On Palm Sunday, Pope Benedict handed over the World Youth Day Cross to a delegation of young people so that it could begin its pilgrim journey towards WYD2008 in Sydney, Australia. In his homily, the Holy Father explained the significance of this gesture which launched the period of preparation for the next World Youth Day; he said:
Palm Sunday tells us that the great “Yes” is precisely the Cross, that the Cross itself is the true tree of life. We do not find life by possessing it, but by giving it. Love is a gift of oneself, and for this reason it is the way of true life symbolized by the Cross. Today, the Cross that was recently the focus of the World Youth Day in Cologne is being consigned to a special delegation so that it may begin the journey to Sydney, where in 2008 the youth of the world are planning to meet again around Christ to build with him the Kingdom of peace. From Cologne to Sydney – a journey across continents and cultures, a journey through a world torn and tormented by violence! Symbolically, it is like the journey the prophet pointed out from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. It is the journey of the One who, in the sign of the Cross, gives us peace and makes us become messengers of reconciliation and of his peace. I thank the young people who will now carry this Cross, in which we can as it were touch the mystery of Jesus on the highways of the world. Let us pray that at the same time, it will touch us and open our hearts, so that by following his Cross we will become messengers of his love and his peace.
Travelling with the Cross will be a copy of the Icon “Salus Populi Romani”, which is especially dear to the hearts of Passionists as the image of Mary (in Santa Maria Maggiore) before which Saint Paul of the Cross, at the beginning of his religious life, took a special vow to promote the Memory of the Passion of Jesus and to gather companions who would do the same. Both the Icon and the World Youth Day Cross were welcomed by our community here in Glasgow in the lead up to the World Youth Day in Cologne last year.
The Superior General of the Passionists, Father Ottaviano D’Egidio has sent a letter to all our communities, inviting young people who share in our spirituality, life and mission to celebrate World Youth Day with him and the other Passionists who will be in Sydney in two years time:
Those young people who are associated with us Passionists in the our parishes, Shrines, Retreat Houses, youth groups and monasteries are invited to participate in special events that are part of a program that is focused on the Passionist Charism. The program will be multi-lingual and will be guided by Passionists throughout the world. It is also hoped that some Sisters and the laity of the Passionist Family that are associated with us will also become involved. This proposal has the support of the General Council and the Asian-Pacific
Passionist Conference (PASPAC). This is a wonderful event and I invite all of you to seriously consider it.
(The full text of the letter can be found here.)
The Passionists in Australia have devoted a section of their province website to the Passio World Youth Day Pilgrimage 2008. They are inviting suggestions from young people associated with our parishes, retreat houses, prayer groups… around the world. Any thoughts?