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WYD 2013: ‘Keep Christ at the centre of your lives,’ Pope tells pilgrims

By on Friday, 26 July 2013

Pope Francis as he addresses World Youth Day pilgrims on Copacabana beach (CNS)

Pope Francis as he addresses World Youth Day pilgrims on Copacabana beach (CNS)

Pope Francis has asked young pilgrims attending World Youth Day to keep Jesus at the “centre of their lives.”

Pope Francis asked young Catholics to imagine they were with Jesus on the seashore and asked them to follow Jesus and share his love with others, as he addressed them yesterday on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Faith, he said, is a “Copernican revolution,” an operation that shifts concerns and priorities so that they revolve around Jesus and not the individual or false idols.

“Certainly possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy,” he said, “but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied.”

Instead, he said, with Christ as the center of your life “you will never be disappointed,” but, he added, “the young must be strong” to resist the temptations around them.

Pope Francis spoke of belonging to the great family of faith and that included a moment of silent prayer for Sophie Moriniere, a French pilgrim who died July 17 in a car accident in French Guiana.

The celebration also included a “shout out” to retired Pope Benedict XVI, who chose Rio as the site of World Youth Day 2013 and selected its theme: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

The nations were present on the windswept, rain-drenched beach where hundreds of thousands of young people began gathering just after noon for a program of prayer and song dominated by Brazilians, but featuring groups from around the globe.

But tens of thousands of young people abandoned the sandy beach for the paved roadway when the Pope’s helicopter touched down at Fort Copacabana; the Pope spent more than half an hour driving from the fort on one end of the famous beach to the stage situated about two and a half miles away.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said an estimated 1 million people were on the beach for the ceremony with the pope.

The diversity represented at the event was not simply a matter of the national flags the pilgrims were carrying. Pope Francis said he knew the youths also had a variety of reasons for being part of World Youth Day and a variety of levels of previous involvement with the church.

“But today you are all here — or better yet, we are all here together as one in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples,” the Pope said in his introductory remarks.

Katherine Tanadi, 21, from the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore, told Catholic News Service that World Youth Day already “has been a life-changing experience.”

Standing on the beach, she said Rio was her first World Youth Day and “I have met young Catholics from all over the world. It’s incredible.”

Ida Szuzepaniak, 25, from Poznan, Poland, said the experience of being in Rio with hundreds of thousands of her peers in the cold and rain has taught her “that I have to have more patience, I need to pray more.”

She also said she was impressed by the Masses and other gatherings where everyone seemed to know the words to the songs and were willing to sing along.

“In Poland everyone is very quiet,” she said, but the exuberance in Rio “makes the experience more interesting.”

Pope Francis told the teens and young adults that Jesus was asking each person gathered on the seashore: “Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel?”

The Gospel reading for the evening prayer service was St. Luke’s account of the transfiguration of Jesus, including St. Peter’s line, “Master, it is good that we are here.” (Lk 9:28-36).

Pope Francis asked the young people to think about a meal and what it means to “put on salt,” then he told them, “Put on faith and your life will take on a new flavor.”

“Put on hope and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark,” he told them. “Put on love and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful because you will find many friends to journey with you.”

“Put on Christ,” he said, “you will find a friend in whom you can always trust” and “your life will be full of his love.”

Getting practical about matters, the Pope told the young people that Christ is waiting to wash away their sins in the sacrament of penance, to nourish them with his body in the Eucharist and to encounter them through their Christian peers who will give them friendship, encouragement and support.

As winter darkness settled over the crowd, Pope Francis told the young people to offer the witness of faith and the service of charity to others, “carrying to this world a ray of his light.”

He said it is tough being a bishop — and a “sad bishop” is no good to anyone — so it is important for him and other bishops to be confirmed by the enthusiastic faith of the young. Pope Francis also said the way the pilgrims have continued celebrating despite the weather demonstrates how “your faith is stronger than the rain and the cold.”

Micaela Ausili, 14, from Santo Cayetano Parish in Buenos Aires, Argentina, said Pope Francis makes all Argentines — “even if they are not Catholics” — proud.

“His election made the entire country proud, not just because he is Argentine but because he is humble and simple … an example,” Ausili said.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    ‘A “sad bishop” is no good to anyone.’

    I always thought his insistence on joy was preached above all to himself.

  • Chris

    Pope Francis says to “put on Christ” in this article. In a previous homily he told us how to do this in several ways.
    “We have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others. This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.” Pope Francis. If you have a problem with real truth you will have a problem with this Pope. He tells it like it is and because of that I am a fan!

  • saintwannabe1

    Thank you so much for this post. I needed this

  • Fred from Pittsburgh

    Wonderful to have another pope walking amongst us and giving us a clear , strong voice of Jesus . We lift a prayer of thanks , Lord , for Pope Francis’ life and light .

  • Heynalbeads

    You’ve made the assumption that there is an idol that prevents worship?
    Judge not, least ye be …in the contra flow with the idol of judgement on your highway.

  • Chris

    I didn’t make “the assumption that there is an idol that prevents worship”. This is Pope Francis quote! I just agreed with him and it doesn’t seem like you can see or understand what he is saying clearly. As I’ve said, if you have a problem with real truth you will have a problem with this thinking.

  • Gertrude Mushayabasa

    We offer our worship to God as a living sacrifice from our hearts and from our lives. This means that worship comes from a heart that has seen how great our God is….How great Yahweh , His Son our Lord Jesus Christ is…one who allows the Holy Spirit to flood their heart and empower them to witness about Jesus….without faith in God, our hearts will worship created things and when that happens, one has idols that prevents him from worshipping God…..Yes keep Christ at the centre of your life by deliberate choice…in the simplicity of daily circumstances….and delight in The Lord. Repentance and confession of sin, prayer and and reading the bible and reflection on the word of God, breaks down all the barriers created by ignorance, stubbornness, rebellion, and disobedience…thus freeing the prisoner…His grace is sufficient for us when faced with idols.

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