Thursday, March 29, 2007

Papal Pentitential Service for Youth of Rome

At 6:00 PM this evening in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI held a pentitential service for the youth of the Diocese of Rome in preparation for Holy Week and centered on the theme of the 22nd World Youth Day - to be held this Sunday, April 1st, 2007 - “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34).


Youth from all over Rome and various parts of Italy as well as religious, teachers and parents came together with over 120 confessors from the various pentientiaries of Rome, various cardinals and bishops, and the Holy Father for a liturgy of the word, a homily by His Holiness, an examination of conscience, individual confession and absolution, and hymns and readings to accompany the prayerful atmosphere and help the youth prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Benedict's homily focused on the reading from John's Gospel and highlighted the need not only of the human person to be loved, but also on the need to love. He spoke of how in order for the human person to grow, he or she needs to encounter love, most of all, the love of God, which is not only agape or donational love, but also eros, a love that waits for a response from the beloved just as a young lover waits for the "yes" of the object of his affection. Likewise, he stressed the need of the person not to close in on his or herself, but to open up to the love of Christ, to say "yes."

The Pope also encouraged the youth to let love be expressed in their daily lives, be it their studies or work, be they called to marriage or to the consecrated life.

Benedict himself heard the confessions of six young people while the many priests from the Roman pentitentiaries heard the confessions of all who availed themselves of the sacrament.

Here's the press's take. They paid more attention to what the Pope actually said. :)

CONFESSION: ENCOUNTER WITH GOD'S MERCY

VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided at a penitential celebration with thousands of young people from the diocese of Rome in preparation for the forthcoming World Youth Day. The Day is due to be held on Palm Sunday, April 1, on the theme: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

"The heart of all mankind ... thirsts for love," said the Holy Father in his homily. "Christians, even more so, cannot live without love. Indeed, if they do not find true love they cannot even call themselves fully Christian because, ... 'being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.'

"God's love for us," he added, "which began with the creation, became visible in the mystery of the Cross. ... A crucified love that does not stop at the outrage of Good Friday but culminates in the joy of the Resurrection ... and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love by which, this evening too, sins will be remitted and forgiveness and peace granted."

This divine love "may be described with the term 'agape,' in other words 'the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other,' but also with the term 'eros'" because "it is also a love in which the heart of the Almighty awaits the 'yes' of His creatures." And "in the sacrifice of the Cross, God continues to present His love ... coming 'to beg' the love of His creatures."

"With Baptism you were born to new life by virtue of the grace of God. However, since this new life has not suppressed the weakness of human nature, ... you are given the opportunity to use the Sacrament of Confession. ... And thus you experience the forgiveness of sins; reconciliation with the Church; the recovery, if lost, of the state of grace; ... peace and serenity of conscience and the consolation of the spirit; and an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian struggle."

Christ "hopes we will allow ourselves to be attracted by His love and feel all its greatness and beauty, but this is not enough. Christ attracts us to Him in order to unite Himself to each one of us, so that, in our turn, we learn to love our brothers and sisters with His same love."

"As you leave this celebration, with your hearts full of the experience of God's love, be prepared 'to dare' to love in your families, in your dealings with your friends and even with those who have offended you. Be prepared to bear a truly Christian witness" in all environments.

Benedict XVI called upon newly-engaged couples to experience the period of their engagement "in the true love which always involves mutual, chaste and responsible respect. And should the Lord call some of you, dear young people of Rome, to a life of special consecration, be ready to answer with a generous and uncompromising 'yes'."

"Dear young people, the world awaits your contribution for the building of the 'civilization of love.' ... Do not become discouraged and always have faith in Christ and in the Church."

Following the liturgy the Pope put on a purple stole and entered the confessional to administer the Sacrament of Penance to six young people. Fifty-five priests joined him in administering the Sacrament to others present in the Vatican Basilica.
HML/PENANCE/... VIS 070330 (600)

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