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WYD 2011: Archbishop Dolan tells youth that faith is ‘the most logical thing’

By on Thursday, 18 August 2011

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York at yesterday's catechesis (CNS)

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York at yesterday's catechesis (CNS)

World Youth Day pilgrims got down to business in Madrid yesterday as the first catechesis classes taught by archbishops and bishops were held in locations throughout the city.

Sessions were divided by languages, and pilgrims were encouraged to go to the session closest to their accommodations.

At San Ricardo church, northwest of the city centre, cheers and cries of welcome greeted New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan as a group of approximately 350 young people – mainly from Australia, the United States and Barbados – caught a first glimpse of their teacher for the day. A clear lover of people, Archbishop Dolan posed for every photo-op, embraced many familiar – and unfamiliar – people, and ended up at the front of the church with an Australian baby propped in his arms.

With his catechesis theme gleaned from that of World Youth Day, Archbishop Dolan spoke about faith as a logical gift from God and about what it means to keep that faith firm.

The best way to maintain a strong faith, he said, is to acknowledge that it is weak.

“When we admit our faith is weak, when we admit our faith is shaky, when we admit that our faith isn’t what it should be, actually we’re exercising it, and we’re making it more and more firm,” he said. “Something tells me that’s why we’re (at World Youth Day),” he said. “Our faith is weak, our faith is shaky. We want to be with a million other young people from around the world who love their faith and are trying to make it strong.”

Using personal anecdotes of his life in New York, Archbishop Dolan explained to the young people that faith is easy to observe, but difficult to define. He called it a gift given by God to those who ask for it: Free will enables people to live without faith, but it’s always ready and waiting.

Archbishop Dolan described what he called the paradox of faith: how in the world today faith is often seen as illogical, unable to be scientifically verified, a crutch for people to avoid the duties and trials of earthly life, and the cause of hatred in the world.

But faith is “the most logical thing of all when you think about it,” he said. Most of the things that matter most to people cannot be demonstrated, such as love, loyalty, friendship, joy and trust.

“We can’t show that under a microscope, and yet those are the most real things in life,” he said.

Faith should be fostered through the sacraments, and struggles and tough times in life should be used to strengthen faith, not hurt it, he said. And, he stressed, Catholics need to remember that faith is not a doctrine, creed or even a church.

“Our faith is in a person, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” he said. “He and he alone is the root, the origin and the goal of our faith.”

During a question-and-answer session, one Australian pilgrim touched on what will likely be a challenge for many young people once they leave World Youth Day: how to interact with those who do not agree with the basic principles of the Catholic faith and who are, in fact, living a life averse to the church’s teachings.

The archbishop’s answer was simply this: with love.

“We can scream, we can yell, we can castigate, we can alienate, we can nag, and most of the time if we do that we lose,” he said. “Or we can be gracious, patient, loving, understanding, persistent, welcoming. And most of the time when we do that, we’re also going to lose. But less than the first one.”

The catechetical sessions will continue on August 18-19, offering pilgrims additional opportunities to meet with those in positions of authority in the Church – a fact that is much appreciated by the young people.

“They’re taking time out of their lives and their positions to come and speak to young people,” said Rebecca Devitt, 25, of Dubbo, Australia. “It may allow [the youths] to get to know the people who are probably a little bit on a pedestal in a lot of places. It may humanise them a little bit more.”

On the way into the church, Archbishop Dolan told Catholic News Service that World Youth Day is “a powerful icon of the Church Universal”.

“This is a great honour for me just to be able to teach, because bishops are, first and foremost, teachers,” he said. “To teach 300 or 400 kids who are eager to hear, it’s a challenge and inspiration.”

  • Michael McManus

    kids eat grass

  • Jeannine

    Archbishop Dolan is a good example of a joyful & orthodox Catholic. My husband who converted this past Easter, received the Sacrament of Penance for his 2nd time perchance from the archbishop. My husband said he was very compassionate, funny, & full of common sense. ——- Lucky him! I always get the ones that want to psychologically analyze me!

  • Michael McManus

    Thats not what incest survivors in new york call him Jeannine

  • Michael McManus

     Jeannine, You remember dolan was sent to Ireland by the pope, As dolan this question, Why he never said any thing about the pope allowing some one who covered up child rape and abuse to be head of the church there

  • Michael McManus

    You could also ask him why hes silent about this Catholic Church trafficked 14,000 Cuban Children to the US in “Operation Peter
    Pan

  • Michael McManus

    Another question when did the catholic church change the sabbath from Saturday to sunday

  • Jeannine

    How do you know? I certainly wasn’t privy to that conversation.

  • Jeannine

    I am very much aware of Archbishop Dolan’s record & career history. He was 1 of those few American bishops not part of the scandal. I think you may have mixed him up with his predecessor, Cardinal Egan, which I would then agree.

  • Jeannine

    How can he possibly comment intelligently on supposed events that occurred while he was in HS? You’re a looney tune!  

    If I were I would diversify your internet search on “Vatican crimes” by looking beyond that 1 biased website.

  • Jeannine

    How can he possibly comment intelligently on supposed events that occurred while he was in HS? You’re a looney tune!  

    If I were I would diversify your internet search on “Vatican crimes” by looking beyond that 1 biased website.

  • Jeannine

    How can he possibly comment intelligently on supposed events that occurred while he was in HS? You’re a looney tune!  

    If I were I would diversify your internet search on “Vatican crimes” by looking beyond that 1 biased website.

  • Michael McManus

    I do not mix him up with egan, I along with many others are fighting in the catholic church in many senates across the USA , We want to do away with the statute laws for crimes against children

  • Michael McManus

    was not looking at a web site was, Was talking to survivors , Like my friend  Mira whose records show she was experimented on as a baby and then SOLD,  Along with other children, I have seen medical records of a number of people , Not copies,  

  • Michael McManus

    I asked you to ask him, To remain silent about brady , There are survivors in three countries of the priest brady silenced victims of , TWO KILLED THEMSELVES, , Some one who claims to care would have publicly slated the pope for allowing this,

  • Michael McManus

    Ask dolan how many mass graves are there across the USA of babies , Who the church would Not bury in catholic graveyards

  • http://www.ukpilgrims.com paula

    I attended one of his catechesis sessions at Love and Life in WYD and mass with him and I can say this man is a legend!