MADRID, Spain, MAY 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here a translation of the letter written by Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid, 100 days before the opening of World Youth Day, which will be held Aug. 16-21 in his archdiocese.
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My Dear Brethren and Friends, Dear Young People:
Only 100 days are left before the 26th World Youth Day which will take place in Madrid from August 16-21. How can we not recall today, 100 days before it is held, that unforgettable morning of Sunday, July 23, 2008, when at the end of the solemn Eucharistic celebration with which he concluded the 23rd Word Day in Sydney, the Holy Father convoked young people of the world to Madrid in 2011?
The Pope’s announcement was greeted with joyful and grateful enthusiasm not only by Madrid’s and Spain’s youth, but by the whole immense multitude of young Catholics who took part in the great Eucharist in the hippodrome of the great Australian city. From that day until this day of the celebration of the volunteers and of families in “the Madrid-Arena,” of the now close and great appointment in Madrid with the Pope, we have not failed to prepare ourselves and to dispose ourselves spiritually and pastorally so that Madrid’s World Youth Day with the Holy Father, accompanied by bishops and presbyters from all the dioceses of the world, will again be the providential occasion for a profound, authentic and joyful encounter with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who calls young people in his Church so that their lives, often depressed and broken, and others fresh and vigorous, will be rooted and built up in Him, the only one who can offer them and give them truth, hope and love; the only one who can show them the right direction and accompany them on the way that leads to genuine and lasting happiness. […]
The particular Church of Madrid, put in charge by the Pope of the organization of this great ecclesial event — undoubtedly the most exceptional of all its history — is the recipient simultaneously of a singular gift and of an unprecedented pastoral responsibility entrusted to it by the Pastor of the universal Church in view of the great and very timely objective of the New Evangelization of young people of the Third Millennium. Gift and responsibility that, in short, comes to us from the invisible Lord and Pastor of the Church and of our souls, from Jesus Christ Risen, and which we have received and assumed with much fruit in the course of the more than two years of intense prayer, of listening to the word of God, of celebration of the sacraments, and of making known to the Church and to the whole of Madrid’s society, especially its young people, what the organization of the 26th World Youth Day means and will mean for the Christian renewal of Madrid’s youth, vigorous and eager!
The pilgrimage with the Cross and the Icon of World Days through all our diocesan and urban geography made us perceive the enormous evangelizing potential enclosed in that great instrument of ministry to youth born from the singular apostolic charism of Blessed John Paul II, and designed pastorally by him. Its final stage is now here! Hence, the imminence of what is going to be a new, beautiful and fruitful time of grace and of the Spirit for the Church and for young people; more than that, the certainty that we are on the threshold of a new “Pentecost” which will renew hearts and their life projects with enkindled love of Jesus Christ, imposes on us as an unavoidable pastoral evidence. We are urged to answer: a personal and community answer. An answer that will be determined, committed and generous.
First: in the reception and support of the young pilgrims that will arrive in Madrid as “a youthful flood born from the sources of all the countries of the earth.”
No other attitude is fitting before them than that of fraternal love, lucid in its service and ready to give itself to a truly apostolic cause: that of the evangelization and sanctification of the young people of this time of the Church so full of missionary expectations and hopes that the Risen Lord Jesus Christ will triumph. His reflection must be seen in the number and quality of the volunteers. Many already are those that have made available to the immense task of the technical, human and pastoral preparation of the World Day, innumerable hours of work, professional competence, collaboration of their families — all the best of themselves — with much faith and love of Jesus Christ and of his Church: with much love for young people! The Lord will not be sparing in his recompense! You are many and you will be more! This will also occur with Madrid’s families: of the City and Community of Madrid. Their proverbial sense of Christian hospitality will encourage them to receive the young pilgrims and open the doors of their homes in keeping with the known “Benedictine” motto of the “hospes sicut Christus”: to treat “the guest as Christ.” Our families could be for the youth of the world, who will respond to the Holy Father’s call to come to Madrid in countless numbers, one of the best signs and testimonies of the Christian love that beats in the hearts of Madrid’s inhabitants.
Second: our response will show itself especially sensitive to the arrival and presence of the Holy Father, the visible Pastor of the universal Church, Pope Benedict XVI.
The Pope will arrive in Madrid in the name of the Lord to lead young people of the whole Church, pilgrims with their bishops and priests, in the World Youth Day, to a new and decisive encounter with Jesus Christ: “their friend,” “their Lord,” their Savior! The Pope seeks and expects from young people of this time of the Church and of the world a new Yes to his Gospel: a firm Yes, courageous and transforming of their lives. As John Paul II did in the memorable Eucharist of the Mount of Joy in the 4th WYD in Santiago de Compostela on August 20, 1989, he will say to them: Do not be afraid to be saints! Be faithful to the vocation to be “apostles” of your companions, the young people of the world! Win all of them for Christ!
Third: finally, the response of the diocesan Church of Madrid and, primarily, that of its young people, must be participation.
Diligent in prayer for the natural and supernatural fruits of World Youth Day, in active participation in the pastoral and apostolic activities of their immediate preparation and, above all, in the celebration of the Day itself: in its main events and in the whole rich ensemble of its program. Let us take profound advantage of the exceptional grace of this “new Pentecost” of the young people of the world that because of the trust and benevolence of the Holy Father Benedict for us is going to be held in Madrid! No more delays in registrations! May priests, families, educators , etc. help our young people to do so soon!
The task we have assumed at the service of the Church and its youth pastoral, is one of uncommon, incommensurable material and spiritual proportions! May the loving closeness of the Mother of the Lord and our Mother, the Virgin Mary, “Virgin of La Almudena,” encourage and support us with that supernatural vigor and gentleness that she alone, with her mediation before her divine Son, can transmit. We entrust ourselves to Mary, “our life, our sweetness and our hope,” in this, very much her month of May.
With all my affection and blessing,
+Antonio Ma. Rouco Varela
Cardinal-Archbishop of Madrid