Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pope Not Looking Just to Party With Youth

Promotes Deeper Celebration of Meeting Christ
By María de la Torre

ROME, MARCH 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- As young people worldwide prepare for the upcoming diocesan and international World Youth Days, Benedict XVI is sending out the message that he's looking for more than just a party.Monsignor Mauro Parmeggiani, Rome’s diocesan director for youth ministry, explained to ZENIT that the Pope wants to transform the traditional meeting with the youth, “which was a sort of party, into a real celebration, not only an external celebration."The monsignor said the reason to celebrate at a youth day is in reality "an interior one, that of the meeting of man with God, with God’s mercy in his heart; from there Christian joy is born.”

In this context the Holy Father is hosting on Thursday a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica in preparation for Palm Sunday, which is the day the dioceses of the world celebrate World Youth Day. More than 20,000 young people have signed up for the event, which is also a lead-up to the international World Youth Day, to be held July 15-20 in Sydney, Australia.With this liturgy, Monsignor Parmeggiani explained, the Pope has one objective: “To meet God who loves. The more the sense of God grows, the more the sense of my smallness before God grows, of my impotence before God, of my sin. From this the plea arises: ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, have mercy on me because I am a sinner.’”The priest who works with Roman youth said young people’s attitudes toward confession, “despite what one might think, is positive.”

Facing sin in Confession, he clarified, “is a sacrament where you are confronted with the truth about yourself and your sins, your human misery, with God’s mercy. It is the sacrament that best responds to the need of man today, who has need of mercy, love and to place themselves face to face with God’s justice.”

“We must face life’s many aspects, and life after death,” said the prelate. “It is no wonder that the Pope in ‘Spe Salvi’ speaks of the last things -- death, judgment, heaven and hell -- as something to rediscover.”The difficulty people have, both young and old, with going to confession, according to Monsignor Parmeggiani, “stems from the loss of the sense of sin, the loss of the sense of God.”

And the problem people have with confessing to a priest, he said, is a false one: “In a world where we are all ready to tell everything about ourselves anywhere -- on the radio, on the Internet, in blogs, forums, in text messages -- with all of these ways of communicating, where people communicate very intimate and personal things, I believe we shouldn’t be ashamed to open our hearts to God’s minister, who in that moment represents Christ, Christ who listens to me, Christ who encourages me, Christ who tells me, ‘Rise and walk.’”

The monsignor said another difficulty stems from the lack of firmness in one’s resolutions, which can lead on to say, “It's useless for me to go back to confession.”

“No one is perfectly coherent," he said. "We must continue to have faith, to let ourselves be guided by Christ, and not give up because we make one mistake."We must not give up and think that we cannot be free from this error.”

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