In the reading which has just been proclaimed, we heard a passage from the Gospel which talks of welcoming the words of Jesus and putting them into practice. There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral. They do not bring us to him and, as a result, Christ stays remote, just one voice among the many others around us which are so familiar. Furthermore, the Master who speaks teaches, not something learned from others, but that which he himself is, the only one who truly knows the path of man towards God, because he is the one who opened it up for us, he made it so that we might have authentic lives, lives which are always worth living, in every circumstance, and which not even death can destroy. The Gospel continues, explaining these things with the evocative image of someone who builds on solid rock, resistant to the onslaught of adversity, and in contrast to someone who builds on sand - we would say today in what appears a paradise - but which collapses with the first gust of wind and falls into ruins.Those wishing to follow the events of World Youth Day may do so by reading the frequent updates on the Catholic Herald website or by watching either EWTN or Vatican Television. The Catholic Church in England and Wales also has a Flickr page dedicated to the events in Madrid, and the Archdiocese of Westminster has set up a special blog, which is being constantly updated by young people from London who are attending the 26th World Youth Day as pilgrims.
Dear young people, listen closely to the words of the Lord, that they may be for you “spirit and life” (Jn 6:63), roots which nourish your being, a rule of life which likens us - poor in spirit, thirsting for justice, merciful, pure in heart, lovers of peace - to the person of Christ. Listen regularly every day as if he were the one friend who does not deceive, the one with whom we wish to share the path of life. Of course, you know that when we do not walk beside Christ our guide, we get lost on other paths, like the path of our blind and selfish impulses, or the path of flattering but self-serving suggestions, deceiving and fickle, which leave emptiness and frustration in their wake.
Use these days to know Christ better and to make sure that, rooted in him, your enthusiasm and happiness, your desire to go further, to reach the heights, even God himself, always hold a sure future, because the fullness of life has already been placed within you. Let that life grow with divine grace, generously and without half-measures, as you remain steadfast in your aim for holiness. And, in the face of our weaknesses which sometimes overwhelm us, we can rely on the mercy of the Lord who is always ready to help us again and who offers us pardon in the sacrament of Penance.
If you build on solid rock, not only your life will be solid and stable, but it will also help project the light of Christ shining upon those of your own age and upon the whole of humanity, presenting a valid alternative to all those who have fallen short, because the essentials in their lives were inconsistent; to all those who are content to follow fashionable ideas, they take shelter in the here and now, forgetting true justice, or they take refuge in their own opinions instead of seeking the simple truth.
Indeed, there are many who, creating their own gods, believe they need no roots or foundations other than themselves. They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment. These temptations are always lying in wait. It is important not to give in to them because, in reality, they lead to something so evanescent, like an existence with no horizons, a liberty without God. We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness, responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative co-workers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation. God is looking for a responsible interlocutor, someone who can dialogue with him and love him. Through Christ we can truly succeed and, established in him, we give wings to our freedom. Is this not the great reason for our joy? Isn’t this the firm ground upon which to build the civilization of love and life, capable of humanizing all of us?
Dear friends: be prudent and wise, build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, nothing will make you fear and peace will reign in your hearts. Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others. They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe.
He died for us all, rising that we might have life, and now, from the throne of the Father, he accompanies all men and women, watching continually over each one of us.
Friday, 19 August 2011
Deacon James Bradley of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham sings the Gospel for Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day
Congratulations to Rev James Bradley of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham who acted as deacon for the Pope at yesterday's welcoming liturgy at the Madrid World Youth Day. Deacon Bradley sang the Gospel according to Matthew - the parable of the house built on rock (Mt 7: 24- 17) - after processing to the Holy Father amidst young people holding palm leaves and olive branches.
The special service was held at the city's Plaza de Cibeles, and was attended by hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world. It was also broadcast live to millions of viewers via television and radio. Some of the images in this post are from ETWN's special coverage of the event.
As I heard James Bradley announce the Gospel, I could not but think of the fact that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is a house built on the foundations of Peter, that "Rock" appointed by the eternal rock and corner-stone, Jesus Christ. It is a house that has left the shifting sands of the Anglican Communion, and has chosen to set its roots deep into Christ's unchanging truth, which is given in its plenitude to his Catholic Church.
In fact, it is the same Gospel of Matthew that goes on to reveal that Our Lord announced to his chief disciple, "You are Peter, and upon this Rock I shall build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" (Mt 16:18). I wonder, then, whether the Pope deliberately chose to have this Gospel proclaimed by a member of the Ordinariate, which by its very existence preaches the stability and security offered by the Petrine Ministry?
Some, such as those who belong to the Tunbridge Wells' Ordinariate Group, have already commented on the fact that "a smile seemed to creep into the eyes of Pope Benedict XVI" after Deacon Bradley asked for the Holy Father's blessing before proclaiming the Gospel. In fact, the Pope definitely seemed to beam with joy after giving his blessing to the young Deacon. Could it be that he was happy to have a member of the Ordinariate serve at one of his liturgies, as it's well known that the Holy Father has a special place in his heart for this special ecclesiastical structure, which he himself set up? Also, it might be that James Bradley asked for the blessing in Latin, which is suggested by a member of the Tunbridge Wells' Ordinariate Group. Such a simple action could easily have cheered a man known for his respect for the value of Catholic tradition.
Below is part of Pope Benedict XVI's homily at last night's opening liturgy, the full text can be found on the Vatcian's website: -
[Images: 1 Deacon James Bradley proclaiming the Gospel at WYD; source: this is a still from EWTN coverage's of the event and can be found on YouTube. 2 Deacon James Bradley processing with the Gospel; source: see 1st image. 3 Pope Benedict XVI smiling after blessing Rev James Bradley; source: see 1st image. 4 Rev James Bradley being blessed before proclaiming the Gospel; this image is published under a creative commons licence and is attributed to Marcin Mazur © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk; source Flickr. 5 Young Christians from Iraq at last night's liturgy (please pray for their Church and nation); this image is published under a creative commons licence and is attributed to Marcin Mazur © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk; source Flickr. 6 Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Plaza de Cibeles after last night's liturgy of welcome; this image is published under a creative commons licence and is attributed to Marcin Mazur © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk; source Flickr]