The Vatican official of the dicastery charged with organizing World Youth Days thus got the 26th World Youth Day under way. "The day we have all been waiting for has arrived," he exclaimed.
"You have come to this meeting with the Holy Father Benedict XVI bringing with you all your plans and hopes, as well as your concerns and apprehensions about the choices that lie ahead," the cardinal stated. "These will be days that you will never forget, days of important discoveries and decisions that will be decisive for your future."
The 66-year-old cardinal noted that faith will be at the center of reflection for the Youth Day participants -- estimated to number more than 1 million.
"Faith is a decisive factor in each person's life," he said. "Everything changes according to whether God exists or not. Faith is like a root that is nourished by the lifeblood of the word of God and the sacraments. It is the foundation, the rock on which life is built, the dependable compass that guides our choices and gives clear direction to our lives.
"Many of us might wonder: in our world today where God is often rejected and people live as if God did not exist, is it still possible to have faith?'
The cardinal answered that the young people's presence in Madrid, "from the most remote corners of the planet" is a proclamation "to the whole world -- and in particular to Europe which is showing signs of being very lost -- [of their] unwavering 'yes!' Yes, faith is possible. It is in fact a wonderful adventure that allows us to discover the magnitude and beauty of our lives."
The Vatican official, himself a native of Poland, also proposed that Blessed John Paul II is a "special guest" in Madrid.
"Blessed John Paul II has come back to you, the young people that he loved so much, and who was equally loved by you. He has returned as your blessed patron and as a protector in whom you can trust," Cardinal Ryłko affirmed. "He has returned as a friend -- a demanding friend, as he liked to call himself.
"He has come to say to you yet again and with much affection: Do not be afraid! Choose to have Christ in your lives and to possess the precious pearl of the Gospel for which it is worthwhile giving everything!"
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