On the Road Again

SEPT. 22-28, 2005
On the Road Again
By Dan Buck/ SUN contributing writer
Diocesan youth visit many places on their journey to World Youth Day

While being blessed enough to have the opportunity to attend World Youth Day in Cologne, 14 pilgrims including myself from Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph’s Churches in Greene and Oxford had the chance to take a pre-extension trip throughout most of Europe with the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

The group of a little more than 100 young people visited places such as Fatima, Burgos, Loyola, Lourdes and Paris before capping off the trip with WYD in Cologne, Germany. This was a lot of kilometers (or miles if you will) to cover in only 16 days. Then again we were not on a vacation, rather a pilgrimage. I am very thankful for having the opportunity to visit the many places where Our Lady appeared; where beautiful cathedrals were built, and where Christianity played an important role in the formation of Europe.

Everywhere I went, I was humbled by the faith which the pilgrims had. They came from all over the world to these places for the opportunity to pray to Our Lady of Fatima for a special intention by walking 400 meters on their knees, to wash in the waters of Lourdes to be cured of a life threatening or crippling ailment, and to get a glimpse of, listen to, and receive an Apostolic Blessing from the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI. I was blessed to do all three.

But with this great blessing comes a great responsibility. In the words our Holy Father gave to the young people, “You are to bring the light of Christ back to your homes and into your daily lives.”

This light is to shine in all corners of the globe; this task, seemingly daunting, is achieved through the action of loving one another. This love is found in coming to know Jesus Christ; we come to love Him by falling on our knees and adoring Him in His Eucharistic presence and meditating on the love He has for us — adoration.

We begin to find how much He loves us and how He wants to be an intricate part of our lives. We welcome and receive Him: His body, blood, soul, and divinity — the Mass.

Being invited to such an awesome gift, we must realize how unworthy we are of such a great gift. But we are still called to this supper; we must be absolved of any blemish that separates us from our Lord and our love — confession.

This yearning to grow closer to Christ in holiness will pour out onto others, not only in our words but most of all in our actions. Those who surround us will see that freedom is found in loving Jesus Christ. They will desire the very love which we have in our hearts, and it is offered to them just as unconditionally. It was given to us without cost and so we are to give just as unreservedly. We as Catholics and Christians are called to live in this way; now we are to follow the greatest commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” But this task needs to be nurtured through receiving the strength and the graces and taking full advantage of what has been given to us: adoration, the Mass, and confession.

This was the message that Our Holy Father gave to the young people of the world. He continues what John Paul II began, inviting all of us to live in His love and not to be afraid. We truly are blessed to have Benedict XVI as our Holy Father and the young people will follow Him just as they did with JP II. Viva la Papa!

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