II last night for a prayer vigil, led by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. Though he has been gone for two years, the archbishop said, today John Paul II “speaks to the world through you youth, and you youth have a great responsibility.”
“My hope is that you might fulfill his expectations,” the Archbishop of Krakow and long time assistant of the beloved Pope said, “certainly he, next to the Lord, is praying for you, so that you will always be morning sentinels.”
The Cardinal was gathered with thousands of young adults who filled the area surround Pope John Paul’s tomb. The prayer vigil included a Rosary with reflections from Arcbishop Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, according to the Religious Information Service of Italy (SIR).
Cardinal Dziwisz expressed his gratitude that so many were gathered around the tomb of the late Pope on the two year anniversary of their being gathered at the deathbed of John Paul. “Some people who are here today and I were next to John Paul II’s bed, and you were under the windows in Saint Peter’s Square, in the squares, in the streets of Rome.”
“He could hear you,” Dziwisz said of the Pontiff, “the windows were open and this was a great relief to him. He looked for you and you came to be with him at the time of his transition. I think he is not alone today either: he is with the youth that he loved so much, he loved you so much.”
“But,” the prelate asked, “what does John Paul II say to the youth today? Perhaps the same as he said on the first day of his papacy: ‘you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.’ Today he tells you, be Benedict XVI’s hope. Be the hope of the Church!”
“We, who are here today,” he added, “are lucky because here we represent all the Church and you represent all the youth and take on your shoulders, and above all into your hearts, all that John Paul II has left behind, all his legacy.”
“At [the Roman University of] Tor Vergata he called you morning sentinels; Sentinels, those who herald the hope of a new day. Be today’s sentinels,” the Cardinal encouraged, “by carrying the Pope’s message.”
Dziwisz then noted the close relationship between John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He speaks of him so many times, the archbishop noted, “with such great love. Today he gave a beautiful sermon during which he called [Pope John Paul] ‘Our Holy Father.’ We know who our Holy Father is today, but these words did enrapture our hearts.”
The Cardinal also spoke words of gratitude to Cardinal Camillo Ruini for starting and carrying on the process of beatification of John Paul II with “great commitment” and for “not having spared himself, in cooperation with the diocese of Rome.”
Cardinal Dziwisz also thanked the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, who at the end of the vigil laid an arrangement of white flowers and kneeled on the tomb of John Paul II next to the Cardinal.
During the vigil, the youth prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, which John Paul II expressly established. During his meditations on the mysteries Archbishop Comastri recalled the Polish Pope’s calling and his “yes” to Christ and Mary.
“The experience of the Nazi invasion, then the Communist invasion and then the dramatic experience of the Second World War made us feel the urgent need to bring God back into man’s life,” Comastri state.
The prelate mentioned Pope Wojtyla’s 104 international journeys and 146 journeys across Italy, which are “the picture of his missionary eagerness” and highlighted John Paul II’s fight in defense of human life at every stage and his “unheeded” appeals for peace.