"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
"The Media And The Family: A Risk And A Richness"
In Defense of Life: "Somebody Feed Me"
Just a Few Thoughts
Men Called to Fight for Freedom
Youth Called To Be Enthusiastic Evangelizers
Pray the News
by Fr. Timothy Atkin, C.I.C.M.
It had been 26 hours since President Aristide had left office when I decided to venture outside for the first time in nine days. I could have gone out the first three of those days, but they were the days of Carnival when everything is closed and the streets are jammed with revelers, along with the usual assortment of pickpockets, muggers, and drunks. Usually I ignore the Carnival and curl up with a good book as if it were a snow day.
I'm a little apprehensive as I venture out. There is no traffic to speak of, but other people like myself are beginning to come out to have a look around. After six days of chaos and looting, we want to see what's left of Port-au-Prince. I set off toward the center of the city, about a mile away. Everywhere people are sitting around in groups of five or six. They huddle together for comfort and reassurance after the mayhem of the last few days. A group of young men look at me askance as I pass by. At first I lower my gaze, but then I remind myself for the millionth time that for a Haitian, that is not a look of hostility but of curiosity. I flash them a big smile and offer a polite "bonjour" and receive the same in kind as their faces melt into friendliness. My apprehensions vanish.
Our neighborhood is pretty much intact. Nothing here has been looted. The bakery is beginning to make bread. The gas station and bank are closed, but untouched. Every 50 to 100 feet, I come to another barricade. An overturned car, a pile of rocks or sand, even a set of potted palms. Anything the residents could find to keep vehicles out of their neighborhood, be they the vehicles of Aristide's supporters, Aristide's opponents, the so-called rebel army that was threatening the city, or just anyone trying to take advantage of the situation to steal what they could. Most of these barricades wouldn't have stopped a determined go-cart, but when people feel desperate, they do what they can.
As I approach the center of the city, not far from the National Palace, I begin to see more signs of destruction. It isn't as bad as I had feared, but still the place looks like it had just been hit by a whirlwind. Most stores haven't been touched. The favorite targets seem to have been the banks, the gas stations, and the electronics stores. One bank has been completely gutted and burned out. I can't tell if they got to the vault or not, but I doubt that they could open it.
Several gas stations have had their pumps smashed, but at least they weren't set on fire. I can easily understand why they would be targets. Every time another "structural adjustment" is decreed by the IMF or the World Bank, the price of gas soars. People can no longer afford bus fare. Food coming into the capital from the countryside will cost more. Electrical bills will go up. The misery of the poor will increase.
Harder to understand is a burned-out flower store. Was this just an easy target of opportunity, or is the owner some reviled public figure?
A little further down the street I pass an electronics store. It too has been gutted and burned. As I gaze at the devastation, a fire truck arrives. The fire has obviously been out for a day or two, but the firemen make a show of looking for sparks that could reignite the blaze. This is indeed the country of The Comedians, as Graham Green so aptly entitled his novel about Haiti. As I stare at the litter in front of the store, I realize that I'm looking at a clutter of smashed televisions and radios, computers and CD players. These goods were not stolen; they were destroyed. This wasn't looting. This was rage!
As I turn my steps toward home, I ask myself, what happened here? Are there any seeds for real change to be found in all of this mess? A government has fallen. A constitution lies in tatters. An international force will intervene. Has anything changed? Doubtlessly there will be humanitarian aid to feed the poor for a few months, but has anything happened to assure that the poor will ever see it? The international force will stop the looting and suppress the rage, but will they help Haiti's ruling elite to realize that a few hundred people cannot control 80% of a country's wealth and not have anarchy. New elections will be held, but will the politicians become statesmen? Will Haiti and the outside world learn that democracy is less about elections and more about compromise and the common good? The day after the Duvalier dictatorship was overthrown, people picked up their brooms, buckets, and paint brushes and began cleaning up and rebuilding. There was real hope that things have finally changed. Today there is no real celebration, no spontaneous effort to clean up. No belief that things have finally changed.
In fact, aren't things getting worse? Isn't Haiti simply a microcosm of the way our world is headed? (The growing gap between rich and poor, the corruption in high places, the dwindling commitment to public service.) What do these portend for our democracies and our world?
It is hard to conjure up much optimism the day after the whirlwind. Maybe a few seeds of real change were carried aloft by this storm and will fall one day on fertile ground, but it is hard to imagine that today.
As I return home, I see a woman rummaging through a barricade that had been made from the street vendor's stalls. "What are you looking for?" I asked. "For my stall," she replies. "Why don't you just take anyone of them," I suggest. "They are all pretty much alike." "Oh no," she says. "I couldn't do that. The other sellers have to make a living too."
Did I just witness a seed for change fall from the whirlwind?
The 38th World Communications Day will be observed on May 23. In his message for the Day, issued on January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press, the Pope stated:
"The extraordinary growth of the communications media and their increased availability has brought exceptional opportunities for enriching the lives not only of individuals, but also of families. At the same time, families today face new challenges arising from the varied and often contradictory messages presented by the mass media. The theme chosen for the 2004 World Communications Day – 'The Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness' – is a timely one, for it invites sober reflection on the use which families make of the media and, in turn, on the way that families and family concerns are treated by the media.
"Thanks to the unprecedented expansion of the communications market in recent decades, many families throughout the world, even those of quite modest means, now have access in their own homes to immense and varied media resources. As a result, they enjoy virtually unlimited opportunities for information, education, cultural expansion, and even spiritual growth - opportunities that far exceed those available to most families in earlier times.
"Yet these same media also have the capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion, and on morality. This power either to reinforce or override traditional values like religion, culture, and family was clearly seen by the Second Vatican Council, which taught that 'if the media are to be correctly employed, it is essential that all who use them know the principles of the moral order and apply them faithfully' (Inter Mirifica, 4). Communication in any form must always be inspired by the ethical criterion of respect for the truth and for the dignity of the human person.
"These considerations apply in particular to the treatment of the family in the media. On the one hand, marriage and family life are frequently depicted in a sensitive manner, realistic but also sympathetic, that celebrates virtues like love, fidelity, forgiveness, and generous self-giving for others. This is true also of media presentations which recognize the failures and disappointments inevitably experienced by married couples and families - tensions, conflicts, setbacks, evil choices, and hurtful deeds - yet at the same time make an effort to separate right from wrong, to distinguish true love from its counterfeits, and to show the irreplaceable importance of the family as the fundamental unit of society.
"On the other hand, the family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. Such portrayals, by promoting causes inimical to marriage and the family, are detrimental to the common good of society.
"Conscientious reflection on the ethical dimension of communications should issue in practical initiatives aimed at eliminating the risks to the well-being of the family posed by the media and ensuring that these powerful instruments of communication will remain genuine sources of enrichment. A special responsibility in this regard lies with communicators themselves, with public authorities, and with parents.
"Pope Paul VI pointed out that professional communicators should 'know and respect the needs of the family, and this sometimes presupposes in them true courage, and always a high sense of responsibility' (Message for the 1969 World Communications Day). It is not so easy to resist commercial pressures or the demands of conformity to secular ideologies, but that is what responsible communicators must do. The stakes are high, since every attack on the fundamental value of the family is an attack on the true good of humanity.
"Public authorities themselves have a serious duty to uphold marriage and the family for the sake of society itself. Instead, many now accept and act upon the unsound libertarian arguments of groups which advocate practices which contribute to the grave phenomenon of family crisis and the weakening of the very concept of the family. Without resorting to censorship, it is imperative that public authorities set in place regulatory policies and procedures to ensure that the media do not act against the good of the family. Family representatives should be part of this policy-making.
"Policy-makers in the media and in the public sector also must work for an equitable distribution of media resources on the national and international levels, while respecting the integrity of traditional cultures. The media should not appear to have an agenda hostile to the sound family values of traditional cultures or the goal of replacing those values, as part of a process of globalization, with the secularized values of consumer society.
"Parents also need to regulate the use of media in the home. This would include planning and scheduling media use, strictly limiting the time children devote to media, making entertainment a family experience, putting some media entirely off limits, and periodically excluding all of them for the sake of other family activities. Above all, parents should give good example to children by their own thoughtful and selective use of media. Often they will find it helpful to join with other families to study and discuss the problems and opportunities presented by the use of the media. Families should be outspoken in telling producers, advertisers, and public authorities what they like and dislike.
"The media of social communications have an enormous positive potential for promoting sound human and family values and thus contributing to the renewal of society. In view of their great power to shape ideas and influence behavior, professional communicators should recognize that they have a moral responsibility not only to give families all possible encouragement, assistance, and support to that end, but also to exercise wisdom, good judgment, and fairness in their presentation of issues involving sexuality, marriage, and family life.
"The media are welcomed daily as a familiar guest in many homes and families. On this World Communications Day I encourage professional communicators and families alike to acknowledge this unique privilege and the accountability which it entails. May all engaged in the field of communications recognize that they are truly 'stewards and administrators of an immense spiritual power that belongs to the patrimony of mankind and is meant to enrich the whole of the human community' (Address to Communications Specialists, Los Angeles, September 15, 1987, 8). And may families always be able to find in the media a source of support, encouragement, and inspiration as they strive to live as a community of life and love, to train young people in sound moral values, and to advance a culture of solidarity, freedom, and peace.
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
"You have to endure the physical pain and on top of that you have to endure the emotional pain. Your whole body cries out, 'Feed me. I am alive and a person, don't let me die, for God's sake! Somebody feed me'."
These words belong to Kate Adamson who in 1995 had a terrible stroke. Writing in The Wanderer, Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf reports that she was misdiagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) when in fact she was completely awake and aware but unable to communicate. Although she was on a saline IV for hydration, she was not fed for eight days. Kate came out of what is called "locked in state" and lived to recount the experience.
"A prevailing treatment of people in PVS is to withhold food and water until they die of dehydration. Since they are disabled, they are incapable of expressing their terrible suffering as they are dying," states, Fr. Zuhlsdorf.
Addressing the congress sponsored by International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and by the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope John Paul II stated on March 20, as reported by Fr. Zuhlsdorf in The Wanderer: "A man, even if he is gravely ill or impeded in exercising his higher functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a 'vegetable' or an 'animal.'"
The Pope clearly emphasized the moral obligation to provide nutrition and hydration to such ill people, stating "the sick person, in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or his natural end, has the right to basic health care, and to the prevention of complications linked to his state."
When someone is denied food and hydration, death comes through severe dehydration. "Your skin becomes pale and clammy. Your heart starts to race and your breathing becomes rapid and shallow," describes Fr. Zuhlsdorf. "Your lips and tongue crack. Your nose bleeds from the dryness of the mucous membranes. You are wracked with pain from the heaving and attempts to vomit."
"Withholding nutrition and hydration does not treat anything," observes Fr. Zuhlsdorf. As he noted, only in the extreme cases where food or hydration harms a patient is it morally acceptable to deny a patient such basic human care. Fr. Zuhlsdorf concludes: "Most PVS people retain reflexes. They digest food without problems and are otherwise healthy. Thus, withholding nutrition and hydration in these cases is murder, for it has no other intention than the death of the person. Being hungry and thirsty is not a disease or disorder that requires medical treatment. Hungry and thirsty people need food and water, and they have a basic human right to have it. Purposely keeping nutrition and hydration from a hungry and thirsty person until he dies is murder."
"Deeply embedded in our moral and medical traditions is the distinction. . .between allowing to die, on the one hand, and killing, on the other . . . It is never permitted, it is always prohibited, to take any action that is aimed at the death of ourselves or others . . . we must learn again the wisdom that teaches us always to care, never to kill." A Declaration on Euthanasia, issued by Thirteen Jewish and Christian Scholars.
Just a few thoughts on proper perspective.
Once again the grown-ups of the world are ruining things for kids. Way too many parents are becoming way too upset during the sports activities of their children. I recently witnessed an incident in a grade school gym here on the west side. It happened in Western Hills but as you will see, it could have happened anywhere.
In a basketball game between 4th grade boys, a near fight broke out in the stands. The lead had changed several times in the last two minutes of the game, each basket more exciting than the last. With only two seconds remaining, a boy launched a shot from twenty-five feet away. It's very difficult for a nine year old to throw a basketball that far, much less have it go into the goal. But fate was on his side and just before the final buzzer sounded, the ball fell through the net and gave his team an exciting victory. Everyone in the stands screamed at the same time; some in joy and some in despair. The hero was surrounded by his teammates and carried off the court in jubilation. The other team stood in disbelief and took a moment to leave the court, completely distraught. Trouble was about to start.
As the winning team made their way toward the stands, a woman from the losing team stopped the boy who had made the final basket and said, "Great shot, son." The boy said thanks and moved away but then his father stepped in. "Don't you talk to my boy!" he told the woman. "I just congratulated him, pal," she told the father. "I don't care," he said, "stay away from him." Then they started arguing back and forth, right in front of the children until the woman invited the man outside to settle things. Cooler heads prevailed and they were separated but I fear it made quite a negative impression on the 4th graders.
In northern Ohio, a high school official was assaulted by a parent after a game in February. As the ref was headed to the locker room, the parent deemed it necessary to express his opinion of the job the zebras had done during the contest. He was slinging obscenities at the official and chasing him toward the locker room. When they finally reached the door, the parent punched him in the rib cage knocking him off balance. Before the ref could recover, he was struck by another blow. Thankfully, an older by-stander used his cane to pull the attacker off and then the Sheriff arrived and cuffed the guy. A truly sad situation to say the least.
Later the same month, in Pittsburgh, a fifty-seven-year-old basketball official was treated for a concussion after he was attacked by a disgruntled fan. The official just had the attacker's wife removed from the gym for unsportsmanlike conduct. The husband came down onto the court, picked up the official, and threw him to the ground. Incredible!
In the latter two cases, the perpetrators were arrested and spent the evening in jail. But is this enough? What's wrong with a society that can allow this to even occur? I had to give out a technical foul to a coach in the first minute of an 8th grade game last month. With the score only 4 to 2, we couldn't have made too many mistakes yet! The coach was expressing his displeasure with the job I was doing and went so far as to invoke the Lord's name during his verbal assault.
I'm no prude, but I have very little patience for this type of language. Whether or not an official is getting all the calls right, no one has the right to question his intelligence or ancestry. What ever happened to cheering for good plays, no matter who made them? We all have a job at a ball game; players should play, coaches should positively instruct the kids, officials should call the game fairly, and parents should cheer for their children.
Players, coaches, and officials will make mistakes but parents should be flawless. Cheer for the children. Expect mistakes because they're part of life. You make them and so does everyone else. You don't have to like the mistake but overreacting isn't going to change it. And anyway, the last guy who was perfect got hung on a cross. Get a grip; chill out. As I told the captains at the City Championship Game last week, "Play hard but remember it's only a game." Just a few thoughts.
by Michael J. Halm
The 4,000-plus men attending the 2004 Answer the Call conference were greeted by patriotic sounds of the Hamilton County Sheriff Department bagpipers, a prayer and taps for "men and women who have given their lives for our country" by the ROTC, the pledge of allegiance (with "in God we trust") and "God Bless America." The call was, however, not just a call to join in the fight for freedom from terrorism, but freedom from sin, particularly sexual sin.
Jesse Romero, a former kickboxing champion and L.A. policeman, now a lay evangelist, pointed out that Satan kicks us men right between the legs. With pithy one-liners like "At the center of SIN is I," or "Make your home a no-sin zone," and references from Scripture, particularly the rise and fall and raising up again of King David, Romero taught how to fight for freedom.
"Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto," he says, emphasizing the need for other men. Just as David needed Nathan to be brought to repentance and find the awesome mercy of God, we need each other. Even Al Capone, so a Chicago priest told Romero, knew how important repentance was, giving victims he liked a chance to confess before he killed them. Those he did not like he gave a prostitute.
There is no excuse not to turn to God for forgiveness and sanctification, he concluded, not Abraham's old age, Timothy's youth, Jacob's lying, David's and Moses' murders, Job's poor health or poverty, the Samaritan woman's divorces, or even Lazarus' dying! We all have the chance to repent and be changed.
The Rev. Dr. Jerry Kirk, better known as Scott Hahn's father-in-law, spoke on his special call as chairman of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography. Rev. Kirk put much of the blame for the sexualization of our culture on MTV and the Internet. He quoted the statistics that one-fourth of our young people are sexually active, that four million per year are getting sexually-transmitted diseases, that one-third are pregnant before age 20. The key to changing those statistics, Kirk says, is showing them how they should treat others and expect to be treated – as the children of God that they are. They – and we – need to know that purity is always smart and impurity is always stupid. We need to show them that purity doesn't come because we try harder, but because we come to Christ. This is the Christ Who suffered infinitely greater because of our sins than the physical suffering portrayed in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.
Denis Beausejour, president of Answers for Life, continued the freedom fighter training. He shared about his own 10-year addiction to porn. It took an earthquake back when he was selling Tide and Crest to China before God got his attention. "God is going to change your life," he says, "Try to stay out of His way." He tried and God moved his wife to forgive him, because she had been forgiven. God strengthened their marriage which would be tried by her getting breast cancer. "Freedom is not free," Beausejour says, "but Jesus paid the price."
Fr. Mark Burger needed to spend over three months as a hermit before God showed him how shallow his spirituality was. We need, he says, to invite our secular activities into our prayer life, not prayer into our secular lives. He defined spirituality as learning to truly see and prayer as learning to truly hear. His deepening spirituality was confirmed by a dying man he anointed who told Fr. Burger that his mother was right when she promised, if he remained faithful, a good and holy priest would be there when he died. When we have a problem bigger than we can handle, he says, we need to remember God is bigger than any problem, and so far bigger than us.
Fr. Richard Neuhaus pointed out that the gift of the Holy Spirit we were given in Baptism must be given to others. He encouraged praying every morning that we will go to bed every night without having discouraged the Holy Spirit.
Archbishop Pilarczyk emphasized humility, the best weapon against pride, the root of every other sin. We must recognize that we are like everyone else, a sinner in need of repentance. Only then can we be truly free.
World Youth Day was celebrated in Rome and in dioceses throughout the world on Palm Sunday. In his message for the Day, dated February 22, the Pope said:
"This year 2004 is the final stage before the great event in Cologne, where the 20th World Youth Day will be celebrated in 2005. I therefore invite you to intensify your path of spiritual preparation by reflecting on the theme I have chosen for this 19th World Youth Day: 'We wish to see Jesus' (Jn 12:21).
"This is a request made to the Apostles one day by some 'Greeks.' They wanted to know who Jesus was. They had come not simply to see what kind of impression the man Jesus would make. Moved by great curiosity and a presentiment that they had found the answer to their deepest questions, they wanted to know Who He really was and whence He came.
"My dear young people, I want you too to imitate those 'Greeks' who spoke to Philip, moved by a desire to 'see Jesus.' May your search be motivated not simply by intellectual curiosity, though that too is something positive, but be stimulated above all by an inner urge to find the answer to the question about the meaning of your life. Like the rich young man in the Gospel, you too should go in search of Jesus to ask Him: 'What must I do to inherit eternal life?' (Mk 10:17). Mark the Evangelist states clearly that Jesus looked at him and loved him. You may remember another episode in which Jesus says to Nathaniel: 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,' drawing from the heart of that Israelite, in whom there was no guile (cf. Jn 1:47), a fine profession of faith: 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God!' (Jn 1:49). Those who approach Jesus with a heart free of prejudice can quite easily come to have faith because Jesus Himself has already seen them and loved them first. The most sublime aspect of human dignity is precisely man's vocation to communicate with God in a profound exchange of glances that is life transforming. In order to see Jesus, we first need to let Him look at us!
"The desire to see Jesus dwells deep in the heart of each man and each woman. My dear young people, allow Jesus to gaze into your eyes so that the desire to see the Light, and to experience the splendor of the Truth, may grow within you. Whether we are aware of it or not, God has created us because He loves us and so that we in turn may love Him. This is the reason for the unquenchable nostalgia for God that man preserves in his heart: 'Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide Your face from me' (Ps 27:8-9). That Face - we know - was revealed to us by God in Jesus Christ.
"Try by every means to make this encounter possible, and look towards Jesus Who is passionately seeking you. Seek Him with the eyes of the flesh through the events of life and in the faces of others; but seek Him too with the eyes of the soul through prayer and meditation on the Word of God, because 'The contemplation of Christ's face cannot fail to be inspired by all that we are told about Him in Sacred Scripture' (Novo millennio ineunte, 17).
"To see Jesus, to contemplate his Face, is an unquenchable desire, but it is a desire that man unfortunately may also deform. This is what happens with sin, because it is the very essence of sin to draw our eyes away from the Creator and to turn them towards what He has created.
"Those 'Greeks' in search of the truth would not have been able to approach Christ if their desire, animated by a free and voluntary act, had not been expressed through a clear decision: 'We wish to see Jesus.' To be truly free means having the strength to choose the One for Whom we were created and accepting His lordship over our lives. You perceive it in the depths of your heart: all that is good on earth, all professional success, even the human love that you dream of, can never fully satisfy your deepest and most intimate desires. Only an encounter with Jesus can give full meaning to your lives: 'for You made us for Yourself, and our heart finds no peace until it rests in You" (Saint Augustine, The Confessions, book 1, chapter 1). Do not let yourselves be distracted from this search. Persevere in it because it is your fulfillment and your joy that is at stake.
"Dear friends, if you learn to discover Jesus in the Eucharist, you will also know how to discover Him in your brothers and sisters, particularly in the very poor. The Eucharist received with love and adored with fervor becomes a school of freedom and charity in order to fulfill the commandment to love. Jesus speaks to us in the wonderful language of the gift of self and of love so great as to give our own life for it. Is that an easy thing? You know very well that it is not! It is not easy to forget our self, but if we do, it draws us away from possessive and narcissistic love and opens us up to the joy of a love that is self-giving. This Eucharistic school of freedom and charity teaches us to overcome superficial emotions in order to be rooted firmly in what is true and good; it frees us from self-attachment in order to open ourselves to others. It teaches us to make the transition from an affective love to an effective love. For love is not merely a feeling; it is an act of will that consists of preferring, in a constant manner, the good of others to the good of oneself: 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends' (Jn 15:13).
"It is with such inner freedom and such burning charity that Jesus teaches us to find Him in others, first of all in the disfigured face of the poor. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta loved to distribute her 'visiting card' on which were written the words: 'The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace.' This is the way to meet Christ. Go out to meet all of human suffering spurred on by your generosity and with the love that God instills in your hearts by means of the Holy Spirit: 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me' (Mt 25:40). The world is in urgent need of a great prophetic sign of fraternal charity! It is not enough to 'speak' of Jesus. We must also let Him be 'seen' somehow through the eloquent witness of our own life (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, 16).
"Do not forget to seek Christ and to recognize His presence in the Church, which is like the continuation of His saving action in time and space. It is in the Church and through her that Jesus continues to make Himself visible today and to allow humanity to come to Him. In your parishes, movements, and communities, be welcoming to one another in order to build communion among yourselves. This is the visible sign of the presence of Christ in the Church, in spite of being so often blurred by human sin.
"Do not be surprised, then, when you meet the Cross on your way. Did not Jesus say to His disciples that the grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die in order to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 12:23-26)? He was indicating in this way that His life given unto death would bear fruit. You know this: after the resurrection of Christ, death shall no longer have the last word. Love is stronger than death. If Jesus accepted death on the cross, thus making it the source of life and the sign of love, He did so not out of weakness, or because he wished to suffer. He did so to gain our salvation and to allow us henceforth to take part in His divine life.
"It is just this truth that I wished to bring to the minds of the young people of the world when I entrusted them with a large wooden Cross at the end of the Holy Year of the Redemption in 1984. Ever since then, it has travelled through different countries in preparation for your World Days. Hundreds of thousands of young people have prayed around this Cross. By laying at the feet of the Cross the burdens that had lain heavily upon them, they discovered that they were loved by God. Many of them also found the strength to change their lives.
"This year, on the 20th anniversary of that event, the Cross will be solemnly welcomed in Berlin. From there it will commence its pilgrimage throughout Germany, concluding in Cologne next year. Today I wish to repeat the words I said to you back then: 'My dear young people, . . . I entrust to you the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ's love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption.'
"Your contemporaries expect you to be witnesses of the One Whom you have met and Who gives you life. In your daily lives, be intrepid witnesses of a love that is stronger than death. It is up to you to accept this challenge! Put your talents and your youthful enthusiasm at the service of the proclamation of the Good News. Be the enthusiastic friends of Jesus who present the Lord to all those who wish to see Him, especially those who are farthest away from Him. Philip and Andrew brought those 'Greeks' to Jesus: God uses human friendship to lead hearts to the source of divine charity. Feel responsible for the evangelization of your friends and all your contemporaries.
"Throughout her life, the Blessed Virgin Mary steadfastly contemplated the face of Christ. May she keep you forever under the gaze of her Son (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 10) and sustain you as you prepare for World Youth Day in Cologne. I ask you to set out towards it from now with responsible and active enthusiasm. The Virgin of Nazareth, the compassionate and patient Mother, will mold within you a contemplative heart, and teach you to fix your gaze on Jesus so that, in this world that passes away, you shall be prophets of a world that does not die. . ."
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com