MADRID, Spain, SEPT. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Some 5,000 young people gathered at the cathedral of Almudena in Madrid on Monday to receive the World Youth Day Cross.
The youth came together with the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, to receive the cross in anticipation of the next youth day, which will be held in Madrid in August 2011.
Cardinal Rouco presided over a prayer vigil that marked the beginning of the cross’ pilgrimage through Madrid and other Spanish cities, reported SIC agency.
In the first stop of the cross and the icon of the Virgin Mary, the cardinal appealed to young people to give witness to the Lord “with courage and valor.”
In his homily, the cardinal explained that “our purpose is clear, simple and intrepid: we want to arrive at the end of our journey as pilgrims who have sought and found the Crucified Christ.”
Cardinal Rouco invited his listeners to discover what the cross has within, to seek Christ’s face so that he will illumine and transform each life. “It will not be easy to achieve this but it will be immensely gratifying and joyful,” he said.
The prelate appealed to the young people not to cease in their attempt, despite the “scandal” of the cross, which can take place “within and outside social and cultural realms more or less influenced or touched by the inheritance of the Christian faith.”
“There are not a few today who consider Jesus Christ’s proclamation foolishness,” he added.
However, in contrast to the “superman” who neither needs nor depends on God, the cardinal said that man needs “realistic and effective answers” for his problems in this world.
He added that history itself, the tragedies of the 20th century, show us that “those projects of man of personal and collective self-divinization” lead to “abysses of destruction.”
Given the above, the Cardinal Rouco underlined the importance of awaiting Christ in the depth of their hearts. He urged the youth to be “simple of heart.”
Finally, the cardinal prayed to the Blessed Virgin to “teach us how to undertake this journey of pilgrims of the glorious cross of her Son Jesus Christ in Madrid, humbly, simply and courageously, showing it in all its truth to young people of Madrid, their families and the whole society.”
May Our Lady help us “not to slacken,” he added, in the two years that remain to celebrate with the Holy Father at World Youth Day.