One of the things that really surprised me during the two weeks of World Youth Day 2008 (WYD) was how much the young people really appreciated good preaching; how they were moved by it and how it touched their hearts. I know this because I was told this by the young people themselves.
One of the fruits of WYD was that the church expected an increase in religious vocations (to the priesthood and to women’s religious orders). This has happened! A couple of people will now take steps to pursue their vocations and this came about from the small group (500) with whom I had contact. When you consider the ½ million people present at the closing Papal services, only the Lord knows how many decided to make a religious vocation their own priority in life.
Pope Benedict XVI preached some of the best homilies I have heard. He was clear, direct, challenging and definitely full of the Holy Spirit. Many young people told me that they were moved and inspired by him. Find these talks on the internet and read them. This is part of what he said on Sunday, July 20, “we have seen the church for what she truly is; the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord. The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the church with life!” On Saturday he told the bishops, seminarians and priests that, “The Cross reveals that we find ourselves only by giving our lives away, receiving God’s love as an unmerited gift and working to draw all men and women into the beauty of that love and the light of the truth which alone brings salvation to the world”.
These are powerful words, yet so true. The very life of our soul depends on this truth. Our young people rose to the challenge and said that, “the Pope spoke very beautifully to me, personally”.
Our pilgrims also listened to the six Ukrainian Catholic Bishops who came to WYD in Sydney and Melbourne on several occasions. The reaction to their preaching was very positive, and inSydneythe questions which were asked showed the depth of the faith of our young.
Catechising, preaching and teaching, done properly, are a blessing and a gift which is used by the Holy Spirit to heal the hearts of all the faithful. This is definitely another matter we will have to examine in prayer.