When gale force winds and torrential rains drenched the 1.5 million young people attending an evening vigil at World Youth Day in Spain, the media played it up with headlines like “Mother Natures Takes on Holy Father.” Pope Benedict’s take was quite different, and indicative of why he is so popular with young people.
A) When the event schedule was upset by the sudden storm, the Pope determined to keep things on time by cutting the length of his own speech. When was the last time you saw American leaders, left, right or center yield the microphone and give up their time to keep an event on schedule? In a busy world where young people, even at the youngest levels, are scheduled and rescheduled, this was quite an example of simplicity and detachment. Things haven’t worked out as planned? Let it go with a smile and move on. There will be other opportunities.
B) Benedict XVI is very much into relationship as a key to understanding spiritual matters (think Trinity). He said to the young people that together they had learned that what they were setting out to do would not be easy, but they had also learned that together they could get through it. It was real life and connection. After all people remember adventures where everything seems to go wrong with much greater force.
Other phrases of encouragement that struck home:
- Be signs of consolation and love.
- Redeem freedom.
- Live a life of constant study.
- Run towards the goal.
Other items of interest:
- The ever present push for confession, social reconciliation and care for the sick and poor.
- The 30 tents set up for Eucharistic adoration.
- The Spanish Baroque Way of the Cross with its life sized statues.
While the event was for the young, the message is surely for all those who are young at heart. Especially if they don’t mind getting a little rain in their face.