Benedict XVI spoke the latter of these words at the culmination of the nocturnal vigil in Marienfeld, before an altar beneath a starry sky. And then, all of a sudden, he added: “Dear friends, this is not a distant story that took place long ago. It is with us now. Here in the sacred Host he is present before us and in our midst. [...] He is present now as he was then in Bethlehem. He invites us to that inner pilgrimage which is called adoration.” Silence. The pope blessed the crowd with the host and quickly withdrew into the shadows, without passing through the crowd. He would return the next morning for the Mass, to repeat that it is only through God and the Eucharist that true revolution comes to the world. And he would give two pieces of advice to the young people: that they attend Sunday Mass and study the catechism.
The television news coverage missed the most characteristic features of the meeting. The three mornings of catechesis in 270 groups, in churches and stadiums in Cologne and the surrounding area, preached by the cardinals and bishops spurred on by the new pope. The ceaseless pilgrimage toward the cathedral, to the relics of the Magi. The many celebrations of the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening. The myriads of sacramental confessions in all languages. The prayer in the churches, day and night: like at Saint Agnes Church in Cologne, under the direction of the ecumenical community of Taizé, the forerunner of these international meetings of faith for young people. The blossoming of love among young men and women, but also of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. And to the standard agenda of the World Youth Days, Benedict XVI added a meeting with seminarians, the priests of tomorrow’s Church.
A rather lovely summation. The piece concludes with thoughts on the supposed, hoped-for, rumored meeting with the Orthodox on 11/30 in Instanbul….